I would like to share my new insights into the Process world and build on Process Technology Trends Understanding Business processes (or any processes for that matter) needs a deeper look at work itself. In some sense its a history of evolution of man and machine. Over the years human work has transitioned from manual labor to increasingly intellectual work (as in designing better machines which automate manual work if you like). In this transition the processes followed by humans to do work also changed.
In modern organizations its normal to see most (manual) work automated with humans usually acting as handlers of “exceptions” in process when things do not work “as designed”. The traditional “blue collar” (as in manual work) and “white collar” (as in management work) jobs are being replaced by new terms such as “information worker”, “knowledge worker” and “business user”. Without going into what this terms can mean, in any organization we have one set of people working on the planning/monitoring (be it strategy, new product/service ideas, process design,…) and other set working on the operations to get things done. With the companies increasingly demanding more from there employees (be it in form of performance based pay, regular reviews,..) the pressure to generate more value from the workforce is ever increasing. This also manifests itself in ‘flat organization structures’ and more power being given to the edges (i.e. people who actually get things done). Some key patterns in modern work are increasing need for “human interactions” and ad-hoc/semi-structured human workflows. Check link (http://human-interaction-management.info/) for some interesting insights into how such adhoc human interactions can be managed. The patterns it introduces are REACT (Research, Evaluate, Analyze, Constrain and Task) with the Research phase itself being further broken down to AIM (Access, Identify and Memorize) stages. REACT pattern rightly identifies the different stages a knowledge worker goes through in his work, it also provides details on how human interactions needed to transform information into knowledge that can be executed as work tasks. While tool support for such interaction patterns are still evolving, it rightly identifies that processes with human interactions (using digital tools or otherwise) are at the heart of knowledge work.
Another interesting view to process patterns can be checked out at link (http://www.global360.com/blog/index.php/2008/03/04/prevalent-process-patterns-enable-bpm-benefits-differently ). At one end are core standardized processes (mostly automated) and at the other ad-hoc/semi-structured domain experts driven work processes. Most process platforms (in all the different flavors that they come) are good at handling standardized (i.e. static and pre-designed) processes, its in support for dynamic and adaptable processes that new efforts are being focused. Service Orientation (as in exposing of business logic using open api’s) of applications provides a good foundation for design of dynamic processes. Its here that process composition using transactional, analytical and collaborative services can add most value.
One latest addition to the process world is the latest buzz word, ‘Business network transformation (BNT)’. See link (Business Network Transformation (BNT) and process-like interactions) for a interesting view on what BNT could be. In some sense business networks are “business versions” of social networks, so they can have a transformation effect on businesses just as social networks can have on Individuals. As the article rightly points out business context needs standarized network interactions for good reasons. While having such collaborative processes with network partners can have transformational effects on business, a prerequisite for this is a process platform which can enable such interactions “by design”. In any case a lot of action is in store for the business process expert!.