- analysed and designed by process experts on behalf of process owners,
- implemented by process engineers using sophisticated BPM tools and workflow engines
- performed by armies of obedient employees or compliant customers
- monitored and calibrated by statisticians using sophisticated analytical tools
In this lifecycle, we can achieve process agility and innovation through rapid redesign and recalibration. If the design and control phases can be make more efficient and effective (for example by being supported by tools), then the set-up costs are reduced, and this improves the economics of scope as well as the economics of scale.
At the other extreme, there may be some processes in an enterprise that are completely adhoc, with no repeatable structure. For example, a decision to merge with a competitor may involve a number of highly complex steps (investigation, evaluation, due diligence and so on) but without any systematic process structure.
Is there something in between these two extremes? Well there certainly should be. In my previous post on Activity-Based Computing, I mentioned four important examples.
- Sales. The sales team produces a detailed proposal in response to a complex request from a customer or prospect.
- Customer Complaints. Each complaint follows a different path, which depends on the nature and content of the complaint.
- Problem solving.
- Medical intervention.
Who is doing the process management? All the participants in the process are participating in the management of the process, and should have access to all the management tools (not just BPM but also BAM and Business Intelligence). Then the job of the process architect is not to lay down the process but to create a collaborative process space in which everyone can be productive and appropriately innovative, with the right balance of variation and standardization, freedom and control.
So the big question for the process architect is not optimizing one process, or even optimizing lots of different processes, but managing the process continuum. In this way, the process architect becomes the enterprise architect.
Update: see Semi-structured processes 2