ISIS Papyrus Software

Posts Tagged ‘empowerment’

Using Technology as Innovation Driver

In general on December 6, 2011 at 2:16 am

While innovation is rightfully widely hailed as a key element of business success the widespread day-to-day practice in many organizations seems to confirm that there is no real commitment to innovative efforts other than paying lip service. Yet most good managers are aware of of this dilemma but the current bureaucratic business and IT environment is usually too rigid to allow them swift responses when opportunities arise. It is therefore essential that managers become technology savvy and understand the immense power of change potential that IT can create. To ensure that their businesses remain competitive they ultimately need to consider how they want to use IT to enable knowledge and innovation.

Only businesses that manage to use technology as an innovation enabler are shooting past those that control IT and/or processes by using excessive bureaucracy in terms of governance, centers of excellence and best practices. Each day a business does not innovate it falls behind because the economy is a six-lane highway and the speed limits are going up each year. If they stop to execute lengthy innovation processes to figure out whether you need to go straight or exit, they will get run over. Missing the right exit will cost time and money. Businesses take thousands of those decisions each day and the more of these are automated, the less does a business consider direction in relationship to outside conditions. Evolutionary change can’t be encoded into innovative processes. The long-term impact of suppressing tacit knowledge and change through optimization is dramatic.

The only way to enable the business to improve innovative processes and emerging practices through transparency, flexibility and adaptability of business operations is an embedded Business Architecture including strategy, capabilities, relationships, business entities, and processes. This in turn requires that the interaction is driven by users and not by some predefined process. All that is needed instead is collaborative information sharing and free-flow execution between many possible service and resolution tasks while management can intervene for guidance and advice. Instead of bureaucracy and methodology to tie them down technology must empower the actors and provide the means to achieve a specified goal and create true business value.

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From Production Work to Knowledge Work

In general, product on September 9, 2011 at 2:28 am

As repeatable production work is more and more on the decrease in advanced economies there is an increased focus on the needs of business users who perform emergent or unstructured knowledge work. This requires technological empowerment rather than a new management methodology. While the business strategy is a top-down definition targeting cost, process innovation that targets quality is most likely more effective bottom-up.

Technology has to support both targets. Most process management  solutions need a substantial amount of software implementation for data interfaces, user front-ends, rule engine integration, and back-end orchestration. But they don’t do much for the business user at all. In difference to conventional IT wisdom, the use of – out of principle well defined and thus rigid – process methodology to make better use of technology becomes a hindrance for innovation. Modularization and standardization create fragmentation and additional complexity of integration. The new concept of moving the process knowledge gathering in the life cycle from the template analysis phase into process execution is referred to as Adaptive Case Management or ACM. The ACM system collects ‘actionable knowledge’ based on process patterns created by business users. Actionable knowledge is not just data, information or descriptive text but knowing which action will lead from the current situation A to a desired situation B. As a first step the solution has to make the user aware of the current situation and what the desired outcome for the customer is. Transparency is also needed up the hierarchy to report process outcomes. Bidirectional transparency includes partners and customers into the virtual process organization for managed collaboration.

Regardless of how processes are implemented and ultimately executed, the team owning the process must be in charge of additions, improvements, and corrections. Business users are enabled by the technology to implement many small low-cost improvements that follow the business architecture and can be verified for benefits within days. Technology is not just relevant in terms of functional capability but more in terms of manageability and adaptability. We must not underestimate the relevance of content. Inbound and Outbound business content must be maintained by business users and transparently integrated into the ACM platform. Transparency mandates embedded security on the object and function level. Each access and function of any item has to be authorized. All objects, data and content have to be controlled. All actors have to be authenticated (ideally biometric) and authorized in role/policy models. All changes to templates and definitions must be audited. Adaptive Process combined with an empowerment management paradigm turns more production workers into knowledge workers. In reality it is quite difficult to use BPM for top-down analysis and simulation of business processes and linking key performance indicators to achieve a continuous improvement cycle. ‘Measure to Manage’ optimization is counterproductive to improvement and innovation. Only empowered actors can use their intuition and experience for sensible action. The dynamics of the economy require a self-organizing structure that is resilient to fast changes through its ability to adapt.

Overcoming Obstacles to Innovation through IT

In benefits on July 29, 2011 at 1:47 am

It is common knowledge that organizations thrive best in competitive markets and fast changing environments through constant innovation. Yet too many organizations face a number of serious obstacles when it comes to promote and foster an innovation-friendly culture.

These obstacles include but are not limited to:

  • Lack or non-alignment of vision, strategy and execution
  • Bean-counter view on cost cutting and short-term financial figures
  • Focus on processes and business goals rather than customer outcomes
  • IT spending channeled into maintenance of status quo
  • Functional borders preventing effective communication

On the other hand, the sources of innovation are also well known and innovation itself is not a matter of geniuses or major breakthrough inventions. More often than not innovation happens gradually and even inadvertently on all levels inside and outside of an organization. Major sources of innovation and contributors of new ideas are among others:

  • Employees
  • Customers
  • Suppliers

Therefore organizations that want to remain competitive need not only to think about reducing costs but more importantly how to use IT to enable existing knowledge and potential for innovation. They need to understand the immense opportunity for change  that information technology can provide when it is used to empower people to improve business processes and to reach transparent strategic goals defined by management instead of disenfranchising them through process management bureaucracy. Only businesses that manage to use technology as an innovation enabler are shooting past those that control IT and/or processes by using defensive business models such as governance, centers of excellence and best practices.

Top-down business transparency ensures that knowledge workers understand why they are doing things, and real-time process transparency enables effective cross-functional communication and allows process owners to intervene immediately when customer quality assessments are poor. Process adaptability allows organizations to yield the results of collaboration and social interaction and to move the process creation and innovation into execution through a well-defined architecture of entity relationships and states, as the prerequisite to define outcomes, targets, goals and rules. These Adaptive Processes enable bottom-up transparency for the process owner and social coaching of the performers to push outcomes in the right direction. All dependencies and responsibilities are immediately transparent to anyone with sufficient authority. Rather than to waste a lot of energy to try and enforce predictability, Adaptive Process enables businesses to utilize the power of emerging processes.

The Elements of Empowerment

In benefits on June 15, 2011 at 8:54 am

The need for the empowerment of business users becomes ever more apparent in modern workplaces and numerous studies prove that it is indispensable when it comes to the effective and efficient support of high-value processes and decision making. Yet the very concept of empowerment itself is repeatedly questioned because there are unclear notions of its meaning and its scope.

However, a good understanding of empowerment and how to use IT to enable knowledge work and innovation is crucial for an organization’s competitive edge. Only businesses that manage to use technology as an innovation enabler are shooting past those that control IT and/or processes by using governance, centers of excellence and best practices. Therefore empowerment for business users centers around the following:

  • Authority
  • Goals
  • Means

What does it mean in detail? Authority for the business user must be within precise boundaries of a business architecture, business rules and security requirements. But there must be a degree of freedom for the social business process network of a business to produce outcomes within clearly defined and transparent goals. Achieving these goals and providing the necessary transparency again requires adequate means in terms of management guidance and technology to turn knowledge into perceived value for the customer. As this includes monitoring and auditing it reaches beyond basic collaboration, email or social enterprise tools. This kind of empowerment that produces results for the business rather needs tools to provide for continuous process improvement by easily adapting to changing business needs instead of flowcharted process models with substantial governance overhead.

Enhancing Interaction, Collaboration, and Innovation

In general on January 26, 2011 at 10:12 am

For any organization with a high amount of knowledge workers in their workforce the improvement of their effectiveness is paramount. Their jobs are mostly characterized by interaction and collaboration—with other employees, customers, and suppliers—and complex decision making based on knowledge and experience and are regarded as high-value activities, which are of growing importance for mature developed economies to maintain an innovative and competitive edge.

Yet the understanding of knowledge work itself and how those engaged in such work perform their tasks is generally fairly poor. This is partly due to the diverse nature of these tasks as compared to production or clerical work. An individual’s knowledge is highly erratic and hazy and the reasoning for judgment is mostly made up ex post. Therefore most so-called knowledge management initiatives have rendered at best mixed results and their efficiency appears to decrease specifically with the number of business units, departments, functional roles, and application silos involved and generally with the size of an organization. Only lately the idea comes to fruition that the whole concept of knowledge management is elusive and that it all boils down to removing barriers of information that exist internally and externally across organizations, their customers, partners, and suppliers and consolidating real-time data, content, business context and rules, processes, and goals in transparent views with customizable GUIs to enhance the user experience and provide a single launchpad for knowledgeable staff to use their expertise to enhance interaction, collaboration and innovation and increase their productivity.

The vision behind Adaptive Case Management from ISIS Papyrus acknowledges the fact that the most effective and efficient way of using people’s talent and skills for productive business outcomes is essentially empowerment to use these assets to the fullest. Papyrus ACM supports knowledge workers uniquely to apply their abilities for case resolution and process execution to secure customer loyalty in complex situations that cannot be resolved by rigidly planned processes or mere delegation or rerouting of tasks. This includes the creation of processes, goals, and milestones by business users and the option to subsequently save them as templates for sharing the experience and knowledge across the enterprise.

Pragmatics of Business Management

In general on January 19, 2011 at 11:20 am

With the dynamic development of business environments and the emergence of new technologies many organizations feel a pressure to align both or face a competitive disadvantage. Or do they? While many technologies are sold under the premise to save cost and provide smooth sailing through the rough waters of economic turmoil they touch only lightly on the first of two fundamental questions of business management:

  1. Are we doing the right things?
  2. Are we doing things right?

These two questions cannot be separated and don’t revolve around the installation of a particular software or system with more or less of this or another flavor. These are pragmatic questions that determine the make or fail of the business, while the choice of ACM over BPM or the other way round is rather abstract in comparison and remains so until a technology can thoroughly answer both of these questions.

Doing the right things right starts essentially with transparency from the top down. Executives first need to make their strategy, directors their targets and managers (process owners) their goals transparent to those who execute. Such a consolidated view allows to look at the things the business is doing to discuss if they are being done right.

Information about how things are going makes only sense in real time. There is little benefit from hindsight about what went wrong and why. Real-time information again only makes sense when people with the proper know-how are empowered to prevent things from going wrong by taking action. Empowering the right people to do the right things right addresses all fundamental questions of business management.  However, empowerment is not about using Twitter, YouTube and iPhone apps but about authority, goals and means.

To know if the business is doing right things right for a certain outcome needs immediate feedback from the customer. Does that mean that the customer ought to be real-time connected to the customer-focused processes of your business? Yes, that is exactly what focused means.

At this point Adaptive Case Management from ISIS Papyrus comes into play. It is essentially empowerment technology that puts the customers and actors in the driver seat. No amount of social networking will improve flow-charted processes before, during, or after things went wrong. ACM allows the business to empower selectively and securely all the people that do things and those for whom things are being done. ACM is about communication and process as ONE! ACM leaves the automation of the low-value, highly repetitive administration tasks to BPM but it provides the platform for the high-value, unique and skill or knowledge intensive customer service processes. That is where customer loyalty and business value is being created and maintained. Moreover, ACM interconnects the management layers and enables continuous  innovation and optimization without ANY bureaucratic governance overhead. Reorganizing a business could become an exercise that executives and directors can perform by rearranging tactical targets from the information workplace on their iPad.

E-Documents: Cost Savings and Simplified Compliance

In markets, product on December 9, 2010 at 8:25 am

Internal processes and technology implementations must be able to accommodate the perpetually fluctuating aspects of business and compliance requirements. From the Basel Accords to Sox, MiFID etc. there’s an ever growing amount of regulations while at the same time businesses have to adapt to changing patterns of customer behavior and to incorporate new channels of communication.

Any business or organization generating high volumes of business communication for their customer base such as financial institutions, insurance companies, utilities, telcos, hospitals, or government agencies, has a critical need to disseminate the most up-to-date information quickly and accurately to end users. However, if a law is changed or terms/conditions are revised and the material reflecting these changes is either inaccurate or not distributed in a timely manner, an institution leaves itself vulnerable to potentially massive fines for non-compliance or even litigation.

Additionally, business and marketing users are pressed hard to keep up with shorter product lifecycles, rapidly shifting consumer behavior and new channels of customer communication. Yet too often their dependency on IT can make simple text or layout changes for marketing messages, legal disclaimers, logos, or new contract templates a matter of months and finally outvalue the potential gains. A common approach to overcome this dilemma is to decentralize document composition using standard office tools or island solutions but this again creates issues with compliance and CI and increased time-to-market and usually turns out to be even more inefficient and costlier.

The ideal solution would therefore unleash the power of multi-channel communications, reduce time-to-market, enable document reuse, and enforce compliance while business and marketing users retain control over their documents and reduce their dependency on IT.

The Papyrus Platform from ISIS Papyrus provides the ability to automatically close the communications loop across all channels and to deliver personalized communications, integrated marketing campaigns, TransPromo campaigns, and structured ad-hoc communication for increased customer retention while achieving full compliance through process-embedded regulation and audit control.

The Expert View on Processes

In general, solution on November 22, 2010 at 10:28 am

As BPM and its process planning and automation approach lent from optimizing the assembly line is apparently leading to a dead end in a changing business environment, attention shifts (again) to those unstructured, unpredictable processes that are characteristic for knowledge work.

But what is, in fact, knowledge work? Contrary to wide-spread belief knowledge work is not limited to professionals like lawyers, architects, physicians, engineers, and scientists. Interestingly enough that Wenger’s groundbreaking Communities of Practice which is now something like a textbook for collaborative, highly interactive, and knowledge-intensive settings chose insurance claims processing as backdrop for his research. Not exactly the high-brow activity that is commonly associated with knowledge work. Nevertheless it is an activity that requires certain skills that develop into specialist expertise over time. Looking at knowledge work from this angle it comes as no surprise that we are not talking of a small proportion of the workforce. There are estimates that knowledge workers in North America outnumber every other occupation by at least 4 to 1. This means knowledge workers are the backbone of the economy and what really surprises is that their work requirements have been neglected for so long or have only been addressed with outdated technology concepts.

Now what are the work requirements of these expert workers? To answer this question we must be well aware HOW they work and make decisions to accomplish specific goals. Apart from field studies by Wenger and others, we see certain traits common to all expert work. Gary Klein has identified those traits and describes them in terms of what an expert sees:

  • Patterns and relationships that others do not notice
  • Anomalies
  • The big picture
  • The way things work
  • Opportunities and improvisations
  • Differences that are too small for others to detect

Back in 1998 Wenger already observed that designers tried to tie down knowledge in forms, which is a quite common feature even today. Instead of providing insights and information such a design focuses on procedures and on hiding their meaning from users. From the above it is clear that neither forms nor formalized processes can support the key characteristics of knowledge work, whatever the specific field may be.

The technology concept and the vision behind the Papyrus Adaptive Case Management Platform do away with the patterns of prescription that business users are forced into in many service-oriented and customer-facing environments up to this day. Instead Papyrus ACM gives users full transparency to see WHY they need to do certain things to meet specific targets and provides them with the flexibility to adapt their processes during execution according to their own judgment. The ability to make decisions based on real-time access to data and communications is a prerequisite for the effective interaction with customers, which is what most knowledge workers engage in. Businesses in turn profit from this sort of empowerment because effective customer communication is the ultimate benchmark for business success and growth.

Tech Update and New Blog for ACM

In benefits, general on October 22, 2010 at 8:22 am

As Adaptive Case Management has only fairly recently been discussed by a wider public there are still many questions, uncertainties, controversies and doubts about its meaning and its purpose. Yet ACM shows its importance as ACM is claimed by many while there is actually no basis for it. This makes the discussion even more confusing.

A recently released tech update by ISIS Papyrus and a new blog now shed light on the various aspects of ACM and provide insightful and authoritative information about the topic, explaining how it serves to empower knowledge workers in order to fulfill strategic business goals.

Other aspects illustrate the practical implementation of ACM with the consolidated approach of the Papyrus Adaptive Process Platform. It provides a comprehensive, flexible and scalable solution for the consolidated management of inbound and outbound communications and enables seamless functional cooperation of otherwise distinct products such as ECM, BPM or CRM. It allows organizations to define, measure and manage process, content and data in complex service environments with a single shared customer view and customized GUIs for ultimate transparency.

Adaptive Case Management for User Empowerment

In benefits, general on May 11, 2010 at 2:11 am

Many organizations these days strive to cut the costs of their IT operations while maintaining their customer service quality. This may seem hard to achieve at first sight but the solution is to shift the control of business-relevant processes from IT to business users without giving up the integrity of the core systems.

This is a key idea behind the concept of the Adaptive Case Management concept from ISIS Papyrus which empowers expert business users. In fact they are enabled to adapt processes as necessary with complete independence of the underlying application logic. This allows them to fulfill strategic business goals without relying on a rigid and complex custom-coded IT infrastructure.

The approach behind this is not to restrict business users in their execution but to guide them collaboratively by process definitions, monitored by business rules and measured by goal fulfillment without the need for integrating different product fragments of one or multiple software vendors. Papyrus provides seamless consolidation of freely-definable processes, rules, GUI, forms, and inbound and outbound content objects.