Marlon Dumas

Marlon Dumas

Adjunct Professor with the Information Systems School at Queensland University of Technology and Professor of Software Engineering at the University of Tartu.

Location Tartu, Estonia

Activity

  • Yes absolutely. Thanks for sharing these thoughts. Belief is a strong driver. The process stakeholders have to believe in the benefits of the process change collectively.

  • Sorry, the correct link is this one:
    http://accadvisor.blogspot.com/2013/03/p3-business-analysis-harmons-process.html
    This one is also relevant:
    http://accalecturenotes.blogspot.com/2011/02/what-is-processstrategy-matrix-for.html

    But if you want to know more, it's best to get this information directly from Paul Harmon's Business Process Change book. It...

  • Great example of how important it is to know the "why" of every step, especially business-value-adding steps.

  • Absolutely correct, the definition of "good" or "bad" in a customer-facing process is a matter of customer expectations. Good and bad are relative terms. They depend on what the customers expect, and this is largely determined by what they can find elsewhere. If what they can find elsewhere becomes "better" in some respect, then our process has suddently...

  • Thanks for raising this point Ted. Companies certainly creates value in the business and we should stress it. By the way, all tasks related to payment collection are BVA as well, and certainly we would not do without them. The point with BVA steps is that we should do them, but also, we should make them as "transparent" as possible to the customer. The...

  • The evaluation of the application (by a committee) is VA, as is the notification. This is the happy path, what the customer wants us to do...

  • Or you can organize a workshop with the appropriate stakeholders, you can do a "sticky notes" session, with three colors of sticky notes: red for NVA, yellow for BVA and green for VA. Have the participants in the workshop brainstorm steps of each type, and have them put them on top of a value chain (or high-level model) of the process on a blackboard. So you...

  • Absolutely - the Pareto principle is very evident in a process portfolio. There is always a handful of processes that are responsible for the highest revenue/cost.

  • This is great. A big advantage of having mapped your process with those of industry reference models is that you might now be able to benchmark your processes against those of your peers in the industry. APQC for example provides a lot of benchmarking data, maybe you find some benchmarking data there for your specific vertical.

  • Thanks for clarifying this point. Yes you are perfectly right, in the prioritization step of the process identification phase, the goal is to classify the processes in an organization into those that "we should examine" and those that we temporarily "put on hold" (read: give lower priority).

  • As you have hinted, there's no way to future-proof a product or process portfolio forever. What we can do instead is to build up a system of continuous product and process improvement, where products and processes are continuously monitored and weaknesses and opportunities are continuously identified and addressed. Establishing a culture of continuous...

  • Large companies have hundreds or even thousands of processes. It is not possible nor desirable to spread limited resources and management attention to improve all of them at once. Hence, in addition to enumerating/designating the processes in a company, we also need to prioritize them. This prioritization effort should be driven by the company's strategy. For...

  • Thanks for this detailed analysis. Some of the issues (and causes) you spot were actually an issue in the company from which this process description is inspired. In particular, works engineer were indeed providing approvals only a couple of times a day and this sometimes led to the rental request being pushed to the next day, and the equipment only arriving...

  • Great try!
    In general, approvals have a business reason to exist (although you would be right to say that some companies and gov agencies abuse of them).
    It turns out that in the company referred to in this case study, the works engineer is the one responsible to overseeing construction projects. His approval serves both as a way to check that there is...

  • Thanks for the contribution. A couple of comments:
    - Approvals are generally BVA. They add value to the business, they reduce risk and allow us to achieve compliance and orderly running of the business. They are however rarely VA, except if what the customer is seeking is precisely an approval, which is the case in an applicationt-to-approval process (e.g....

  • Thanks for this detailed answer. A couple of comments:
    - Paying an invoice is BVA rather than VA. It does not add direct value to the customer (BVA), but of course, the business needs to pay its invoices, otherwise the consequences are severe.
    Nice analysis of the issues.

  • Absolutely spot-on. With respect to your doubt (logging into spreadsheet), I would indeed argue that this is BVA. Maintaining a record of rented equipment, their cost and rental can help us later to quantify how much are we renting? Are all these rentals necessary? Do they add value? How much could be saved in absolute numbers if we tried to reduce the amount...

  • Tere Kairi,
    You are right to suggest that activities related generating customer leads are value-adding. Such activities do not occur in this particular case study because the case study relates to a purchase-to-pay process.
    A similar remark can be made about "improving customer service". It is BVA. Absolutely necessary for the sustainability and growth of...

  • Thanks for your contribution. I fully agree with your VA and BVA step. Maybe the fact that the clerk selects the most suitable equipment and checks its availability is VA - in the sense that the site engineer would otherwise have to do so. Or at least one could argue that it is BVA.
    (Re-)work caused by defects is NVA as you rightly point out. Transportation...

  • Great try!
    In general, approvals have a business reason to exist (although you would be right to say that some companies and gov agencies abuse of them).
    It turns out that in the company referred to in this case study, the works engineer is the one responsible to overseeing construction projects. His approval serves both as a way to check that there is...

  • Thanks Jocelyn for this very in-depth analysis

  • Spot-on Jackie. You went on step further w.r.t. to what we were expectint at this point.

  • Yes, definitely - customer feedback would be particularly important here. It provides the initial set of "issues" from which we can start the analysis, as discussed later in the course.

  • Good start... We'll see later that maybe the clerk is not really needed in this process, and that the supplier could be playing a more pro-active role...

  • Thanks Roger for this detailed and perfect answer!

  • Thanks for the comment. We'll take note for next time.

  • Very detailed and absolutely perfec answer indeed!

  • yes absolutely, the supplier is an actor in this process. It's an external actor.

  • Perfect answer!

  • Spot-on answer!

  • xcellent answer on all points. Please note though that the customer in this process is the "site engineer", not BuildIT.
    Why? Because this is a procure-to-pay process, and a procure-to-pay process is an internal process. An internal process is initiated by a stakeholder (e.g. employee) inside a company (inside BuildIT). In this case, the one who initiates the...

  • Thanks, nice contribution. We will see later in the course how this process could be re-designed - e.g. by putting the onus on the rental supplier to make sure that BuildIT has the right equipment at the right time (i.e. letting the supplier be more proactive).

  • Excellent answer. The customer is the "site engineer", since he or she is the one who starts an instance of the process. The site enginer is the one who wants to get the correct equipment delivered and picked-up at the needed dates.
    In your performance measures, you mention the "processing time" required to fill in the paperwork. Other performance measures,...

  • Excellent answer on all points. Please note however that the customer in this process is the "site engineer", not BuildIT.
    Why? Because this is a procure-to-pay process, and a procure-to-pay process is an internal process. An internal process is initiated by a stakeholder (e.g. employee) inside a company (inside BuildIT).
    What happens though is that this...

  • Indeed spot-on. I recommend you by the way to have a look at the value-driven BPM framework, which argues that BPM is not only about "quality versus efficiecy" but also about two other axes: the networking-integration axis and the compliance-agility axis. What you mention in your latest comment is a "networking" concern - BPM should contribute to identifying...

  • Yes, quality and efficiency are two common performance concerns. But there are others, e.g. compliance and agility - i.e. the ability to rapidly adapt to changes in the business environment and exploit new business opportunities.

  • Thanks. We have a plan to launch an extended version of this course at the end of 2017. The longer version of the course does have examples of more complex processes and a hands-on project were you take an example of a process at an insurance process and apply a range of BPM techniques. So pls stay tuned.

  • Banks have a huge number of processes. For example, they have a loan application process, which starts when a new loan application is received and ends when it is (hopefully) approved and disbursed. One loan application = one process instance.
    What has happened in the banking and financial sectors, is that processes have become highly automated. For example,...

  • This case study refers to a purchase-to-pay process and particularly to the acconts payable part of this process. This is indeed not core. But what Ford learned to do with this and similar initiatives is to acquire the capability of modernising their processes. And they have applied this throghout the company, including in their order-to-cash processes.

  • That is the trick indeed. Oftentimes, efficiency and quality play against each other. You can often increase quality at a higher cost. The trick is to find a way of reducing costs with the same quality (or better quality), or to increase quality at constant (or lesser) cost.

  • Yes, when managing accounts payable (invoices to be paid), you try to postpone the payment as much as possible, within the allowed limits of course.

  • "Lean" refers to a broad management which embraces the idea of eliminating "waste", which on the end means producing with as little input as needed. One of the techniques for process analysis that we will mention consists of identifying and eliminating various types of wastes, such as waste arising from defects or rework. The "lean" management approach...

  • Ford came out stronger out of this and many other process changes. It has had its ups and downs, but over time it remains a strong employer. Nowadays it employs over 200K people, and its employee base has an upward trend, see:
    https://www.statista.com/statistics/297324/number-of-ford-employees/

  • One should see both the short-term and the long-term impact of process change. In the short-term, introducing process change may be painful in many ways, including the local short-term social impact of potential downsizing or re-deployment. In the long-term, businesses come out fundamentally stronger from their process change efforts. Suffice to say that...

  • Not sure that two years is a long enough cycle time to assess the impact of disruptive technology-enabled process innovations - be it anticipatory logistics/shipping, drone delivery, on-the-move 3D printing, etc., which are all in early testing mode. It usually takes longer for these innovations to find their place and for the right tradeoff between complexity...

  • The set of slides used in this MOOC are not publicly available (due to IP policy of institutions involved in the MOOC).
    However, the authors of the "Fundamentals of BPM" MOOC have made our lecture slides available in the companion web site of our book:
    http://fundamentals-of-bpm.org/supplementary-material/lectures/

    The slides found in the above web site...

  • Yes you are right. There is big "shift" in the field of process improvement from focusing on efficiency and compliance (via automation) towards focusing more on customer engagement, customer experience, and more generally a shift from looking for improvements inside the organization (in the backend) towards finding improvements in the way the organization...

  • Another case of outward-looking process innovation at Amazon is predictive shipping:
    http://www.theverge.com/2014/1/18/5320636/amazon-plans-to-ship-your-packages-before-you-even-buy-them

  • Yes, your statement is spot-on, except that the final assessment of the admission application (the one where the committee decides if the application is accepted or not) is value-adding to the customer. This is precisely what the customer wants us to do - to assess the details of the application in order to decide on admission.

  • This is correct:
    - Interactions where relevant information is relayed to the customer are value-adding
    - Control steps, such as checking documents to assess the eligibility of the application, are business value-adding.
    - But even if the process is entirely digital, there can be some non-value-adding steps, such as for example unnecessary emails between the...

  • When assessing business value-adding steps, one should always consider the ratio between:
    - The cost of the check - calculated for example over a large number of process instances (e.g. over an entire year)
    - The benefit that it brings, e.g. in terms of reducing a certain potential loss, e.g. if a check brings down the risk of a potential loss L from 10% to...

  • Yes, our MOOCs are all free and the software used in the courses is available for free. As usual, the only paying item is the optional certificate.

  • Absolutely, critical path analysis is basically about finding the path with the maximum cycle time. However, critical path analysis is used in processes that do not have "conditional branching" (very deterministic processes). In business processes, there are many decisions that have to be taking so a lot of conditional branches (decision gateways) and hence...

  • We are soon going to deliver a longer MOOC (12 weeks) where one week is dedicated to simulation. The longer MOOC has three parts, the ones that would be relevant for simulation are parts 1 and especially 2, see: https://moocs.qut.edu.au/

  • Absolutely correct. This is a typical form of "rework" hence non-value-adding. Thanks for the example.

  • Yes indeed. More generally, all forms of "rework" (having to do the same thing multiple times) is non-value-adding.

  • Rework is a form of non-value-added. Rework can take several forms, for example:
    1. You did something, there was a defect in what you did, it comes back and you have to correct it. The second time you work on it, it's rework, hence NVA.
    2. You do the same BVA step twice just for the purpose of satisfying the idiosyncratic requirements of multiple...

  • Assess application is a BVA step. Notifying the outcome is a VA step.
    Certainly, cycle time is an important performance measure in this process and we should seek to minimize it. Sometimes we can do this by automating or semi-automating some steps (e.g. notification steps can be automated). Other times we can speed up by parallelizing (e.g. think of multiple...

  • Excellent - provided that the available number of places allows it, conditional acceptance can help to "lock in" the customer (the student in this case) and give time for the required BVA steps to take place.

  • Excellent point. When we say that a step is value-adding, it does not necessarily mean that it is "cost-effective" (or profitable) to the business. A step being VA simply means that it adds some value to the customer. This in turn means that can somehow monetize this value. But of course if the cost of performing the VA step exceeds the direct/indirect revenue...

  • Yes, communication steps with the customer can be highly value-adding.

  • Absolutely - when we say that a step is value-adding, it does not necessarily mean that it is cost-effective. Value-adding simply means that it adds value to the customer and hence somehow we can monetize this value. But of course if the cost of performing the VA step exceeds the direct and indirect revenue we get from it, it is not cost-effective and might...

  • Providing "personalized advice" to a customer is generally value-adding. If the customers appreciate this personalized advice more than the "general advice", the personalized advice is bringing them additional value. On the other hand, if the personalized advice does not give customers any additional insights beyond the available "general information", then it...

  • Thanks Eber for this detailed analysis.

  • We are in full agreement here. Control steps should be integrated with value-adding steps wherever possible. This is why we want to identify business value-adding steps (in particular control steps) that are spread across the entire process. Once we have identified all business value-adding steps, we can bring them up as early as possible and embed them with...

  • If the goal is to analyze the weaknesses in the current process, their impact and their root causes, then capturing the "as is" situation is a first step in this direction. Of course, we should always remember that we are modeling for a purpose (understanding, communicating and analyzing the process for example) and we should aim to model enough to achieve...

  • Maybe you are thinking here about "operational-level issues" such as as a specific (one-off) customer complaint, or a one-off defect in a product delivery. These must tracked and resolved of course. But in this segment of the course we are rather referring to "tactical issues" such as recurrent customer complaints or recurrent defects in the execution of the...

  • Absolutely - we will see both Ishikawa/Fishbone diagrams and why-why diagrams in subsequent segments of the course. They can be used in a complementary way.

  • Absolutely spot-on. However note the important of distinguishing "operational-level issues" such as as a specific (one-off) customer complaint, from "tactical issues" such as recurrent customer complaints or recurrent defects in the execution of the process. In the issue register mentioned here, we focus on the tactical issues.

  • The idea of breaking down activities into small steps is meant to facilitate value-added and waste analysis.
    These two types of analysis techniques (together with other analysis techniques) allow us to identify weaknesses in the process.
    These weaknesses are then documented in an issue register.

  • I have seen companies using Jira or similar tools to maintain their process management issue register. It's important though to keep the BPM issue register separate from operational issue registers such as day-to-day issues/complaints. The BPM issue register is for tactical issues, not for operational issues.

  • I agree absolutely Kevin. The issue register must be managed. Input to the register can come from across the organization, but there has to be a person or small group of persons who moderate and consolidate this input, and more importantly, who prioritize the issues and triggers improvement initiatives with concrete action points. Otherwise the issue register...

  • Absolutely - we will get to the notion of "urgent", "less urgent" and non-urgent when we put together the insights from different process analysis techniques into an issue register. This is coming up below.

  • Absolutely. One has to avoid falling into the trap of analyzing the "as if" process (the process we would like to have if everything was perfect). We should analyze the "as is" process.