Processes remain important for achieving success and comfortable, effective work. But why is this topic important? First of all, because all our activities take place within organizations. One, several.... and each organization has its own business processes that we interact with in one way or another when implementing our projects.
We always consider business processes and project management processes. At the same time, we are talking about process management or an approach that is opposed to project management. This way, we compare and separate these processes.
But is this really the case? I'd like to propose the next questions:
1.What does a process mean.
2. BP & PMP together or not?
3. BP + PMP = sustainable growth and development.
1. What does ‘a process’ mean?
To talk about something, it is important to understand what it is. There are different definitions of ‘a process’. For example, in systems theory, a process is defined as a movement, a change in the system.
Figure 1. Process description
A process is a single action (or sequence of operations) which convert inputs to outputs, using different resources and tools.
A subprocess is a part of a process that can be considered as an independent unit of the process.
Operation is the essential element of the process. It has the simplest relationship between input and output.
Each process, subprocess, or operation has input, output, structural parameters, control actions, possible interferences, and tools.
Input is the source of the process's activity (subprocess, operation). Input parameters are parameters that characterize everything that we have at the input of the process (subprocess, operation).
The output is the process (subprocess, operation) goal or a result. Output parameters are the parameters, which characterize everything that we get as an output of the process (subprocess, operation).
All process inputs and outputs represent material, financial and information data flows. Through these flows, the processes are interconnected and the company connects with other companies.
Structural parameters are the parameters that characterize the process (subprocess, operation) state.
Control parameters are the parameters that manage the process (subprocess, operation). Their changes entail a change in the structural and output process parameters.
Possible interferences are the parameters that reflect the process (subprocess, operation) relationship with the external environment. Their changes influence the input, structural and output parameters.
‘Tools’ refers to actions that transform inputs in the outputs. They are performed by machines, instruments, human resources, and/or software during the process. To obtain the schema of the process, it is necessary to allocate separate goals within the overall goal of this process.
Figure 2. A schema of the processes
A schematic description of the processes helps to achieve the goal. Because when we describe processes and know, for example, what we want to get out of them, we look at what we can do with what we have to achieve it in these conditions.
Creating a description helps:
Having a complete description of the processes, we understand how to achieve our goal with the existing initial conditions from the starting point.
We can create a description with varying degrees of detail, iteratively.
The main thing is that when writing a description, we keep our focus on our goal.
The success of any activity, whether it is managing an individual project, program, and/or project portfolio, or operating activities, depends on the processes that are properly organized in it. Processes can be grouped according to their degree of difficulty:
Monoprocess – monosyllabic repetitive actions.
Nested processes are chains of actions built from single processes. Related processes are sequential chains of single processes within algorithms. Types of business processes based on the hierarchy principle: Individual horizontal processes – actions of individual employees. Cross-functional horizontal processes – border interactions between employees of "neighboring" departments. Horizontal processes – the interaction of horizontally. Vertical processes-vertical interaction (pure hierarchy). Integrated processes-chains of employees ' actions vertically and horizontally at the same time.
An integral part of the General definition is extremely important details, which can be called the main characteristics of a business process: there are no business processes without people. If we are talking about actions performed by machines or software, then this is already a technological chain or specification. In addition, the final result of the technological process is always the same, without options. In a business process, the result may differ depending on certain conditions specified in the chain ("forks" of options).
More than one person is always involved in the business process. Even if the actions are scheduled for one (individual horizontal process), there are always implicit "colleagues" in the process – for example, customers. There is no business process without a description. Sometimes processes are described "as is", sometimes - "as should be". In both cases, this is a very creative thing. No type of business process can be 100% perfect.
There is always the possibility of optimization, either immediately or in the future. Adjustment and improvement, taking into account the human factor and especially scientific and technological progress, is one of the main advantages of the process approach over any other management systems. Improving business processes constantly and without end-this slogan is suitable for everyone who is seriously engaged in process modeling.
2. BP & PMP together or not?
How do business processes and project management processes correlate now?
We always consider them separately, some in the context of process management and others in the context of project management. Business process management is the opposite of Project Management; compare and separate.
There are different types of organizational management models, as there are different business and project management processes. We have functional and project-oriented models.
When we combine functional and project-oriented structures, we get a matrix structure.
In process management, we have the one head -the owner of the process, in project management - the project Manager.
Look at the control operations. We measure process performance by KPI (key performance indicators). project's measures are terms, budget, and quality of execution.
When talking about project management, many people focus on controlling deadlines and budgets, mention quality, but leave the result itself, the product of the project, as if unimportant. Nevertheless, it is the quality that speaks about the control of results.
The project's limitations are also resources and customer satisfaction.
We have the following methodical principles for business processes:
1) TQM-Total Quality Management Universal quality management appeared in the 60s to refer to the Japanese approach to managing companies. This approach assumed continuous improvement of quality in various fields of activity – production, procurement, sales, organization of work, etc. In the modern sense, TQM is considered as a philosophy of organizational management.
2) CPI-Continuous Process Improvement; a process management methodology based on the idea of continuous process improvement.
3) BPI-Business Process Improvement-strategic management Standards aimed at continuous improvement of business processes.
4) BPR-Business Process Reengineering is a fundamental rethinking and radical re-planning of the company's business processes to dramatically improve their performance indicators, such as costs, quality, service, and speed.
5) BPM-Business Process Management is a management concept that brings together strategy, goals, culture, and organizational structure, roles, policies, regulations, methodologies, and software tools for designing, implementing, monitoring, analyzing, managing, and continuously improving business processes.
To manage the project management processes, we use the PM BOK. In fact, we can use all the methodologies for working with business processes for project management processes. But first of all, of course, TQM and CPI. Even now, for example, in agile, we are talking about constantly identifying what needs to be improved to make work more effective, no matter what it is about, whether it is a relationship in the team, or creating more comfortable working conditions, or improving the work process, for example, we will change something in the process, we will perform it faster.
Business processes are important for maintaining current activities and developing the organization as a whole as a single structure, and project management processes are important for fulfilling the organization's objectives, achieving goals, and implementing strategies. Both are equally important. But they do not exist separately from each other. When executing projects, we always take into account and use existing business processes.
However, sometimes poor coordination between them hinders effective work. For example, we need software development to complete a project, contractors set too long deadlines and prices, but at the same time it is not accepted in the organization to do development on their own, and the Department responsible for information support is not ready to rebuild so quickly. The project requires the creation of new business processes, their coordination and implementation.
The same thing happens if we want to hire new staff with the right competencies that were not used before. We need to review the organizational structure and business processes, develop and agree on new solutions. In other words, we see again that the needs of the project and the requests coming from it cannot be met as quickly as it would be required.
The same thing happens with the involvement of contractors. These problems are especially relevant for large organizations.
For small organizations, the problem often lies in the lack of resources for project execution and the inability to expand quickly, but with rapid growth, there may be a loss of control and efficiency if you do not change the organization's processes at the same time.
The input of a large number of project management processes is organizational project assets [PMBOK Guide, p.39]. OPAs may be grouped into two categories. The first category includes processes, policies, and procedures. And the second category includes organizational knowledge bases.
The assets in the first category are usually established during organization business processes, and these functions outside of the project. They can be updated only by the appropriate organizational policies associated with updating processes
Let's imagine that we are implementing project management in a large company based on agile. We have several teams on the project working on new principles.
What do we see?
Firstly, teams cannot be 100% engaged in projects. They are simultaneously participants in a number of other business processes according to the organization's structure, where they are assigned certain functional requirements that they must fulfill.
Secondly, even if they are free to work on the project as much as possible and quickly solve their tasks, those tasks that require interaction with other functional units cannot always be solved at the right time and with the expected result.
There may be situations when business processes do not allow you to solve problems using methods that are expected by the team. For example, if an organization decides to start developing information systems for itself on its own, but its business processes are focused on purchasing software from third-party developers, even if you start creating a development team in parallel without reviewing the business processes, this will cause difficulties and internal conflicts.
For example, there will be resistance from those departments that purchase software and provide infrastructure, as they may begin to feel that they want to be replaced. This resistance can lead to teams not getting data on existing systems and infrastructure, and team processes will be slowed down. There may also be attempts to prove that teams are ineffective.
In other words, when business processes and project management processes come into contact, there may be a situation called "bottleneck," when the speed of work of departments does not correspond to the desired speed of solving project tasks. In this case, there is a loss of time, cost, and quality. An organization is a single organism and all processes in it must be synchronized. Or, for example, you are working on agile, you need to attract additional resources through outsourcing, but the procedure for attracting them is much longer than the planned duration of the project. And we see the bottleneck again.
Sometimes there may also be resistance when proposed solutions from the project team can simplify/eliminate individual business processes. Resistance is usually provided by those who are responsible for these business processes.
Indeed, even in project organizations, there are business processes, because there is a number of operational tasks that are carried out separately in all organizations, such as accounting, legal Department, recruitment, etc.
Integration is designed to eliminate the bottleneck.
In order for project management processes based on both waterfall and the agile and DevOps philosophy to work in your organization, you need to:
• to identify bottlenecks;
• develop a unified system of business processes and project management processes with the possibility of flexible modification and expansion;
• to refine existing processes;
• develop a plan for the transition to a new system of work;
• select key staff for the implementation of the transition, to form a team;
• implement the plan, analyze the results, make adjustments and changes.
Meanwhile, if you look at the statistics of project failure, along with the obvious leader of the failure, such as the formation of product requirements, we see such reasons as the inability to manage changes, not being able to determine the scope of the project, insufficient involvement of management....and so on, that is one of the most important reasons is poorly debugged processes and methods of managing them.
For example, we call the following reasons:
• lack of the resources;
• scope creep;
• poor project handling;
• lack of interest from the stakeholders;
• not paying attention to warning signs;
• setting unrealistic deadline;
• poor requirements.
“The primary reasons for budget overspending come as a result of poor forecasting (50%), project scope increasing during implementation (39%) and issues of interdependencies and conflicts between multiple projects (36%). This isn’t helped by the lack of visibility and control that CIOs have over their project portfolios - 40% of IT directors don’t have complete visibility over the initiatives they are running, so cannot see when projects are threatening to run over budget”. [https://www.zdnet.com/article/new-research-into-it-project-failures/].
Even if you have an excellent understanding of the product, you were able to form clear and understandable requirements, implementing which you will create a successful product, but you do not have debugged processes for their implementation, then your project has every chance to increase the number of failed projects.
3. BP + PMP = sustainable growth and development.
Any business development starts with process organization. Before starting a new business or expanding an existing business, we need to have clearly defined processes and a clear understanding of these processes. If we don’t, we will only increase the chaos. We even risk destroying any good assets which we have, including our relationships with customers. If we are just starting our project, we are also going to need a clear understanding of which processes we will need. And organize them. We don’t need to create the new processes, we can use existing business-processes.
We've shared these things for too long, but now that we want to be fast, flexible, efficient, and produce great products, we have to use the best we have. All best practices and methodologies. You can't get stuck on one. According to the guide ISO 9001, businesses are divided into the following process groups [https://www.projectmanagement.com/blog-post/53056/What-does-a-business-need-first-in-order-to-begin-growing-]:
• management processes;
• main processes;
• supporting processes.
Let's remember how many project management processes we have.
Figure 3. Project Management Process Groups
Strategic management is correlated with the following project management processes: Develop Project Charter; Develop Project Management Plan; Define Scope; Identify Stakeholders; Plan Scope Management; Collect Requirements. For example, we initiate a project, this part is most well worked out in many organizations and almost all have prescribed procedures for launching projects. At the same time, it is very important that they do not become a mere formality, that the Charter of the project is the guiding and main document, then it will work.
Many organizations have normative documents on how to prepare the Charter, there are regulations for its consideration and approval.
Quality management is correlated with the following project management processes: Plan Quality Management; Manage Quality; Control Quality.
Organization management is correlated with the following project management processes: Project Resource Management; Plan Communication Management; Monitor Communication; Identify Stakeholders; Plan Stakeholder Engagement; Manage Stakeholder Engagement; Monitor Stakeholder Engagement.
This will help to create an effective structure for executing projects in the organization and rules for allocating resources, which is one of the most important tasks, since a project-oriented structure may lack competencies, and a functional structure may lack resources. In practice, departments can be formed in an organization as teams that include the project Manage /Department, designer, analysts, and developers. The exchange of experience is made through communication with other teams, the formation of a common knowledge base.
Contractor management is correlated with the following project management processes: Plan Procurement Management; Conduct Procurement; Control Procurement.
In a number of organizations, companies invite potential contractors to perform work and work out these issues with them. If there is one contractor, there are risks that the work will be done in the interests of the contractor, focusing on its technology, regardless of how good and modern they are.
Therefore, in some companies there is a practice of attracting several potential contractors to these works. This process allows the selection of the best contractor on a competitive basis, eliminating or reducing protectionism.
The process goes as follows: Meetings are held with representatives of each of the contractors, a General description of the project, goals is formed, each contractor works on this task and prepares documents. Then a General meetup is organized, to which technical specialists of various contractors are invited, they receive a task.
Customer management is correlated with the following project management processes: Develop Project Charter; Plan Risk Management; Close Project or Phase.
Partner management is correlated with the following project management processes: Plan Quality Management; Manage Quality; Control Quality.
Financial planning and budgeting management is correlated with the following project management processes: Plan Cost Management; Estimate Costs; Determine Budget; Control Costs.
Best practice examples.
There is a Russian company that runs an advertisement platform for companies and people. It is a big service in Russia. The main principles are adapting the structure to reality, autonomy, and freedom of teams.
Another Russian company sells the clothes. It also works with their processes and improvement. Their main principle is moving from product teams to teams that focus on solving user tasks. It helps them to work effectively.
There is an interesting example of Sportify. A team framework is great for the future of Buffer, and they are slowly building toward this type of squad-chapter makeup across the rest of the Buffer team. It’s a more modular way to build teams, and it’s been really instructive as they figure out what the future of Buffer looks like—and how big it might become. It helps them to grow fast. On their website they are showing their product team evolution from the one team for everything through decision making model to the goal-focused squads and the role-based chapters. If squads are about goals, chapters are about roles and expertise. Cross-squad chapters can go deeper into their specific area and keep learning.
Figure 4. Squads & chapters
To create favorable conditions for project implementation and business development, you need to:
1. consider business processes and project management processes in the same coordinate system;
2. integrate business processes with project management processes;
3. Build squads and chapters to implement the main business processes.
1. Focus on business value, not technical details.
2. Establish clear accountability for measured results.
3. Have consistent processes for managing unambiguous checkpoints.
4. Have a consistent methodology for planning and executing projects.
5. Include the customer at the beginning of the project and continually involve the customer as things change so that the required adjustments can be made together.
Any business development starts with process organization. Before starting a new business or expanding an existing business, we need to have clearly defined processes and a clear understanding of these processes. If we don’t, we will only increase the chaos. We even risk destroying any good assets which we have, including our relationships with customers. If we are just starting our business, we are also going to need a clear understanding of which processes we will need.
It does not matter how many people there are. If there are a lot of people and departments, then processes will be distributed among the departments and people. If there are not enough people, each person will need to perform more functions, and we will know what people we need based on the number and types of functions. In a startup, often one person wears many hats.
So what would we do first?
According to the guide ISO 9001, businesses are divided into the following process groups:
The processes in the first group and the third group are almost the same for different businesses.
The Management processes are the activity of creating the strategy and forming the development direction, management model and principles.
This first group includes the following processes:
1) Strategic Management;
2) Quality Management;
3) Organization Management;
4) Contractor Management;
5) Customer Management;
6) Partner Management;
7) Public Relations Management;
8) Financial Planning and Budgeting.
The main processes are the activities directly assumed by the charter company documents and forming the main product for the market/society.
How would we know these main processes?
The main processes depend on what kind of business you have.
At the beginning we need the clear understanding your goal. After that we have to formulate the main tasks which you will want decide to reach your goal.
So, we know our main processes.
Auxiliary/supporting processes are activities, which are necessary to support the main processes, to form a single platform and typical rules of the unit and processes interaction within all other processes.
This third group includes the following processes:
1) Regulatory Information Management;
2) Project Management;
3) Information Technology and Security Management;
4) Workflow Document Management;
5) Archive Documents storage;
6) Stuff Management;
7) Transportation Management;
8) Administrative Management
9) Supply Chain Management.
When we know our processes we have to describe their inputs and outputs. Process inputs and outputs can be material, financial and information. Each business has own inputs and outputs.
If we only create a company, we describe our company model. If we already have a company, we also describe the model, in this case we don't need to think about our current structure when you make description, we have to think about your goals and tasks for reaching these goals. When we will get the model we can compare our current processes and our model, we will see what we have and what we have not. After process description, we can write the plan for transfer from the current processes to the model processes.
Information about the process description will be in the next article.
I'll always glad to get your feed back and questions.
New Year is coming very soon. So…it’s time for taking stocks and for new trends. I think the most important things which has been affected of all people in outgoing year were the artificial intelligence and using robots. A lot of people worry when they see how quickly these things are developing, growing up and see how they could be dangerous for people.
But for my opinion we have to remember that these thing are only our technologies. Only people can decide how they will use.
At this point I’d like to mention Antonio Guterres, Secretary General, United Nations, who said, that the main rules in the IT, in the using new technologies are that IT and new technologies must be safety and ethical. He said this in his speech on the Web Summit in Lisbon, November 2018, which called “Nurturing a digital future that is safe and beneficial for all”. I was there, I had listen him and it was really inspiring.
And I completely agree with him. Only if people will use new technologies, including AI and robots, in this way humans will go to next level their development.
A lot of people feel fear that robots could change the people, but for the now it's not possible. Just look at the example from China Xinhua News. Their experiment with the robot as a news ancor was fail, because it was not interesting to see the robot, the robot had had a voice and appearance modelled on Zhang Zhao, a real ancor with Xinhua. But a lot of people didn’t like it because there is no emotions, it was some monotonously. And yesterday I had got the “2019 PMO Predictions: 4 trends for the digital workplace” by changpoint.com. I see an interesting thing in these trends because they all concern the above problem.
The first trend is “Digital disruption requires new skill set from your people…but remember, they’re only human”. It means higher demand of the soft skills. We can see it now too when people must have not only technical skills, but it’s very important to have the empathy, flexibility, communication skills, emotional intelligence, creativity, the ability to teach other people, etc.
The second trend is “Digitalization requires an adaptive mindset…and a panoramic view of the landscape”. It means that to have the ability to look at the problem from above, to understand the world processes, to know new technologies, to be flexible for changing the working methods and tools, to think strategically.
The third trend is “Adaptive technology is your friend…and your transformativeally”. It means that we have to enjoy these technologies and find the best using of them in our activities and agile technologies.
The forth trend is “Collaboration…the blending of people skills and digital delivery”. Digital delivery will continue growing up, and it could be very useful in any businesses.
We can't also deny robot and AI father development and, for my opinion we could find the ways of effectivness collaboration, it will give us a lot of benefits.
I'd like to propose to listen a talk between Rao Dalio and Garry Kasparov on the Web Summit 2018 “Artificial intelligence is making more and more of our decisions for us. If this capacity limitless or are there some things only human intuition can determine?”
It would be interesting to know your view point. Don't hesitate, leave your comment. Have a nice day and successful stories!