Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Battle between Products and Processes

Ever since I read the book Business Process Re-engineering and many other interesting articles on business processes, way back in college, I've been a strong believer in the concept of tweaking products to meet business process needs rather than tweaking processes to meet the product design and requirements. I've passionately argued against deploying products without a thought for existing organizational processes and sometimes even flicked a few specks of dust from my sleeves during these arguments ;-). So far so good, Nimmy. But a recent experience makes me re-look at my beliefs.

It's not been hard for me to understand that if you're talking about a really 'good' product (brilliant because of the minds behind it or something that has had time on its side and has evolved into a very mature version), then the organization deploying it must definitely consider studying and comparing the ways of the product with its own. If the organization has been a laggard in the innovation and improvement of its processes, it truly doesn't make sense to stick to them and say that the product must be turned upside down to meet the former's requirements.

Without rambling on aimlessly, here's what I think organizations could do to avoid this "business process ego" trap! If the fear is that of being brainwashed by the product features, why plunge into it without appropriate preparation? A few days of unbiased brainstorming, introspection and analysis of the existing set of processes and what they lack in, before considering products for deployment may do the trick! Post this exercise, When you actually look at the product and its features, you are ready to accept and admit its brilliance (if any) and are prepared to stoutly refuse to accept some of its features as not apt for the organization and the way it works.

6 comments:

Atul said...

this reminds me of a paper i had read ... this was quite some time ago ... this was talking about the concept of "Package enabled reengineering" ...

Nimmy said...

Package enabled reengineering!? I personally like the concept of BPR....sad that it did not appeal to organizations....and all because of the cultural shock and change it meant!

wake_up_then_walk said...

Processes before products??? I mean what were the reasons for the existence of these processes in the first place. Keeping Organizational Process Assets in mind while developing products/services is advisable but precedence of processes over projects in determining attributes is not what is recommended.
You believe that there is "business process ego" trap, but i'm not sure whether the malaise is more prevalent than the "most uniquest-bestest product trap".

Nimmy said...

Hey Rakesh. Something's wrong with me, I guess....I am not sure I understand your comment fully! :-( Let me try and address your comment....correct me if I happen to have got you wrong...

You said "Keeping Organizational Process Assets in mind while developing products/services is advisable but precedence of processes over projects in determining attributes is not what is recommended." - Well, my post was not really about Product Development...that ought to be another post :-). I was talking of organizations that adopt products without drawing a balance between their existing processes and those brought in by the product! It's not often that you find a product that fits perfectly into your environment...! There are both good and bad products....so I believe it is important to draw a balance...

And the second point on the "business process ego"...yeah! I agree with you....it may not be as prevalent as the "best product...so we will go with this" attitude. That's the very reason why this post has taken me so long....I've not often seen "business process ego" at play. This post was a result of one such recent experience....so the message is only for those that carry this ego! :-)))

wake_up_then_walk said...

I was talking of organizations that adopt products without drawing a balance between their existing processes and those brought in by the product! It's not often that you find a product that fits perfectly into your environment...!

I'll repeat my stand on this.

I'm ready to throw down 100 processes down the line for that ONE PRODUCT if i have the team behind me and the money to last till the initial sales report from the market.

Nimmy said...

Hmmmm....! Lots of thoughts in mind about why it could be so....! I can't help thinking about some organizations that have suffered because of the huge cultural change it calls for...! I realize how important it is to plan such an 'event'!! I think the key principle is to focus on people and take small steps...!