Standardization vs. Flexibility in Process Management


To begin with let's think about the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about processes. If your initial idea revolved around standardization or something even more complicated with a rigid, unyielding structure...well, you're not alone!

To begin with let’s think about the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about processes. If your initial idea revolved around business process standardization or something even more complicated with a rigid, unyielding structure…well, you’re not alone!

Most people make this direct correlation between standardization, processes and complication faster than they draw a breath and, if you start to really think about traditional business process management, you’ll see where they come from.

What is Process Mapping?

Let’s consider the idea of process mapping according to BPMN – if you have ever tried designing a workflow using flowcharts and the BPMN methodology you may have felt just like our CEO, Alessio Alionço, described in this brilliant article:

It’s too complex for most members of any operational team. Asking an average “normal” person to draw a process using a flowchart or BPMN notation is the same as asking someone who’s not an architect to create a house project on Autocad or asking a 10 year old to drive your car down the street.

He complements by saying that this method is a crime against process management and, even though he’s got nothing against the methodology, he’s got to know first hand that “it’s one of the main reasons people hate process management”.

BPMN and flowcharts are the first thing that come to mind when thinking about process mapping and execution standards but, after a little over a year working with a very different methodology I can safely say: not only is it not the best way to manage your processes, it’s actually way too ‘stiff’ for most businesses.

Most people managing their processes through these methods and/or traditional, bulkier process management softwares actually complain about their processes involving too much bureaucracy and being way too inflexible. Every time they need to make small changes to the process, they can’t do it themselves, depending on the system administrator or the IT guy to help them out.

This situation kind of defeats the purpose of giving managers the power to manage their own processes – if they can’t even change a step of the process by themselves, how can they be in charge of actually managing the entire process?

See also: Flowchart Symbols & Meanings

Can my process have standards while keeping its flexibility?

It’s not uncommon to find experts stating that standardization is key for workflow management. While they’re quite right to say that reducing variability increases the chances of consistent results, they make the mistake of leaving the need for flexibility out of the mix.

Yes, you need standards so that people know what to do and what’s the end result expected of them. However, it’s also essential to have flexibility – situations change, people find better ways to do this or that. For these reasons, and many others, knowing how to mix standardization and flexibility is key for successful process management.

How can you manage your processes that way, you’re asking yourself, being able to make whatever changes you need to the standards on the go, without depending on anyone else? Using Pipefy, of course!

Pipefy offers a different approach to process management – it’s highly focused on empowering managers to build and customize their processes themselves, without depending on BPM consultants or IT professionals.

Its intuitive, easy to use interface allows you to create your own processes – and make changes on the go, whenever it’s necessary.

You can start off with one of the many pre-designed process templates available on our template store or start your very own process from scratch – either way, Pipefy’s interface makes it easy for you to create as many phases as you wish for your processes, with specific fields to give instructions and ask for the exact information you need each step of the way.

Managing your processes was once about rigid structures written on a piece of paper to be left at the bottom of a drawer. It’s not anymore, though. Try Pipefy and be amazed at how easy it can be to manage all your company’s processes in a single place.

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