Traditionally, the worlds of project management and process management have focused on different areas. Managers who use project planning techniques are strong on forecasting and monitoring the allocation of people to tasks and the resulting costs. Managers who prefer process-oriented techniques are strong on improving the way in which work is carried out, for example via techniques such as Lean Six Sigma. The project planning approach works well for one-off situations and the process improvement approach works well for work that repeats in much the same way. But what about work that doesn’t fit neatly into either category?
Much human collaborative work not only repeated (i.e., a candidate for improvement) but also highly adaptive - so flexibility on the ground is critical for success. To deal with both concerns, you need a combination of the forecasting/monitoring supplied by project management tools with the structured approach supplied by workflow tools.
This may appear to be close to the domain of Dynamic Case Management (DCM). However, cases do not have the same kind of formal structure as workflows, so it is hard to improve them. Their operation can be tightened up using business rules, but this is not the same thing as finding new and better ways to execute the work. The DCM approach is fine for the sort of low-level work in which it is safe to let the operator make their own judgements about how to do it (simple problem resolution, licensing, medical diagnosis, mortgage processing, invoice discrepancy handling, equipment maintenance, insurance claim processing, and so on). However, DCM is unsuitable for the sort of high-level, business-critical, and often very expensive work that typically crosses boundaries (complex problem resolution, research & development, marketing, complex sales, services delivery, merger & acquisition, organizational change, and so on). This latter kind of work needs careful management, for which managers need to see its structure in a helpful way, and tools that empower people from different organizations to collaborate naturally.
In particular, this means providing a combination of the resource and cost planning/monitoring features found in project management tools with the simple, clear depiction of underlying structure found in workflow tools - although with human collaborative work, you need a different kind of structure. Assigning tasks in sequence and describing their outputs is not enough.
In the next posts I’ll look at how HIM makes repeated, adaptive human work visible, thereby empowering people to improve it via the 5 principles. In the meantime, if you would like to try HumanEdj, visit http://rolemodellers.com/get_started to register for an account on the demo Web instance.