Every organization has lots of process problems. My rule of thumb is that most any CMMI Level 2 or 3 organization can eliminate 20% of their activities without changing the quality of their output. This is the case because organizations, typically, continue to do things that were important in the past but are not currently important – or they continue to employ several people to do a task or tasks that can currently be accomplished by fewer people. Simply stated, most organizations can achieve significant process gains without resorting to reengineering their more difficult, complex or dynamic processes.
In the past, we typically advised organizations to focus on what they could easily solve and to defer working on the more problematic, complex problems. But, in the past few years three things have changed.
First, leading organizations have cleaned up lots of the more easily solved processes and are ready to tackle more difficult challenges.
Second, various technologies, principally the Internet and email, have made dynamic processes more prevalent.
Third, outsourcing and the emphasis on customer service have made it more important than ever to empower individual employees who interact with customers to make decisions. That, in turn, requires that we define the jobs of employees who perform complex, dynamic and often knowledge intensive activities.
All of these considerations have led to a new emphasis on complex, dynamic processes – processes that are increasingly termed Case Management Processes. I would be quick to emphasize that, for most companies, these do not present easy opportunities for major process improvement – they are harder to analyze, harder to redesign, and riskier to try to improve. If, however, your organization has already solved its easier problems, or if some specific problem is causing significant problems, then you may want to consider this emerging area of process redesign.
Complex, dynamic problems take many forms. Sometimes they are complex simply because they require that performers make decisions that require lots of knowledge and experience. You can’t ask employees with a high school education to perform tasks that require advanced degrees in engineering. You can’t ask new employees to deal with problems that are only fully understood by employees who have 10 or 15 years of experience. Sometimes, problems are complex because they require many different people to collaborate to find the correct solution. For example, many complex problems require the consensus of a committee of specialists, in multiple locations around the world. This frequently requires lengthy real-time face-to face or on-line discussion of issues relating to information that is changing daily.
BPTrends has published a number of Articles and Columns on case management and the problems of dealing with complex and dynamic processes. (mais…)