BPM and knowledge workers

In our practice and research one of the areas we focus on, is Business Process Management (BPM) in knowledge intensive organization. We think that there are different approaches for BPM needed for tackling the complex issues of increasing the productivity of knowledge workers, than the ‘normal’ BPM approach.

One of the challenges for improving the work of knowledge workers, is that the high level of flexibility and freedom needed in their work. In some cases every customer request is handled and approached differently every time, but in most cases the case is different, but the basic steps are the same. So one way of using BPM in knowledge intensive environments is defining processes on a high level. Within each part the process the knowledge worker is free to approach the case as he/she wants. We used this approach successfully at the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. Here we defined policy making in process of 4 steps. This helped the organization to standardize the work of policy making throughout the organization and manage the process more efficiently. But we think that there is more to be gained, because in this example inefficient and ineffective ways of approaching the work within one of the basic steps is not handled.

A second approach we use is defining the interaction between the primary process between different departments and other processes. In some cases these interactions are widely spread within and outside the organization. In this we don’t only look within the primary process, but also to the links with supporting processes. Currently we are using this approach at the Dutch Province of South Holland, were we define the most important links to the many internal and external actors. This creates an overview of the most important actors of which knowledge worker is depended. In this case we can help the knowledge worker, with creating an overview but also making agreements with the other actors. For example on the quality delivered and time period. Also here we think there is more to be gained, because sometimes the actors to be involved differ on the case. Especially as the complexity of the cases increases, different expertises (often from different departments) are needed. So here the social networks of a knowledge workers becomes a very important influencing factor.

In this log I will discuss the topic of increasing the productivity of the knowledge worker from a BPM perspective, and share our experiences and progress in research on this field.

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