Architecting business process landscape

IFN515 – Fundamentals of Business Process Management

WEEK TWO: Old-fashioned industrial engineering models

The thrust of the five year old articles from the online BP Trends journal seems to be that there is no consolidated process or model for business process modeling, and the domain appears to be in the control of a bunch of old bearded engineering types who eye IT with deep suspicion.

Sharp (2010), in his two-part examination of a client business, presents some generic modelling that looks messy and not particularly generalisable (2010, February2, pp. 3-5).

Moreover, by invoking Porter, Sharp is looking at an industrial production model that may not make sense in terms of post-industrial service industry activities.

He did have some interesting observations to make (May 4, pp. 4-5):

  • Rôle descriptions, and HR departments in general, may be a useful source on who does what, and therefore what is done and who the subject matter experts might be inside an organisation;
  • Care should be exercised in describing something as a ‘core’ process to avoid the implication that ‘non-core’ processes are less important; and
  • Enabling processes are more difficult to trace and document than might seem apparent at first glance.

Harmon (2010) presented a nice overview of some modelling frameworks, making some valid points about age and applicability for the ones he mentioned, and dismissing TOGAF peremptorily as IT-focused, but failing to identify his own industrial era engineering-centric approach.

The capability maps as a starting point as proposed by Professor Alistair Barros in the QUT Enterprise Architecture unit (INN222, semester 2, 2014) seem more appropriate to this kind of work, even if EA is not accepted as quite the same as Process Architecture, or process landscaping.

A capability map uses passive language to describe organisational capabilities once only. From Barros (2014).
A capability map uses passive language to describe organisational capabilities once only. From Barros (2014).
Capability maps decompose to value streams and progressively more granular process modelling. From Barros (2014).
Capability maps decompose to value streams and progressively more granular process modelling. From Barros (2014).

The idea of looking at organisational ‘capabilities’ just makes more sense that building the insanely complex Porter value chain diagram, or some variant.

Capabilities are cross-functional (they exist once, even if practiced in different functional areas or organisational silos), and capable of decomposition to varying levels, with each decomposition supporting a value stream (as distinct from the value chain, which is an old economy, industrial/engineering model).

Value chain is the articulation of inputs, from suppliers to sales and after-sales care, that create and deliver a product to a consumer.

Value stream is the sequence of activities that deliver value to the next step in a process to design, develop, and deliver value to a customer.

The difference might be semantic, but the latter should be seen as a post-Porter concept.

It seems curious to me to reject an IT paradigm in an IT degree, though I see the logic in trying to establish that IT paradigms can be transcended, and are often not a default setting in client organisations.

Nevertheless, I see fewer weaknesses in the service oriented architecture model flowing from TOGAF than I do in models that have no common standard from which they were derived.

References

Barros, A. (2014). INN222 Enterprise Architecture. Lecture 2 and 3: Business Capability Modelling [Lecture Slides]. Retrieved from https://blackboard.qut.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-5504983-dt-content-rid-3027958_1/xid-3027958_1

Harmon, P. (2010, November 16).What is a Business Architecture? BP Trends. Retrieved from http://www.bptrends.com/bpt/wp-content/publicationfiles/advisor20101116.pdf

Sharp, A. (2010, February 2). Practitioner’s Perspective: Process Architecture on a Budget, Part 1. BP Trends, 1-10. Retrieved from http://www.bptrends.com/bpt/wp-content/publicationfiles/10-02-COL-A-Practitioner%27s-Perspective-Sharp%20V2.pdf

Sharp, A. (2010, May 4). Practitioner’s Perspective: Process Architecture on a Budget, Part 2. BP Trends, 1-6. Retrieved from http://www.bptrends.com/bpt/wp-content/publicationfiles/FOUR%20Sharp%2010-05-COL-A-Practitioner%27s-Perspective-Sharp.doc-final.pdf