Back in My Day and BPM

telephoneOk, I admit it I am getting older. During a dinner conversation with our three boys earlier this week, we had a discussion about technology and technological trends. The proof I am getting older – I started a sentence with “back in my day”.  This was something I never thought I would say, but now I have, I hope to at least minimize my use of that phrase.

For background, my two older boys are both heavily involved in technology, while the youngest is still in high school, but leaning towards a career in the medical field. As for me, I found defining and managing business processes to be a main factor in business success, after work experience in both IT and business.

The story goes we were talking about the process of making a phone call, a simple process by today’s standard with all of the smart phones and wireless technology.  I related to my boys that when I was growing up, “back in my day”, we could actually dial the operator in the small western Nebraska town my grandparents lived in and ask the operator, after we identified ourselves, where is my grandma at?  The operator would reply, she is at home, at work, or at a restaurant, etc. and connect me to my grandma. I thought this was a great way to communicate and really could never figure out how the operator new where my grandma was, nor did I really wanted to know.

In today’s technological world, I don’t believe there are hardly any telephone operators left nor telephones with chords, (yes a physical cord that was tethered to the phone).  Now we simply pick up phones, select the number (verbally or digitally) and we are connected with the person we want to speak to, regardless of where we are located.

So how does this tie to BPM? Businesses need to adapt new technology in a smart and effective manner in order to survive and grow. So how do businesses adapt new technology? They can purchase it, implement it and then “let the dust settle” and figure out the various adjustments to their processes to make it work with the new technology. This is a costly and time consuming method, where productivity is significantly impacted for months or even years.

Or they could innovate. By innovate I mean they could understand  their current processes by initially creating a process architecture to understand the high-level processes and then model to the level of detail where the current activities, information, roles and supporting systems create a baseline for innovation analysis. Then innovate by looking at the current state processes through two different lenses, criticality and opportunity.

Critical innovation studies your current processes and first asks the questions, does this process add customer and organizational value and do we really need to do this?  If the answer is yes to any of these questions, then critically look at the process to eliminate redundant activities, eliminate non-value added information, eliminate or consolidate process roles and systems, otherwise remove the activities. Leverage six sigma or lean techniques where possible.

Opportunity innovation studies your current processes from the perspective of “what-if”. By analyzing the current state models from the perspective of what if, you have the focal point to ask, what if we did things radically different, what if we employed this new technology, what if we reorganized our business, what if…..

The current state model provides a focal point for both critical innovation and opportunity innovation. It provides the baseline to begin to determine how and what technologies should and can be leveraged and what would be the process impacts, in a cost effective manner.

The choice is simple, innovate through a planned methodological approach or suffocate. After all, could a business successfully operate today if they were still operating as they were “back in my day”?

Please let me know what you think?


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By Kevin Feldhus @ Perficient Inc. | June 4, 2012

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