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Partners, Process Management, Workshops and Events

Max Pucher’s Keynote at ISIS Papyrus Open House 2019

2019-09-26 09.07.26It’s always a pleasure to attend the ISIS Papyrus Open House and thanks, once again, to Antony Haslett and his colleagues for their hospitality.

Max Pucher (CTO) gave the keynote presentation “The push and shove of digital”. His main theme was that the “push” comes from the progress in technology and the “shove” comes from changes in the business environment.

Digital transformation seems to be the latest buzzword and, despite, Max’s explicit criticism of BPM (Business Process Management) he said he still gets invited to speak at BPM conferences.

He described what he sees as some of the problems with the current approach to digital transformation:

  • Companies feel compelled to operate with as few people as possible, for example exporting jobs to Asia, due to increasing regulation. Our job is not to automate but to augment and give people more capability.
  • IT is a 2-edged sword: There is no way to cut costs and improve service. Today, it is virtually impossible to get to speak with someone at an airline or mobile phone company and too many businesses send out impersonal emails with “Do not reply”
  • IT can be used for cutting edge or cutting jobs
  • Digital transformation intends to be all-encompassing… for all services and all jobs. People who experience only a digital interaction with a business have no loyalty at all.
  • The majority of IT projects no longer target a future architecture but address current short-term problems (band-aid solutions). 90% of IT projects fail vs. initial intent due to lack of executive focus, cost reduction, outsourcing, lack of IT skills, continuous rapid change.

To succeed with any digital transformation, we need…
Ontology – Definitions, terminology
Rules – Not process maps
Goal orientation – What we want to achieve

2019-09-26 15.07.43Max built on these points in a second presentation about Adaptive Case Management. The Papyrus Converse tool is at the heart of enabling this approach. Adaptive processes are goal-oriented and rules-driven. Knowledge work can be added “on the fly”. This is in total contrast to the inflexible, prescriptive processes that are often captured as process maps. Many “knowledge processes” need case (project) management and not process management. This sort of approach is highly relevant when processes contain many exceptions or choices are made (legitimately) by a knowledge worker. Much of my process improvement work in the criminal justice sector, charities and local authorities involves these types of process.

I was particularly interested in the iPad tool Papyrus has developed to help document processes. The software captures:

  • Steps – the actions that have to be taken; but makes no attempt to place them in any sequence
  • Rules – these should be action rules, to progress the process, rather than “stopping rules” (rules should be in plain English sentences: e.g. “To do this, you must do that”). Rules should be precise in order to avoid and eliminate ambiguity.
  • Roles – definition of who does what

This approach to process definition made me wonder if it’s necessary to use a process mapping tool at all. In fact, it occurred to me that using something like Trello could be a very quick way to capture all the information max said was necessary. It’s likely to be much quicker to list the steps rather than worrying about putting them in the right sequence, connected with flow lines. The detailed work, of course, is in defining the rules that are necessary and sufficient for the process to work (and to be automated).

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