Sometimes I just like to rely on an existing metaphor
The last time I wrote about shared folders and what to do about it. This time I wanted to write about another important part of my job. To find a little inspiration for this blog post, I checked out a couple of websites with the most important english proverbs. Last time I used the well known “a tidy house, a tidy mind” to close my post. This time I needed something new. Something that fit to the blog post that was already forming in my mind. None of the proverbs helped me to find a great title for this post. And none of them had anything to do with IT. Sometimes I just like to rely on an existing metaphor, proverb or just a picture from the real world, to explain things. I do this to make things clearer and to tell a story next to my message.
Using pictures is often a great way to promote an idea in a presentation
When it comes to converting an analog paper driven process into a digital workflow, this exact way of thinking is often causing issues. Using pictures for example, is often a great way to promote an idea in a presentation. It can get you the attention of the audience and can lighten up even the most boring lectures.
When it comes to business processes and workflows, relying on paper driven ones can often limit the possibilities of electronic workflows and it can cause them to be unnecessarily complex.
A paper driven business process is limited in a couple of ways.
First of all, it is limited by the paper or file itself. It usually can only be proceeded one place at a time only by the employees that are at the same place as the paper is.
It is hard to follow and control. It is limited by time. If more than one dependency is involved, it is even limited by third party services like mail. There are way more limits to a paper driven process, which i will not tell you here in detail. (Feel free to add some at the comments section)
There are a lot of benefits
A digital workflow, created with a BPM tool, can be free of most of those limits (and might have some new ones).
Multiple approvers or reviewers are easy peasy possible, defined rights and workflow routes are also possible just like that. There are a lot of benefits. It is not uncommon to speed up a business process from weeks or months to just days or even hours.And still there is room for improvement. Digital workflows are already heavily used everywhere you look at todays offices. And yet, most of them are still based and closely bound to their paper driven counterpart. And therefore they have some of the same limits and disadvantages.
You won’t need all the details.
Just like some music, that is converted from analog to digital using AD-Converters you can take a look at a process. You can convert every tiny piece of sound into bits and bytes. You’ll get gigantic files and probably an amazing sound. Unfortunately only three records will fit on your portable music player (sometimes it is kinda hard to not use registered trademarks). You can use some compression software, that will erase all the parts that the human ear can’t hear. You also probably won’t need all the details because the cheap headphones that came with your mobile won’t make you hear any difference.
They should’nt just be a blueprint.
In this case we used modern technology to turn something already existing into something more useful for the most of us. Today we can carry all our music in our pocket. And quickly download new songs if we want to. We can do the same with our business processes. And there i found my metaphor for the day!
When transferring processes from paper driven to digital we shouldn’t simple convert them, but also try to compress them. They shouldn’t just be a blueprint.
This is what i call a win-win situation.
We probably won’t need all the exceptions we had before. We can give some users special rights to make these exceptions possible, without having to code theme into a routing matrix.
At some points maybe we can even automate steps while others might be better off when they are user controlled.
The effort of rethinking a paper driven process into a new digital one is often way smaller that to somehow implement every special characteristic of a workflow. In the end you might end up with a faster, easier workflow with less implementation time and less maintenance of the BPM Tool. This is what i call a win-win situation.
Rethink your processes
To be precise, this always depends on the process or workflow itself. Maybe even a paper driven workflow might be the best opportunity for now. Rethinking that unoptimizable process may not lead to a digital workflow or any changes at all, but to the knowledge what features we might need in the future to be able to convert that process to our benefit. What i really wanna say here is: Rethink your processes and workflows when you transform them from the analog to the digital world. Its the best time to do it.
Now that i have written this post, a few of the proverbs seem to make at least a little sense now. I don’t wanna keep them from you, so here they are:
The top 5 proverbs that somehow relate to this blog post (#4 gave me goosebumps)*
#1 If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.
#2 A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
#3 Two wrongs don’t make a right.
#4 A picture is worth a thousand words.
#5 You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.
*Those proverbs were seen on the following website.
This blogpost was created with some inspiration from it.