Process-free Process Management in PLM

May 13, 2009

In one of my previous posts, I discussed the topic “Should PLM develop its own process tools? “. In this post, I discussed the various PLM approaches related to process technologies. Two main options I had in my mind at that time was to reuse existing process tools/platforms or to develop your\our own PLM tools. Each approach has benefits and disadvantages.

Today, I’d like to talk about something I term “unstructured process management”. In my view, people in general have the tendency to like processes. They see processes as self-organizing tools. Especially when it comes to business and organizational usage, there is a strong belief that process implementation can solve most of your problems. Is this really true? Yes, probably. But, in my view there is a“catch22” situation with process implementation nowadays. To prepare an implementation processes takes time. As our life becomes more and more dynamic, people and businesses need to react to what is going on outside and inside of an organization.

So, how we can identify a problem? I see many PLM processes that belong to the area of knowledge workers and represent tasks and tacit activities among people, along with, sometimes, an unpredictable slew of events. In addition, a workload can change its priority in an organization and shift people to work from one area to another. Such situations are normally killers for the traditional approach in process management. In many cases, this requires the involvement of administrators on different levels to resolve conflicts or move tasks/processes forward.

So, what can be potential solutions for this problem? There are two approaches that in my view can be beneficial for such case:

1. Focus on People Tasks

First of all, we need to have a system that allows people to manage their tasks, but have a process management base. People need to be less involved in the “process view” and more involved in “task” oriented work. This is also a simple experience to build an easy to understand view on what is going on. People need to have the ability to delegate tasks as a natural part of their process. The last one is very important. 

2. Visualization

Don’t invent a special User Interface for a process. This is yet another UI people need to learn. It’s better to integrate these process/task-oriented tools in their natural environment. Or you can come with up with Mashup ideas on how to do this.

3. Process Rule Management

This means being able to define rules as a natural foundation for processes. Process flows need to be controlled by rules. In most of today’s process management infrastructure, this is not a problem. But we need to generalize it to the level of providing full rule-based controls on processes.

I’m sure you have ideas and issues to cover for such a vast topic. I’ll wait for your comments and thoughts.


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