Managing Unstructured Processes
Managing unstructured processes
Enabling the monitoring and tracking of unstructured processes through e-mail messages and documents also provides a complete system of record for execution-an invaluable asset if problems arise and an audit trail is needed.
For example, let's assume you have a customer overseas and you need to verify that a large order can be shipped to that particular country. The sales manager in charge may have received an e-mail message from the controller notifying him of this requirement (that is, checking with export controls). However, given the nature of e-mail message, there is no way for the controller to know that the manager actually took the appropriate action; it may have fallen through the cracks or gotten lost in the flood of e-mail messages received by the sales manager.
Until your business has visibility into these unstructured activities, you are not managing the bulk of the work in your organization. If these processes should be tracked for compliance reasons, then this lack of visibility poses significant risk. Consider your regulatory and compliance processes-people-intensive tasks that begin as a result of an external regulation.
Think of how many e-mail messages and documents are generated by these processes. Does your business really know how compliance procedures are executed or where each of the currently running compliance processes stand? These changes occur on a case-by-case basis, and people tend to rely on documents and e-mail to deal with them. However, since these actions entail some type of penalty if not completed on time, IT must provide the ability to manage, track and monitor these ad hoc actions. Given the way most people work and the current infrastructure in most companies, the best way to do this is by enhancing e-mail and documents with adaptive case management.
It makes sense that IT first tackled the less complicated problem of handling rote actions that occur in the same manner over and over again. Business process management and similar products have ably automated oversight of those predictable tasks. Now, technology has advanced enough to handle the significantly more complex matter of action tracking changeable work. Adaptive case management makes it possible to monitor ad hoc processes from start to finish, in a manner that eliminates risk and increases visibility. Given the importance of these tasks to organizations in virtually every industry, the cost of not managing them is too great to consider.
Jacob Ukelson is Chief Technology Officer at ActionBase. Jacob has a proven track record in discovering and developing innovative solutions to real-world customer problems and then developing them into products. Jacob is published in many technical journals and has spoken at conferences worldwide. In 1997, he received the Alexander C. Williams Ergonomics and Human Factors Award from the Human Factors Society. He can be reached at email@example.com.