I woke up this morning and in an unusual move I checked Twitter for what the latest stories were. With some buzz generated around the #gartnerbpm conference in Australia I decided to read a couple of blogs and choked on my raspberry tea. I haven’t done some dragon slaying and Gartner baiting for some time but felt compelled to by Jim Sinur’s latest blog entry.
Jim skirts around what Gartner has termed “Automated Business Process Discovery” (which is just Process Mining to the rest of us) but what really got my goat was the latest ‘current thinking’ in what Jim calls “Resource Intelligence”…
There is an interesting subset called resource intelligence that is the intersection of workforce optimization, which is holistic in nature, and the behavior of resources in the context of a process… why not look at each resource, in detail, to find idle time and productive time and manage them to a higher level of productivity before hiring more.
Seriously ? UK Banks were doing this over 12 years ago and look where that got them. Is this really the kind of current thinking we should be promoting as an industry at large where all we are doing is mining for the same information we did manually a decade ago ? This isn’t intelligence, it’s common sense. We should be looking outside of the current state thinking about number of instances etc when examining resources and look at how those instances are really occurring and where the actual expertise lie. Resource utilisation is not an effective method of measuring best practice anymore. Not today.
There’s also the thinking that sharing best practice can take it up a notch. While this can be true of organisations that want to flounder in an aggressive economy using old methods I read an interesting blog that suggests some methods of best practice actually destroy value.
The work with defining and implementing new processes is often left to a small group of experts. This approach seems obvious to many companies, since they want to implement best practice processes. The problem is that most of the good thinking stays with the expert, in the instruction documents, tools or systems. The best practice thinking does not reach employees and it does not impact the organization’s real behavior.
Basically, it’s corporate inbreeding.
The identification of best practice is based on using so-called Subject Matter Experts who follow to the letter what they’ve been told. This to another one of Jim’s posts about ‘Dark Processes’ (A dark process is an unoffical process used to deliver results and not visible to management.) but Jim is scared of them. Instead of reducing these processes we should expose and understand why they exist in the first place. If they exist it’s because so called ‘best practice’ is anything but and removing them erodes business success. Perhaps Dark Processes are the next best practice we can find, and rebels are responsible for their existence.
While ABPD or Process Mining may speed up how to measure work and activities from the days when I used to do it, it’s hardly pushed the boundaries for forward thinking beyond 1995. Activity logs and resource utilisation does not take into effect how human behaviour can shape work. It’s funny but Jim mentions the behavior of resources in the context of a process but completely ignores it in favour of automation for the rest of the article.
Jim ends his blog by saying “when I talk to clients, they tell me that they had no idea that they could save this much in the context of processes and systems.” and that scares the crap out of me.