The Death of Process, PERIOD!

In his recent blog post ‘The Death of Process as a Product’ Forrester’s David West put forward a very relevant question. This post relates to my comment on his blog.

West says that they find in their research that rather than enforcing rigid development processes IT departments empower teams to make process decisions, educate teams on what they need to do to be compliant, and enable teams to learn new processes and techniques.

West hit the nail on the head. But he bent it. Why does he think that issues with process only relate to software development? I suggest we need to talk about ‘THE DEATH OF PROCESS’, PERIOD. Therefore we also need to talk about the ‘death of (hard-)coding’ for business software. Why?

Our process-illusion has a psychological reason. Our memory does not work with images as many believe but with sequential experiences. Long-term memory works by creating emotional bookmarks in such memory sequences. The emotional bookmarks can also be the decision points that link process pieces together. That leads humans to believe that defining a process is the solution to do things correctly. For situations where ONE person does something complex that has to produce repeatedly the same result process is fine. Linking process pieces together may work also fine for manufacturing. In all other situations that involve human interaction and creativity, process is absolute nonsense. Why would you restrain people by a straight jacket if we want them to be ‘agile’. Arrrgh! How I hate that stupid word.

Most people doing process discovery for BPM find it very hard to extract the GLUE that links that indiviudals process pieces together. The reason is simple. There is no simple link! The linking of process pieces for multiple people is in people’s heads involving human decision making that has to do with those emotional bookmarks. Human decisions are never rational or reasonable but always emotionally intuitive and therefore cannot be encoded into rules that we would need for our pseudo-code, business rules and models. We just need a few business rules that I call BOUNDARY or GAME RULES.

Creating an application that business people find useful and makes them more productive is certainly not related to taking away people’s initiative and restraining their intuition. So we can dump development processes just as we can dump BPM! We need defined goals, some milestones, test scenarios, a way to keep track of all the pieces meaning a meta-data, process and content repository (not an archive!) to manage life-cycle and deployment, ensure as little coding as possible in an iterative, adaptive approach, where IT delivers a first version, which business starts to work with and then new features and improvements are delivered for example biweekly.

Business users need a collaborative environment that puts all business data and content into customer focused process (I rather prefer CASE) context, authorizes users, secures data, tracks progress and enables auditing. Done! What else would you need? Why are we hard-coding all this nonsense business processes with GUIs that need weeks of training and continuous complex maintenance???

If we take the above direction then software development processes become irrelevant! It is the reason that our Papyrus Platform does not work with rigid processes but with dynamic cases. It is the reason that we developed the User-Trained Agent that taps into the emotional decision point of the business user to learn patterns without needing to analyze them. I am hoping that the financial crisis will make businesses look for new ways to work more productively and this silly idea that a business can be run like a web of conveyor belts with be a laughed about idea of the past.

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