Changing the Way We Work, Part 3: Sticking to Our Plan

Pat’s workflow implementation is eagerly awaited

These days, I feel like I’m on the trading floor of the NYSE. People all over the company are calling on me to ensure that their needs and requirements will be part of our workflow and process implementation. Word has gotten out —in a BIG way —that changes are coming and the sense I am getting is that no one wants to be left behind. I guess what you could say that I’m a victim of my own success. My evangelizing has clearly been successful— and the result is a lot of people frothing at the mouth to begin work with new workflow software. The only problem is, we haven’t even launched this yet.

We have done our exploratory work and are wrapping up requirements for this project. I’m not a sales person per se, but I’ve spent considerable time all over the company talking to different groups to explain what we’re going to be rolling out and how it will affect them. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. After years of paper-based communication, undocumented processes, and loose triage for decision-making, plus a host of other legacy ‘systems’ for conducting business, our employees appear eager to let those things be handled for them, enabling them to focus on business goals(rather than photocopying documents and waiting for approvals that may never come.)

The things I’ve explained resonate with the people here because, while we may be a bit outdated with some our business practices, our intentions have never changed —our goal has always been to deliver great results for our customers by conducting business with integrity, intelligence, and a passion for doing the right things. It is with great interest that colleagues are watching the progression of this project. They see advantages that will come from a comprehensive workflow solution, and they know that rolling it out in a judicious and measured way will help them be more successful in their roles. And I have promised that we should experience vast changes that include:

1. Project modeling and implementation: Employees who are project owners will be able to list the activities associated with their projects, estimate their durations, then drag-and-drop information onto those activities that must completed before subsequent activities can begin. They will essentially become their own project managers and process owners. This is significant because it represents flexibility they haven’t had before — plus the ability to centralize (but adapt), and to decentralize (when appropriate) process creation, management and change at the departmental and team level.

2. Parallel processes: As many activities as possible will run concurrently, without the need to explicitly specify parallel behavior. Things move fast around here —so this kind of thing will encourage a more integrated approach to decision making.

3. Status and updates: Process status can be determined at a glance. At any point — even the moment the process is launched — the system can determine which activities, if any, may not complete by their due date.

4. Analytics: The system we implement will record and estimate execution times each time a process is run, and create estimates accordingly. Insight and transparency can help eliminate any issues that we (or the system, actually) uncover.

Clearly, when all this was explained, it led to some big expectations — and I’m starting to feel the heat to roll out sooner, rather than later. Add to that some confusion, or mis-information, about what we’re actually doing. Our project is not just about launching a “thing”. Yes, it’s workflow and process automation for sure, and it’s a solution that probably could even be called a “platform”. But it’s also a mindset and a methodology on which just about every activity our people perform will be supported. This is critical — because workflow doesn’t really exist as an app; rather, it IS the human instance of the app— and that sometimes needs to be experienced rather than explained.

I’m also spending time reminding eager execs that much of the success of our project will be in the flexibility it offers. That flexibility kind of exists now— I mean, anyone can do pretty much whatever they want to achieve a desired outcome. Having workflow, however, will give us a structure and framework with triggers, actions, steps, decisions etc. that can be managed, analyzed and updated. Repeatability will occur when desirable, but so too will change (and the accompanying change management as well.)

Things are heating up and while it’s creating stress for my team, it also means engagement and buy-in. These are things we can’t provide with requirements and guidelines alone. Anticipation comes from the pairing our goals with our expected solution. While exhausting and exciting, this is where we need to be! Beyond just the challenge of delivering according to schedule and expectation is the need to continually add to the foundation of what we’re trying to accomplish. As we keep telling our colleagues this won’t be a one-time delivery. It will be a fundamental shift in how our business performs and the way we operate long-term.

Learn more about Process Pat’s quest to improve his company’s business operations:

  • Preparing to Move Forward: With approval to proceed with his project and approach, Process Pat prepares for the upcoming changes
  • The Task Before Us: As Process Pat and his team prepare to implement BPM and workflow, he gives serious thought to how his team will move their project forward

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