A Brave New Frontier – Process from the Perspective of the Human Experience

BPM should always seek to eliminate waste by paring processes down to just those activities that create value or meet a requirement of doing business. I am comfortable in stating that for all human-centric business processes improvement activities should eliminate things. Specifically: non-value added things.

We can measure the current state of a process, and we can analyze improvements in respect to these measures. Specific characteristics of business processes give us the baseline metrics behind the current state of a process. That basic set of metrics applies to all business processes that involve people doing work.

While there are many different metrics we can use I am actually referring to qualitative measures (something I will be discussing more on this blog). While quantitative metrics exist (and are the predominate metrics used by process practitioners) qualitative metrics are the most effective tool for measuring work and the elimination of waste.
From these metrics, real improvement becomes the difference (change) between the current and future process states. To consistently accomplish real process improvement requires that we measure the state of a process before improving it AND assess improvement benefits against these same metrics within the improvement activity itself. However, the current state (as is) measurement of qualitative metrics is completely different than its quantitative counterpart. The only thing they really have in common is the concept of BEFORE and AFTER.

In my work and research I have consistently observed that there are least two fundamentally different, yet individually important, perspectives on process. The quantitative perspective, which is used by methods such as Six Sigma, DFSS (Design for Six Sigma), TQM, Lean, etc. and by execution system design activities is the perspective that is commonly in use. The qualitative perspective is not. It is missing in most process practices.

From my experience I find that to really take advantage of the opportunity BPM has to offer we must use both. They address issues that exist with all business processes (at least human-centric processes, which I would argue is the definition of process versus a service). They say it takes two to tango. In my experience, it takes both of these perspectives to consistently and reliably take advantage of what process management really has to offer us.

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