Dynamic process management – dream or reality?

I was helping an NGO as they did a food hand-out to hundreds of poor children in Alexandra, Johannesburg. As we were doing the hand-out, the original plan for the hand-out process had to be adjusted on-the-fly as we discovered there were problems with the process. We didn’t stop to review the process in detail, then present a proposal to change it. Someone had an idea how to re-organise some tasks, and we adjusted to it, and continued on.

That experience made me wonder if organisations could ever get to that stage of dynamic process management. In the past, processes had to be defined, documented and agreed, and neither the levels of technology nor communication enabled that to be done quickly in the first place, or when processes needed to change.

However, with the rise of social networking and collaboration in the organisation (the Enterprise 2.0 phenomenon), the speed and channels for communication have increased such that rapid communication across and between groups should not be so difficult. That means that if a problem is found in a process, there should be no reason why the situation cannot be immediately communicated to the people in the organisation who can review and change it.

On the technology side, process management software now allows organisations to graphically create and manipulate processes that will be performed. Software like SYSPRO Process Management connects directly to the enterprise software applications that the business runs, so that as a process is configured, the underlying ERP system is also configured. That means that if a process is found to be problematic, the process management software could be used to re-configure the process and the ERP system more quickly than has been possible before.

There are obviously other issues that need to be considered when changing processes, it’s obviously not as simple as I am describing; for example, there might be performance and testing considerations. But I am starting to wonder whether dynamic process management could become a reality in business, in other words almost real-time process management and change. Or is that just a dream?

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