Rethinking Business Processes

Process Mapping is generally seen as a laborious exercise in workflow mapping that is supposed to add value by helping improve business processes. Once the As-Is model has been mapped with sufficient and just enough detail, the analysts are supposed to find ‘obvious’ areas for improvement and can then triumphantly arrive at an obviously improved To-Be process model.

This approach may be adequate for incremental workflow improvement but does not address good design for a business process.

The reason a process exists is because it adds value to the customer. Otherwise the process shouldn’t exist. This is the golden rule for good Business Process Design.

James Martin and Michael Porter have been expounding on the central principle of value creation for the past few years with the Value Steam approaches.  Recently Ralph Whittle reviewed the background and presented Enterprise Business Architecture as the overarching concept to capture the value-driven approach.

Given that (value-driven) process design is the core of any successful organization, I am a little concerned to find Graham Hill bidding good-bye to Process Thinking and welcoming Design Thinking as a replacement.

It may be that his use of the word ‘design’ in this fashion is too generic. A good DESIGN will bring user-centric interface design, user-friendly information architecture and customer-value-driven business processes together into a rewarding experience for the customer – and a profitable transaction for the business. Process thinking (from a customer’s  viewpoint) is key.

Incremental workflow improvements in the guise of process management are ineffective unless they rest on solid business processes built after asking, “Does this add value to the customer?”