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Processes May Be Outsourced, Maturity Cannot

Processes May Be Outsourced, Maturity Cannot

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Published by Steven Bonacorsi
I invite you to join as a member of the PEX Network Group http://tinyurl.com/3hwakem, you will have access to Key Leaders Globally, Events, Webinars, Presentations, Articles, Case Studies, Blog Discussions, White Papers, and Tools and Templates. To access this free content please take 2 minutes for a 1 time FREE registration at http://tiny.cc/tpkd0
I invite you to join as a member of the PEX Network Group http://tinyurl.com/3hwakem, you will have access to Key Leaders Globally, Events, Webinars, Presentations, Articles, Case Studies, Blog Discussions, White Papers, and Tools and Templates. To access this free content please take 2 minutes for a 1 time FREE registration at http://tiny.cc/tpkd0

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Published by: Steven Bonacorsi on Jan 10, 2012
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Processes May Be Outsourced,Maturity Cannot
Raju Oak, a Consultant, Researcher and Change Agent specializing in Business Process Management, joins the Process Excellence Network to discuss Business Processes and Complexity.
PEX Network: To start, can you give me some background on your role?
Raju Oak:
I have been a consultant, researcher and change agent in the last 27 years ofmy career. I have been privileged to have witnessed the early days of IT in India, theopening up of the economy, the great migration of intellectual resources, and the rise ofinternational process outsourcing, the growing understanding of process maturity andBusiness Process Management through its many incarnations, seen through the eyes ofvery different industries.I have had the opportunity to work with the first few companies as they attempted andscaled CMMI level 5. This gives me a unique perspective on process that I use to informmy PhD research.I help organizations develop their process maturity based upon the principle that
“processes may be outsourced, maturity cannot”.
PEX Network: Can you tell us a bit about how Process Excellence fits into theculture at Kleinwort Benson (KB), where you worked previously?
Raju Oak:
In a word, uneasily. In common with much of the industry, KB clearly aspiresto Process Excellence. However, like many similar organizations, it is challenged in thefollowing ways:
It has been a turbulent couple of years, with multiple changes of ownership andthe implementation of varying systems replacement strategies. Consequently, while theconcept of process excellence has always been supported in principle, there has beenlittle management bandwidth and airtime afforded to the reality of Process Excellence.
The definition of Process Excellence is at best ambiguous. It focuses at different
on different operational characteristics such as ‘no mistakes’ (quality), ‘
cost’ (efficiency), ‘
resource capability’ (effectiveness), ‘doing that bit more’(flexibility), ‘reducing risk’ (transparency), ‘predictability’ (control) and ‘performance’
(throughput, responsiveness). It is driven at different times variously by internaldepartments, the front office, specific customer needs, regulatory events and owneraspirations. The focus tends to be fleeting and fragmentary so that local improvementscan sometimes propagate undesirable changes in the global process picture.
The process space in KB is not really mapped in a complete or sustainableway. Because of the variety of products and services, processes tend to be overlappedand interdependent with a high degree of resource sharing and distributed accountability.
There is little consensus as regards the process of achieving ProcessExcellence as indeed the ownership of the process. This is largely a consequence of theissues of priority, clarity and visibility already mentioned.
It is important to point out; however, that KB is hardly unique in this regard. Indeed, in thecurrent environment, it would be unusual to find a financial services organization notfacing challenges.
PEX Network: How do organizations typically respond to business processcomplexity and in what key ways can this be improved?
Raju Oak:
This was the subject of my last presentation to the BPE in Financial Services,and this largely depends upon two factors:1. Whether the organization can indeed differentiate between complex andcomplicated processes2. The prevailing mindset in the organization.The former requires a degree of process maturity to have already been achieved. Thelatter is dictated by the dominant organization mindset.
Organizations with the mindset:
That the organization is a machine - tend to deny complexity, and label theconsequences as fl
aws in someone’s competence;
That complexity is a necessary characteristic of organizations - tend to suffer theconsequences and accept domination;
That the organization is a self-managing organism - tend to ignore complexity aslong as they can hoping it will somehow resolve itself;
That the organization is a constant flux and transformation process - try to controlcomplexity, seeing it as a temporary state to be tamed or simplified;
That the organization is an information-processing brain which can think its wayout of complexity - recognize complexity well but avoid it and find a way to survivewithout getting in its way;
That the organization is essentially a culture pick and choose opportunities - tobuild a bridge over complexity (and often charge you to cross it safely)
Addressing complexity involves three R’s
, Recognition, Resourcing & Response:
Recognition is key,
because complexity is different and invidious. It doesn’t come
organized in neat packages that can be labeled and delegated for resolution.
Resourcing is important because resources skilled at managing complicatedness,however large, are rarely appropriate for managing complexity.
Response is important because complexity is more tractable to certain types ofresponse whereas conventional responses tend to further increase complexity.
PEX Network: Can you give some examples of initiatives to deal with complexity -outlining the challenges and solutions used to overcome them?
Raju Oak:
Complexity tends to arise in contexts characterized by:
A network of related entities;
That have behaviors determined by (often dynamic and recursive) relationshipswhich can in turn depend on other relationships;
That all tend to share resources;
That are characterized by distributed ownership; and
That pursues different (often conflicting) outcomes at the micro and the macrolevels.
Examples are:
Within organizations - Strategy and Performance Management, EnterpriseArchitecture and IT Asset Management, Change and Transformation,Compliance, etc
Within industries - complex value chains (consider the payments industry), largeprogram management, administration of complex financial/legal structures, etc.Successful initiatives dealing with complexity are characterized by:
Clarity on outcomes;
Emphasizing understanding before transformation;
Multiple parallel but coordinated actions in a divergence/convergence learningpattern;
Focus on building capability in managing complexity rather than purely oncomplexity resolution
PEX Network: What top tips can you offer to businesses looking to avoid commonpitfalls?
Raju Oak:
My top tips would be:
It is very important to recognize complexity as it is easy to confuse it withcomplicatedness;
Managing complexity requires a very different approach as compared tomanaging complicated processes;
Less is often more when dealing with complexity;
Stability and understanding must precede predictability and change whenplanning transformations involving complexity; and
Understanding is continuous and dynamic. What one understood yesterday maynot be relevant today.
PEX Network: And finally, what is the one take-away that you would like attendeesat the Summit to get from your session?
Raju Oak:
At the heart of complex processes (and indeed complexity) is the dynamicinterdependence of its constituents, and the understanding and visibility of thoseinterdependencies must precede any successful attempt to manage complex processes.
About PEX Network
I invite you to join as a member of the PEX Network Grouphttp://tinyurl.com/3hwakem,you will have access to Key LeadersGlobally, Events, Webinars, Presentations, Articles, Case Studies, BlogDiscussions, White Papers, and Tools and Templates. To access thisfree content please take 2 minutes for a 1 time FREE registration athttp://tiny.cc/tpkd0 

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