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As we've mentioned many times in this series, business processes today need to be more about enabling people to do what they do better rather than locking people into a set way of doing their jobs. To be sure, there are limits to this thinking: you do not want assemble line workers reinventing how they put together a car. Nor do you want ER personnel dismissing heart attack protocol to try something new just to see if it works.
But for the large number of information workers that have entered the workforce and do not know a time before the Internet, the old, structured ways of hard-wiring business logic into a precise set of steps to follow is no longer functional, feasible, or desirable. The world is moving too fast today for these types of processes to keep up. Today's business processes need to function more like GPS than a set of train tracks.
At the heart of the old way of processes automation is this notion that, like a train, your employees run along a set of tracks, stopping at particular points to perform certain functions. There is a predictability that permeates the process from one end to the other. With the GPS approach, it's more about guidance. You still get you the same level of control and productivity, but what the GPS approach offers that the train tracks don't is the ability to move to the left or right of the processes as needed. It gives your employees the flexibility they need to handle fast-moving business environments. In short, it provides your business with agility.
With so many internal and external forces and events changing entire processes overnight, the need for ad hoc decision making is greater than ever. The whole mindset of "We're doing things this way because that’s the way it has been done before" just doesn't work anymore. We are seeing a new generation of an enterprising workforce; employees motivated to find solutions at a moment’s notice. Employees today are more likely to ask “Is there an app for that?” Being able to capitalize on this movement, enabling your workforce to flexibly work within a process to reach desired outcomes is crucial to the success of not only the process, but your business itself.
A great example of an agile process is sales. In sales there are defined steps that lead to predictable outcomes: so many calls equal so many new clients and so on. But when you have a sales rep that succeeds by stepping outside of the process, you want to be able to capture that deviation so others can learn and profit from that example. The only way to put those methods into practice, however, is if the sales process itself is flexible enough to accommodate and incorporate change.
That's why the most successful businesses today are always open to trying something new. If it works, great. If not, moving on to the next idea and trying again is a very well-understood and supported ideal. If you want this type of iteration in your organization, your business processes, the nervous system of your business, have to be wired to support it.
To learn more about the future of business apps, read the white paper: “Business transformation doesn't need to be a long drawn out process”