Loosely managed expert processes

“Business process management” is a mature subject – and I’ve been reading perhaps the best book on it, “Business Process Management” by John Jeston and Johan Nelis,

A few observations –

BPM has been continually evolving over decades, since the 1900s or earlier.

One underlying philosophy does seem to be to take expert decison making out of the equation – although perhaps the practioners would deny it. The case studies presented are often of scenarios where nearly all decision making could be automated – such as a bank, managing supply chains in logistics, and developing retail products.

The software developed for ‘business process management’ seems to lean even more to automatable scenarios – in one interview I did a company said they had done BPM implementations for ‘new employee onboarding’ and ‘managing billing processes’.

Processes are important – very few organisations can manage without processes. Even highly creative industries, such as advertising agencies, use processes – (although there processes might not be anywhere near complex enough that they need to be written down, or encased in BPM software).

But I would like to explore the idea that maybe we could take a different approach to BPM which is slightly looser – so expert work is not tied down into transaction or workflow style software packages.

That point sounds complex – but to make it worthwhile understand, consider what advantages there could be if our organisations could do better work with experts in processes.

Most world problems could be solved – climate, terrorism, refugees, health management, developing country electricity and water supplies.

Organisations could be much better managed – including making sure they don’t go bust, can pay their employees steadily, and don’t cause accidents.

This approach could work in any organisation which would like to improve its performance.

Companies would compete on how well they can put processes and expert work together. This sounds like an interesting world.

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