Research on business collaboration from IBM

James Robertson pointed to this last month. It is one of several excellent articles in an issue of the IBM Systems Journal on the topic of business collaboration. While the writing is a tad dry, the thinking and the research is nicely grounded in some real data for a change.

Beyond predictable workflows: enhancing productivity in artful business processes

C. Hill, R. Yates, C. Jones, and S. L. Kogan have written a journal article on managing ‘artful’ processes. To quote:

Aside from the issues of scale, lock-in, and dependency, certain types of work simply cannot be formalized well enough to safely entrust to an enterprise application. The goals and methods of some processes change too quickly over time; for example, the process of designing high-technology products. In some processes, it is primarily the content in each process instance — rather than the process itself — that determines the outcome; for example, a request for proposal (RFP) process. Most important, many highly specialized processes are developed or refined locally at the individual or small-team level such that the process cannot easily be separated from the specific people who perform it; for example, managing client relationships in professional services firms. While the framing process may be stable at an abstract level, the key details are not. They depend on the skills, experience, and judgment of the primary actors. We denote these kinds of processes artful in the sense that there is an art to their execution that would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to codify in an enterprise application.

[Thanks to Martin White.]