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Friday, January 15, 2010

Enterprise Org. Anti-pattern - You shoudl follow the process

Imagine you need to do something and you want to have it done quickly. Imagine then, that for whatever reason, the time needed to solve your issues is too long. Then you try to understand what is not working and why. Most of the time, you will hear people saying - You have to follow the process!

Let me give you an example. Expense management in my company is done bu each employee through an web based tool. When your expenses are submitted for approval and payment, then you ahve the opportunity to print it out. This printed document should be sent to the accounting department with original expenses proofs (restaurant bills, air tickets, etc.). The accounting team managing expenses are located in Brussels and I'm located in Paris. So I have to put each expense request in one envelope with the unique number referencing the request (given to me by the web based app.) and to put this envelope in one specific place in one room, so that somebody can retrieve it and will carry it to Brussels. Some time ago, I changed my office location (other building) and I was not aware of the new place to put the envelope. So I put it in the standard mail departure place. After 4 months, I received an email from the accounting dept. asking me why I did not send the original documents to Brussels. But in the meantime, the expenses were paid ...And the nightmare began ...
1/ When I send my expenses nobody knows in Brussels that I sent them. Of course, when they recieved it, I'm not informed.
2/ The mailing service did not track which expense was sent or not (so why putting the number on the enveloppe?)
3/ Some expense are done using my corporate credit card. So why do I need to prove again the expense, since data from my credit card are automatically loaded from the bank to the expense system?
4/ Why paying expenses if the accounting do not have the documents needed to prove all expenses (at least in case of control from Audit dept and to comply to finance regulations)?

So this is where we can draw the anti-pattern. It is not because some people designed a process that this process work effectively. In general those processes where not thought to ease people using it. They were created to ease the work of the people that designed it. Most of the time, the process is not improved across the time for one reason, no feedback is never ever asked to the process users. Did you often receive emails saying "eh how are you, what do you think about the process we put in place for you? Are you happy? Can we improve it?". Well, in my company, never!

Even worse, when you complain, you became the bad guy and resistance is then futile. You have to face sometimes a full team of people that will never make any excuse, that will try to prove that the fault is on your side and that their process is great.

For each anti pattern we need to build a refactoring pattern, here, it is quite simple - Assess your process and require feedback. Especially if you design it for others. Do not forget who is serving who ... And who is supposed to facilitate the work of who!

Bureaucraty ...