Thursday, December 10, 2009

It’s About Process (or Ability to be Responsive) – Part I

After several years (if not decades, even) of painstakingly corralling and setting up all their custom data, objects, tables and whatnot, and making sure that these static and/or dynamic transactional data are secure, many enterprise applications users have realized that the time is long overdue for them to start looking at ways to make their applications more process-savvy.

Companies are increasingly trying to adopt and implement standardized (and yet flexible and easily modifiable) business processes to help their operations run more consistently and smoothly. For example, the chief executive officer (CEO) might decide that as of, say, next month “All customer service cases must be resolved within 24 to 48 hours,” or, “We are going to institute a new sales process for all deals worth over US$100,000.”

However, these business processes often get communicated to employees in an ad hoc and unregulated manner. A process document with instructions may exist on a network file share, but people have not the foggiest idea that it’s there. And some employees might rely on word-of-mouth information from co-workers (so called “tribal knowledge”) to learn the processes for their jobs.

Consequently, standardizing and instituting new business processes can prove challenging for most companies, particularly larger organizations.

Indeed, until recently most enterprise applications have hardly been anything more than glorified databases — they could hold all of the information users may need and allow users to search for records based on various criteria, but they could not really help users to perform the functions of their daily jobs more effectively.

There’s still often no native automation and agility within the system that lets, e.g., a recruiter instantly know when the status of a candidate has changed or when a new position requisition has been entered into the system.

Indeed, when any changes are made somewhere in the organization, users have to remember to notify one another of the change or else rely on others finding the updates on their own. Neither solution is practical in the long term and invites the possibility that the software solution or best practice will not be adopted consistently by all employees at the company.

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