My observation is that business people seldom know what they’re supposed to do. They think they are doing what they’re supposed to do and they are experts on what they do. Being experts gives them comfort and meaning. The extra work they have added to the essential process gives them a sense of job security whether they do the actual work or manage the people who do. Any threat of changing what they do will rob them of that comfort and security.

The most productive thing an Enterprise Architect or other business process improvement facilitator can do when working with line-of-business people is to let them describe and defend their current process. They want to tell you how expert they are. The facilitator is there to facilitate the extraction of information, not to impose a solution. The information provided by the business “experts” will serve to map the current state of the process and will also provide important information about the problems that prevented them from attaining an ideal process state in the first place.

Formulation of a future state based on what we’re supposed to do starts as a backroom exercise using the essential requirements gathered at the enterprise level and the business rules dictated by them. Arriving at the appropriate future state will be an iterative process but it is essential that the first iteration be as bare-bones as possible.

The future state model is refined using “gap” analysis. Most people think the product of gap analysis is to create things that fill in the gaps between the current and future states. That works fine if the future state is “bigger” than the current. However, you must eliminate gaps when the future state is “smaller” than the current. The information provided by the business “experts” is used to determine whether an extra process is extraneous or more essential than first believed. Once you have filled/eliminated all of the gaps, it’s time to review the new process with senior line management. This may also be iterative but you must keep iterations to a minimum. Line management must be aware and buy into all changes before they are reviewed by the “experts”. You will need the managers to help persuade the experts that life will continue after the process they love so dearly changes.

The final set of iterations involves the business “experts”. This will be a highly charged set of sessions because the stakes are high for people who derive their worth from processes you think can be eliminated. If you have done your work correctly, it will be evident that unnecessary activities can really be eliminated.

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