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ProcessDoctor's blog

Does introduction of computers automatically lead to better quality?

Do computers improve quality and efficiency of administration? Not always so. This is what Volvo Cars discovered when analyzing the use of email in the corporation. The analysis resulted in a corporate-extensive program to train the staff how to properly use email under the leadership of Petter Halling and Bart Verplanken. This program resulted in less stress and more efficiency of the staff, etc., see http://www.nyteknik.se/nyheter/karriarartiklar/article78075.ece (in Swedish). Now, Volvo employees can spend time for building cars instead of administering their mail-boxes. May be this is not of the greatest importance in the time of the financial crises when nobody buys cars anyway. However, being an optimist, I do believe that the time will come when this can be of great importance.

Anyway, why Volvo Cars has got itself into the situation when they need to run an extensive email-training program in the first place?

What is quality of administration?

Tried to understand what administrative quality is. The same as with administration, found nothing on the Internet. Below is what I think about administrative quality.

Evaluating administrative quality

As the ultimate goal of administration is ensuring smooth running of the organization’s processes, the quality of administration should be measured by how smooth the processes actually run. Smooth run means with steady pace and without unnecessary delays and stops. When evaluating the smoothness, the following type of criteria should be used:

  • The length of the time gaps between “do-it in the real world” activities that cannot be attributed to external factors. The smaller are the gaps the better is the administrative quality.
  • Chances that a process stops running and becomes forgotten. The lesser are chances the better is administrative quality.

The first criterion above implies that administrative quality requires efficiency. The time consumed by administrative activities should be kept to the minimum, otherwise the gaps between do-it in the real world activities may become too lengthy:

Roughly speaking, the administrative quality can be evaluated based on three parameters:

What is administration?

Got a question on what administration is. Tried to google, found no comprehensible answer. As usual, when you need a definition, there is none to find. Did it myself. Here is the result.

Administration in the nutshell
The key to understanding of what administration means lies in the following picture:

Fig. 1: Functioning of organization from the process perspective

It represents functioning of an organization as “People running processes based on rules using tools

A process (aka business process) is a set of activities (operations, tasks) aimed at creating a desirable outcome. Typical examples of processes are sales (convincing a potential customer to buy one of our product/services), service delivery (e.g., fixing a customer problem), purchasing (choosing, buying and paying for things we need), product development, etc.

Fig. 2: Processes connect people

What are relationships between SOA and BPM, if any?

The question taken from the discussion on http://cio.ittoolbox.com/groups/strategy-planning/bpm-sp/

To answer this question we need to better understand both concepts, SOA and BPM.

SOA stays for Service Oriented Architecture, and depending on context, it is used in at least two different meanings. In the fist and most spread usage, SOA stays for a "network" computer system architecture in which the components of a system interact with each other by "requesting" services incorporated in them. Let us denote this meaning by SOA1. The idea is not new, such an architecture was provided by Tuxedo operational environment under UNIX already in 70ths of the last century. This architecture got special attention in the WWW era, as it allowed creating geographically and organizationally spread computer systems.

SOA1 = system architecture aimed at providing a proper structure for an IT-system

In its second usage, SOA stays for a "network" business architecture, where companies cooperate by providing specialized services to each other like "payment through credit cards". Let us call this meaning SOA2. As such, the idea is not new, for example, buying logistic, and accounting services was quite spread even before WWW era.

What is the difference between BPO and BPM?

This is a question the Process doctor got from “hasc” through “Ask Process doctor”.

Before answering this question, we need to clarify what BPM (Business Process Management) stays for. Initially, BPM meant a management process the goal of which was to maintain and improve other Business Processes (BP) in an organization. In this, narrow, meaning BPM refers to the cycle: BP identification and mapping (“as is description”) -> BP reengineering/improvement (BPR) -> introduction of reengineered processes in practice -> measuring effects achieved through reengineering/improvement. In the last years, however, term BPM started to be used in a more general sense, namely, as a label for the whole business domain related to business processes.

There is a clear difference between BPM in the narrow sense, and Business Process Orientation (BPO). BPM refers to a management process, while BPO refers to the “state of the mind” of an organization, or more exactly its employees. Actually, it is possible to measure how much a particular organization is process oriented, and this can be done for both BPO as a way of thinking, and BPO as a way of working (see the previous post).