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Give Workers What They Need To Work

Study Shows Data Trumps Process When Designing Enterprise Applications

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By: Roger Hughlett

April 3, 2014 | Case Management/BPMAnalysts

One of the key findings from a new commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of MicroPact centers on workplace productivity. According to the study, application development decision-makers believe a “data-first” approach – when “supported with dynamic and adaptive knowledge worker capabilities” – is needed if enterprises are going to keep pace with the ever-increasing amount of unstructured work conducted on a daily basis.

The study, appropriately titled “Is Process Mapping a Barrier to Innovation?” (Download it here), confirmed what many of us already knew: Work is less structured today than it was in the past. And because more of what enterprises do is unstructured, taking the traditional process-mapping approach to developing applications may not always be the best path to take.

Process vs. Data

Instead of designing software applications around the processes, enterprises are discovering it’s more advantageous to build the solutions around data – the all-important information that has always been at the center of most business operations. If an enterprise needs an application to manage the onboarding of employees, isn’t all the information about those individuals the primary objective? Why would you build a system that discounts the vital nature of the data?

This applies to so many other areas within all sorts of enterprises. An application created to track and process insurance claims needs to be designed around the data that is being collected and acted upon. The same goes for an application created to manage store inventory of a nationwide retailer. The list goes on and on and hits on every single industry I can think of.

People Power

Going back to the Forrester study, while enterprises recognized the role a data-centric approach can play in improving productivity, nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said their current systems for developing applications are not doing the best job.

Businesses today, more and more, leverage unique employee expertise and use more skilled workers to accomplish a greater variety of tasks with relatively fewer resources. Work has become less structured.

- Is Process Mapping a Barrier to Innovation? Forrester Consulting, February 2014

According to the study, 67 percent of respondents say “current approach and systems do not adequately extract the context of the work item (or related document) and use that information to model and to guide work, support better process decisions, routing, and rule invocation.”

With so much work being less structured, the amount of performance pressure placed on all types of workers continues to build. The people charged with completing these unstructured tasks are on the front lines of many operations. They are dealing with customers, patients, partners and constituents on a daily basis.

It is clear, based on the Forrester study and a growing consensus among workplace experts, that technology will continue to play a major role in improved productivity with the enterprise.

The key now is to make sure your software applications – from your HR system to your customer support system – are designed around the data and for the people.

To take a deeper dive into the Forrester study, download “Is Process-Mapping a Barrier to Innovation?

About the Author

Roger Hughlett was a member of the Marketing Team with MicroPact from 2013 - 2015.