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Exciting not Best Practices

mrosemann's picture
by Michael Rosemann in ARIS BPM Blog posted on 2008-09-22

"Best practices" has become an over-utilised label for a variety of so-called reference models. However, a closer look shows that most of these models document rather typical than highly innovative scenarios. It is time to re-consider the typical design of reference models and while compromising completeness to aim for truly "exciting practices".

<!--more-->It seems that right now we experience a second wave of interest in reference models. In particular, models such as SCOR, eTOM, ITIL or ACORD (insurance) have received significant attention and are a regular common reference (sic!) point within the related industries.

Reference process models have a number of much appreciated advantages. For example, they accelerate the modelling process by explicitly listing a set of relevant processes, they provide a common ground within mergers (e.g. SCOR as part of the HP/Compaq fusion) and these models are indeed a source of inspiration for organisations with poorly designed processes.

Nevertheless, most of these reference models have two severe shortcomings. They capture the typical processes of an industry without articulating truly innovative solutions. Consequently, the lightly used term best practice is misleading and better practices or even common practices would be a much more appropriate term. Second, due to their size they take a long time to develop.

In addition to these rather comprehensive reference models, a further type of much smaller reference models is required that captures highly contemporary reference models that help to disseminate emerging solutions. These could be processes enabled by innovative technologies (e.g. RFID-supported clinical pathways, Web 2.0-based customer interaction in the retail sector or GPS-enabled usage-based pricing in an insurance company). Moreover, these could be process models that deal with current legislative requirements (e.g. Basel II in the financial sector, latest security requirements at airports etc.). Such models would, unlike classical reference models, just capture very selective "pockets of excitement". Exciting practice models would have a short time to market, not aim for completeness and have a potentially high impact on organisations.

It is easy to image a marketplace that consolidates such smaller but very much exciting reference models in a similar way like service brokers (e.g. Strikeiron) provide access to (Web) services. This marketplace would bring sellers and buyers of these models together and could look in parts like eBay when in fact it would be a marketplace for ideas. In any case, it would open a very different way of thinking about and ultimately building reference models.

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Vassiliki Spentzou posted on 2009-05-29

I totally agree with you for the wrong impression created around reference models such as eTOM,SCOR etc that only provide insight to the common practices!

Have you got in mind any small but exciting reference models for the telco industry?

Thank you in advance!

Site Administrator posted on 2008-10-20


Sandeep J said:

I can see the value of having smaller more ‘exciting’ models in the marketplace. I believe the biggest advantage for an organisation to attain product/service differentiation would be the ability to ‘mix’ and ‘match’ the smaller pieces that could then produce a trully unique overall model. Since innovation continues to occur, there should be provision made for re-configuring what has now become the company’s reference model. There is immense potential for BPM professionals in being involved in building and configuring the process so that it is fit for purpose.

The flip side of the coin would be because of legislative requirements or standardisation, organisations would still be required to adhere to some form of consistency across their industry. However, as we have seen in the recent global financial crises, legislation can also be dynamic.


Site Administrator posted on 2008-10-30


Thierry Caro said:

Nice view on the subject. Large process reference models such as CMMI, ISO:9000, SoX, SAS70, ITIL also have the great advantage to enable certification and maturity audits and provide with immense benefits in terms of terminology and definitions.

The idea of a collection of small & dedicated processes is a reality within the companies moving into SOA, with the ability to re-shuffle the sub-processes execution to produce different products and services.
Regarding process sharing, we barely never see any commercial organization sharing processes for public use, unless there is an intention to sell something. Processes represent an essential differentiator in the competitive market.