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Cross-departmental BPM solution vs. Organizational silos

12.29.2013
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We had this problem when we were preparing the documentation: different people on our team were preparing some parts of material and it was absolutely impossible to come to the office in the morning and find out if there were already some papers prepared and if you could use them for your work. Emails didn’t help much because there were times when somebody forgot to notify you about a newly created document and you could only find out about its very existence from a 3rd party only when it’s already too late: you had done all the research yourself and created your own paper.

This is a minor example of information silo inside one department, even one team. It can be worse, to a greater extent, inside an enterprise where each department represents an operational silo. In addition, it can lead to a much greater problem and loss in all aspect of the business. The problem can be cured with business process management solutions, yet cost and time to enter such solutions can be counted in months and even, sometimes years. One of the possible really quick ways to get away from cross-departmental operational and informational silo lies in easy BPM.

A silo’ed department’s capacity is up to 60% less efficient

Organizational Silo is a management system incapable of reciprocal operation with other systems, or, in other words, a department that cannot timely and accurately share necessary data with other departments or managers is considered a silo. The negative impact of this kind of situation results in competitive constraints and lack of innovative growth of the company. It’s a walled garden for daily operations which can be particularly dangerous in times of stress.

So called “Tacit interactions”, which is lead through email, influence a great deal in worsening this situation, as they do not actually contribute to the following aspects, which are crucial for eliminating organizational silo:


  • collaboration
  • knowledge sharing
  • quick and appropriate decision making

Some experts consider that some kind of content management system or workflow automation could help eliminate the situation when all of your company departments become silos, or, even better – for cross-departmental issues, business process management solutions that create a single work database for a company.

Bringing changes into the existing BPM costs up to 25% of the initial implementation cost

When, after consulting experts, you set up a BPM solution, for some time you can really feel the relief from the silo problem. Yet in some time you’re going to face the problem of re-building a business process. That’s where most companies find themselves in another situation that can be described as a not very pleasant one. With time, processes change and are improved, so the system needs to reflect this. Here the situation resembles when you buy a printer and then discover that when you need to replace the empty cartridge you have to pay almost half the price of the machine itself. Something similar to this happens with some BPM solutions: when you only need to add or remove a step in a process, you basically are constrained to re-building and re-implementing the given process due to the hardcoded nature of the solution itself. Yes, the silo problem has been overcome. No, the budget hasn’t been saved and you face another problem instead: either you invest over and over in your system or – you have to deal with outdated processes. So when choosing a business process management solution to solve the silo problem, you should look towards easier BPM solutions that allow improving automated processes without rebuilding them.

Adaptive BPM: quicker change means more profit

Collaboration and reuse of applications and data in the form of services used for cross-departmental processes improves agility and lowers cost, so this fact cannot be denied.
The benefits of the system are:

  • Quicker time to value
  • Quicker time to respond
  • Quicker time to innovate

At the same time, if processes are set in stone, once and forever, this will not push you much further away from the silo impasse. Easy BPM solutions were created specifically to address this problem. Their main difference from traditional BPM solutions is that changes can be brought to the processes on the fly that does not only provide a vital solution for the silo problem, but also brings benefits for the company with constant improvement at the least possible cost. If comparing this to the situation with printers, it would be as if you bought a printer that has cartridges refilled with water which cost literally nothing. If such printers don’t exist, easy BPM solutions have become reality some time ago and one of the award-winning companies, Comindware, provides Comindware Tracker which supports cross-departmental process management and easy process modification on the fly.


P.S.

I should tell you, the silo phantom still haunts us from time to time, but not to that extent, as it used to be. We have still got people who can’t share all the necessary docs even though they are willing to help you – I believe – but they are probably somehow incapable of gathering all the data related to the topic together, unless this topic is their pictures from their last vacation in Asia.

Even a top-notch easy BPM solution cannot fix people who don’t want to work. Nevertheless, with this system it’s much easier to detect such weak points and do something with it. First of all, to give them some work and to be able to see the results in real time: they are probably not working because they are not sure they will be noticed, who knows? It’s up to you to check it. From now on adaptive BPM is at your service to help you solve most problems related to poor visibility.

Published at DZone with permission of its author, Comindware Inc..

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