Virtual Job Bags in BPM Workflows

Job bag - BPM LeaderFill in the form, push the button and start the job…  

Human nature resists change.  Change bothers a lot of people, and they hold on to old ways of doing things.  Some of the largest global brands still go to market using physical job bag workflows with job racks, sticky notes and production boards. This method of workflow management is especially prevalent in marketing and advertising.  Advertising departments have been routing job bags for a long time. It stands to reason that the routing of a virtual job bag over a giant envelope would help reduce cycle time, and cost.   So why do so many departments still manage their marketing communication workflows by moving a physical job bag around ? Obviously there is a valid reason for managing physical merchandise and product samples, and those elements need to be tracked.  But time to market is very important, and it makes sense that a virtual job bag is a more inclusive vehicle for managing production, especially as it becomes more distributed.

When a project and its related jobs is initiated, the first task of the production coordinator is to prepare the job bags and write the job tickets.  This is the point in the process where so many departments turn to Excel spreadsheets and NCR paper forms to manage the jobs associated with a project.  I am always amazed by the disconnect that occurs at this critical point in the process.  As a BPM practitioner, this is the focal point for managing the change and capturing the grass roots sponsorship for implementing a BPM enabled process.  This is the make or break point in the workflow, and it is where the most attention to the user experience needs to be.  Production coordinators possess extensive local knowledge that determines the way jobs are setup and managed.  The method for applying that knowledge has to be intuitive and efficient.  The best way to engage people is to listen to them.  Provide tools that allow them to create and implement their own workflows. Make the process easy to understand and sophisticated enough to support local knowledge. The challenge for BPM programmers is at the start job task.  It is where data streams converge and resistance to change is the greatest.  Every process is different, and so no single UI is appropriate.  Ultimately, the best solution is one that the user creates and modifies as needed.

How many have attempted to implement BPM and found that the user experience at the start job task has been the biggest obstacle?  What’s the best way to manage the change from a job bag /case file to a digital one?

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By Murray Oles @ Chalex | March 1, 2012

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