Process Management Cursed by Functional Approaches

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    The curse of Process Management is that we are still stuck in the last century’s (1950’s to be precise) Management Thinking and Software that implements it for the most part!


    If you look at how Functional Management evolved, it is accredited mostly to the work of Robert McNamara, and assorted others who were known as WhizKids in the early 40’s Ford. They organized a previously highly disorganized Ford Motor Company in to some semblance of organized management. Robert Mcnamara in an interview at UC Berkeley, his alma mater, said that they were the first college graduates in the management ranks at Ford at that time!


    They organized the jobs of people into Finance, Manufacturing, Sales, Human Resources etc. The birth of Functional Management!


    That was the good news for that time during the last century.  It introduced some order into an otherwise chaotic unorganized way of managing companies.


    Then, along come computers and business computing. You then have Computer Software that parallel functional management – you have Financial Accounting and Management Software, Manufacturing Software, Sales and Marketing Software, etc. These concentrated on automating functional acitivities. 


    Fast forward to this century. The same brilliant thinking that brought us Functional Management and Functional Management software is now a curse. Information is locked in functional silos while we are trying desperately to implement Process Management across these often incompatibe, often from different software product companies, Software products using Process Management, Workflow Software or with enabling applications and products to talk to other systems with Service Oriented Architectures (SOA).


    This is also the age of the Global Network called the Internet, where every person and every company signed up without a lot of arguments over the technical protocols used (TCP/IP).


    The customer orders something on your web store, they really do not care about your sales department or finance department or warehouses or third party shippers. To them there are only processes involved – Ordering Process, GoodsReceipt Process, CustomerSupport Process, GoodsReturnsProcess.


    To the company, again processes are becoming more important than functions. If you order a telephone landline, they know that they need to pay more attention to the landline activation process than the Customer Service Department that takes phone calls or the Billing Department or the provisioning department. Many telecom companies have "service expediters" for key accounts to shepherd processes on behalf of customers through their own functional silos! Some even charge an "expediting fee" if you order a complex service like a T1 line!


    That seems to the current sad state of Process Management and how they are affected by Functional Management thinking and software that automated ideas from the last century!


    Something to really think hard about! As business gets more global, faster and tries to be cheaper, it is only going to get worse. And vestiges from the last century are not going to help too much!


    Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.  – Peter Drucker

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