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How to Deal with Information Overload

The growing need for governance and control

The latest trend, which is amplified by recent market events, is the growing need for governance and control over the human work being carried out around business processes and day-to-day operations. From how a loan is granted, to how an oil rig is approved for drilling, there is a concrete need to manage and control human work and make sure it adheres to standards, regulations, and best practices.

Facing the harsh times ahead, CIOs will be required to provide solutions that will cut costs, make processes more efficient, and provide managerial visibility, control, and compliance with regulations and governance acts. For example, consider the following simple scenario - a corporate VP receives a full report from internal control containing all findings from the recent audit review. How can they manage and track these findings to completion? What set of patterns, systems, or tools can we offer them in this tedious task of orchestrating this process?

Human processes are business processes that generate a business outcome that is heavily dependent on interactions between people. This is the most prevalent kind of process in which knowledge workers take part. Much of the work of these processes is around the communication, coordination, and management aspects of the business process. Currently most human processes in business are executed using standard productivity tools (e.g., Microsoft Office), e-mail (e.g., Outlook), spreadsheet lists, and meetings.

Human processes are:

  • Unstructured or semi-structured: There is a standard framework for the process and how to achieve the intended result, but each case is handled separately and requires tacit judgment (for both decisions and flow) as part of the process. There is not enough standardization between instances of the process that allows for a formal, complete and rigorous description of the process end-to-end.
  • Dynamic: The flow of the process changes on a case-by-case basis, based on available information and human decisions. A flow can also change while the process is being executed based on new information, or a changing environment. Priorities, work distribution and availability of resources are part of this ever-changing environment.
  • Intertwined: Each action in itself is a whole new process that spans across several individuals. A process action assigned to someone will most likely trigger subsequent actions and processes relating to the specific step in the original process.
  • Borderless: Systems have boundaries, not people. Human processes know no boundaries and a process can involve anyone within or outside the group/team/project or even organization borders. This is one of the main reasons why e-mail is so powerful in collaborative human processes - everyone has it.

More Stories By Ayal Steiner

Ayal Steiner is the director of product management of ActionBase. He joined ActionBase in 2004 and managed the development of ActionBase for Office. Since then he has moved on to product management and is currently responsible for the product’s roadmap, lifecycle and market analysis. Ayal has vast experience in the IT industry with more than 8 years of experience in research and development of enterprise solutions. In the course of his work, he was nominated as Microsoft Regional Manager for Office solutions by Microsoft Israel and is a key speaker in Microsoft events. Ayal has a B.Sc in information systems management from the Israeli Institute of Technology (Technion) and is scheduled to graduate his International Management MBA program from the Interdisciplinary Center in 2009.

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