Saturday, March 05, 2005

SOA Human Aspects

In the service-based business, coordination between organization units is service-based. Performance evaluation of individuals and organization units depends on contribution to value, where value is only meaningful in service terms. Therefore organization and people management must be oriented towards service integrity and value.

People and teams work more effectively and with greater job satisfaction if they have a sense of the meaning and integrity of their work.

In the traditional organization, meaning and integrity derived from a traditional conception of the complete business process. For example, in car manufacturing, the original idea was that people built cars. Today, only a few specialist firms (such as Morgan) build cars in this way. Most cars are designed from frameworks and assembled from components, involving complex supply chains – not just at the construction level but also at the design level.

As a result, a traditional factory worker may find it difficult to make any mental connection with the whole process. Even the designer may be assigned a narrow design task, where most of the potential for innovation or creativity appears constrained by the need to work within an existing (and often extremely complicated) framework. This causes alienation, and results in lack of initiative and empowerment, and this in turn typically has a negative impact on productivity and quality.

Various ways have been used to reintroduce meaning and integrity into factory work. Perhaps the best-known is Volvo’s teamworking approach. Teamworking is also a standard feature of software engineering practice.

Part of the organizational challenge of the service-oriented organization is that it deconstructs and fragments traditional structures and processes. The business unit may not be responsible for the whole business process; the software team may not be responsible for the whole application. If alternative forms of meaning and integrity are not provided to the workforce, this will lead to alienation, and inability to contribute to quality and process improvement. It is only from the service or service framework that this meaning and integrity can be derived.

From Towards the Service-Oriented Organization, CBDI Journal January 2004.

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