Eliminating Shadow Processes
By Mike Raia Posted November 21, 2018
In every almost every small or large business, employee politics, preferences and personal relationships conspire to create shadow processes. Shadow processes are processes or workflows that willing circumvent the accepted, standard operating procedures defined by the organization.
Some examples of shadow processes in action:
- "I'll ask Ed in IT to turn back the server clock so I can book this customer order for last month."
- "I was on the phone during workflow training so I'll just use my old spreadsheet and walk it over to production."
- "My new hire starts tomorrow, I'll just call down to the help desk and see if they can get me a workstation and account access asap"
In addition to wholesale backchannel processes, individual tasks like verbal approvals or ad hoc decision making that is hidden in lengthy email threads or given during hallway chats hinder management’s ability to analyze what has actually occurred during a process and then makes it impossible to design effective ways to deal with non-routine situations in the future. These shadow processes exist to fill what Oracle describes as process whitespaces, the work that gets done outside the large enterprise systems like CRM and ERP.
But there is a way to shine a light on these shadow processes and mitigate risk for the organization. A Gartner report from an annual BPM summit summed it up perfectly:
"To encourage shadow process owners to make their processes more visible, business process improvement leaders, application managers and enterprise architects should proactively suggest high-productivity BPM cloud platforms to their business process stakeholders."
Whether you use a full BPM suite or a workflow automation platform, moving processes into an easy-to-use automation platform can reduce the number of processes that occur in the background and prevent an organization from reaching the efficiency and accuracy goals they seek.