Origins Of Flexible Process Management

Written by Ian James, Aug 11, 2013

Flexible Process Management - tailored business process solutions improve team communication, save time and facilitate prioritization.

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How Flexible Process Management got started

In case you couldn’t tell from the title of this website, I am a process consultant. Mostly clients  come to me because they recognize that they have a problem and see process as the solution. Overwhelmingly, they come with specific issues about documentation or process improvement. Either one is a good place to start, but it’s not the only one. Quite often when I am working with the client, I discover that there are lots of unstructured processes. Now, some of these are not that important, but a lot of them produce very creative and high value-add work. And this is the sort of thing that documentation and classic process improvement won’t help with.

Over time I came to realize that I needed to offer something specific for this particular area of process. It is largely ignored by most of the BPM industry. It took a while but  what evolved form a lot of work with many many clients is Flexible Process Management (FPM). It is designed to help small workgroups or executive teams to coordinate their work more effectively with their unstructured processes.

Easy to implement

An FPM engagement is much more, well, unstructured. That’s mainly because FPM is tailored to the working culture in the clients organization. It cannot a boilerplate solution. There are just too many variables and that is a reflection of the fact that different organizations work in different ways.  So I end up helping the client shape something that is customized to the way they work.

Despite that, the good news is that is simple to put into practice. It does not take months of analysis. Nor does it cost a lot before it delivers results. It is about a group of people who work together agreeing to make small changes to they way they interact:

How we make requests of one another
How we let someone know when a task needs their attention
When it is OK to decline or transfer a task and what to do then
How to deal with errors and to learn from them
How to manage priorities for the benefit of the work-group
What it is OK to expect people to do and not to do
How to negotiate deadlines
Making sure we pass on all the information required

What does FPM do?

In an FPM engagement we look at five areas.

  1. Reducing wasted time in work queues

  2. Defining roles and expertise within an organization

  3. Improving communication at the moment of hand-off

  4. Prioritizing the order of tasks by the need of the organization not the individual

  5. Building learning into everyday work

Why it works

FPM is a roadmap not a railroad. The philosophy of Business Process Management (BPM) is to try to control activities. BPM lays down a sort of fixed rail to follow. There are no choices to make and limited flexibility. You can only go where the tracks take you. And that is fine for routine work.

FPM has a different approach. It gives you a roadmap and you are free to choose your own route. This is exactly how people need to work when they are doing something new or dealing with the unexpected. To be creative and productive you need freedom, not constraint. I find that this is a much better way to handle unstructured processes.

What it delivers

FPM makes the day-to-day interactions between team members run more smoothly. People get stuff done faster. Together, people set priorities for the benefit of the team as a whole. Fewer things fall through the cracks. And the best part is that you can achieve this without a big risky IT project. And at very low cost

Want to know more?

Here is the sales pitch.

Or start with a conversation with me about how FPM might work for you.

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