Beyond Structured Workflow

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When enterprises start the “processification” of their value chains, they often focus on areas where the flow of the value chain is well-defined and structured – and sometimes even specified by regulators to some extent (e.g. Basel II/III, Solvency II). Describing these structured value chains with process models (e.g. in BPMN) allows to ensure execution according to these models by involving all organizations, individuals and systems at the time and under the conditions they need to be involved.

However, the majority of workflows on business cases in an Enterprise are not or not fully structured:

Deviations to the structured, predefined flows need to occur if required steps to handle a business case

  • are not covered by the structured flow,
  • something has been done the wrong way (e.g. a document which had been received has been misinterpreted),
  • something needs to be done in addition to the work that has already been initiated (e.g. during account opening the customer decides that she needs a credit card as well)
  • initiated work is redundant and needs to be joined with existing work or
  • work which has been started independently (e.g. two documents had been sent by the customer on the same insurance claim) should be grouped under “one umbrella”.

To support the scenarios above, we will be introducing spawn, switch, join and group capabilities in the next release of Stardust.

However all of the above is still about structured building blocks, it is just the ability to assemble those a little bit more flexible which improves the support for certain business cases.

Beyond those business cases there is still a large category of cases where no structure of processing can be defined up front. Decisions on what to do, by whom and with which dependencies are made by individuals based on the nature of the concrete case. Although this kind of collaborative work appears to be unstructured, there is still a requirement to control this unstructured work by making sure that required steps are executed, dependencies defined ad hoc are considered and general progress is tracked and measured.

Because all collaborative work will be logged, it can be used together with data on structured process execution for auditing, obtain performance indicators and other means of an enterprise score-card.

After working on one or more business cases in a collaborative way, the structure of the work on these cases may become a blueprint for a more structured and repeatable execution in the future.

Stardust will support Collaboration as sketched in early 2012.

Both mechanisms – flexible assembly of structured building blocks and flexible, collaborative but however controlled work – are required to cover enterprise value chains more comprehensively and over time build a more seemless business process support across these organizations.