Many pundits push the notion that a lot of business processes are ad hoc and that you can’t manage ad hoc processes within BPM software.
I disagree – I have worked with BPM software that allowed me to document and manage ad hoc processes. Our process engineer had been configuring processes for years. Over those years, he had learned how to look at processes in other ways. At a minimum, we would put in rules that allowed a person to add an activity and/or a person within a process step.
BPM software runs on logic. I may know what the early steps are, but not later steps. I can map that logic and when I get to the later steps, I can allow the user to add a person or add an activity or add a step or even launch an existing process.
If I know what options are available to the user, I could even provide a pick list. If I don’t know, then descriptions/labels can be created on the fly. Management may not be able to determine where something is going within a process, but it will be documented and they will know who is currently working on it. It may even become less ad hoc over time.
Ad Hoc BPM control and visibility
The more ad hoc your process is, the less control you have over it. Still, you are recording what is happening. I have seen some very clever solutions to the ad hoc problem.
The software will provide visibility as to where the process has been, but it may be difficult to see what’s next. I think that you will find that even ad hoc processes are more predictable than you think.
When companies are doing well, they don’t believe they need to work on process improvement. In a slow economy, companies don’t want to spend the money. However, while you are procrastinating your competitors are working at becoming more efficient. So why are you waiting?
That is just my opinion and I could be wrong.