Critical to manage for an Organization’s Success
When the work that happens in an organization we normally think in terms of processes. Here, processes are a set of activities or tasks that when completed together accomplish a business goal. Is that simple enough right? Not quite.
Two Type of Processes
The structured processes have clearly defined start and end states, and they have a clear set of activities and tasks that happen to reach the end state (it follows a repeatable pattern).
These processes are known as ad-hoc, informal, expert, case etc. Unstructured processes have a start, but the activities and tasks are not necessarily consistent, and the end state is not predictable.
Do you know which type of processes most of the organizations are running on? Unstructured. And that’s why BPM solutions are so vital to the success of an organization.
A Few Examples!
These include processes that manage compliance and regulations, perform exception handling, involve contract management, require investigation and collaboration and so on. Here are few specific examples,
- Managing a complaint from a customer
- Deciding on new products to make or new markets to enter
- An application for a mortgage
- An internal audit
- Resolving an insurance claim
There are many common characteristics of unstructured processes
It is not just one single person involved the process. Here, each instance of the process requires a lot of collaboration with different parties including both internal and potentially external to the organization. This collaboration might be to get certain information, to discuss issues and options, perform activities and so on.
Decisions in an unstructured process are based on a lot of information, and this information can come from many different people, places, and systems.
There is no particular answer or end-result in an unstructured process. Each step, or activity, each decision is driven by the previous one and depends on the knowledge and thinking of the person managing the process.
There is no definite way to complete an unstructured process. Each next step depends on the previous one, and could be completely different every time you run the process. The steps and information needed are determined on the fly using the person’s judgment in coordination with the events and any rules and guidelines.
Business processes can also be semi-structured which means part of the process follows a clearly defined repeatable pattern while other parts are unstructured and based on the knowledge and decision-making of the person managing the process.
Normally, unstructured processes are handled by knowledge workers. Knowledge workers are the insurance agents, the financial analysts, the mortgage brokers, the doctors and lawyers, software engineers, scientists, and so on.
“The main criteria of a knowledge-worker are that that they think for a living.”
It’s not just knowledge workers, however executives, boards of directors, and anyone who performs work to support a business objective uses unstructured processes.
Unstructured business processes that quite important to business, this is where much of the work is done that drives the business forward. It is important to know that a majority of an organization’s processes are unstructured, you can’t afford to ignore them.
You can’t decide if it’s time to look at entering new markets or creating new products to continue the forward momentum of your business. So you gather together a group of people in the business to look at the opportunities available to you. This is the start of an unstructured process that includes deep research into how your business is doing today and what markets it’s most successful in; what products are being created and requested by customers; what’s happening in the world related to your business; and so on. It requires discussions and collaboration between internal stakeholders and knowledge workers, external research firms and business communities. It requires a group to think about the options and decide as they move through the investigation process which path seems the best to take. Simply put: without innovation, your business will stagnant.
Maybe it’s a complaint from a customer or the processing of an insurance claim or request for additional financing. These processes are all unstructured or semi-structured, and the result is a happy – or unhappy – customer. Happy customers are satisfied customers. They advocate on your behalf, purchase additional products and services and drive the overall success of your company.
Ensure Your Organization is Compliant
Whether your organization needs to follow strict regulations or they need to adhere to important compliance guidelines, unstructured processes ensure you are compliant. Regular audits are unstructured processes that move through the process of determining if rules are followed, where issues may lie, and how to resolve them. Non-compliance can mean losing an important certification, or it can be thousands of dollars in fines – either way you need to have the processes in place to ensure your organization is on track.
We seem to pay a lot of attention to structured business processes because they are easily identified, modeled and automated. But they comprise only a small portion of the processes that happen in most organizations today.
As digital transformation continues to take on a more critical role for success, organizations need to focus on the unstructured processes that drive innovation and creativity and keep customers happy.