Ramadan in the GCC – A lesson in ECM & BPM Project Governance August 16, 2011Posted by Sanooj Kutty in Business Process Management, Enterprise Content Management.
Tags: Bahrain, bpm, Business Process Management, ecm, Enterprise Content Management, GCC, governance, information governance, Kuwait, Oman, project governance, Project Management, Qatar, Ramadan, Saudi Arabia, UAE
The Holy Month of Ramadan brings forth a religious and spiritual ambience to the GCC. How it manages to create this mood is through reduced working hours ( 6 hours a day) and enforcement of abstinence from food and beverage
consumption during the fasting hours ( dawn to dusk). Both, the reduced hours and the abstinence are applicable to one and all, irrespective of their religion.
For those less aware of Ramadan, it is a holy month in the Islamic (Hijri) Calendar when Muslims all over the world fast from dawn to dusk without water and food. During this period, Muslims also give plenty in charity (Zakat), abstain from all sins and maintain discipline and order. In the GCC, this is encouraged by less work pressure but is also enforced through regulations that support the practices of the month.
How this impacts the Muslims and Non-Muslims is very interesting to observe. The Muslims, obviously, welcome the environment in the GCC as it helps them go through the month through social support and acceptance. The Non-Muslims, especially new arrivals from countries with minimal Islamic exposure (expect the next generation French to lead this group), tend to be frustrated and then over time adjust themselves with great difficulty at being forced not to eat or drink in public (Funnily, they rarely tend to praise the convenience of reduced working hours and pressure).
Yet, the governments are able to manage this in spite of the fact that they have a strong Non-Muslim expatriate workforce that is also necessary to keep their country functional and their economy alive. Bear in mind that there is no excessive force applied to enforce these practices upon others. Also, the Non-Muslims are not forced to fast; they are merely restricted from consumption in public as mark of respect. In fact, there are a few restaurants open and all restaurants are allowed to do home delivery.
How then, do the governments manage this?
It’s simple, through Acceptance and Enforcement.
While the majority Muslims accept with open and spiritual arms, the significant minority Non-Muslims swallow it as a spoonful of culture and a bowl full of strict regulations. A heady mix of belief and fear has worked its magic to ensure the Holy Month of Ramadan has for decades kept its sanctity and structure in the GCC as per the practices of this region.
As an inspired ECM and BPM professional, my challenges in projects have always been about bringing best practices and standards of both domains into active use. I would not be bold to say that they have been major successes most of the time with respect to the initial objectives of such projects (see ECM = Enterprise Culture Management: The GCC Analogy for the rationale).
Just like the month of Ramadan, ECM and BPM projects also require discipline (to maintain consistency), abstinence (to avoid old bad habits) and regulations (strong policies to enforce practice). If one is able to add charity (flexibility to function) to this mix, a recipe for better project success may be there for us to savor.
ECM and BPM projects must address the requirements of the larger public (the business users) to gain Acceptance while restraining the old habits of the significant minority (the management) through Enforcement as most deviations originate from management than the “Average Joe” workforce.
Perhaps, the Rest of the World can learn something from GCC on how to apply governance through a mix of acceptance and enforcement. Now, if only GCC corporates also learnt this, I would have more satisfying projects delivered to write home about.
3 Simple Tricks to BPM Project Management March 27, 2011Posted by Sanooj Kutty in Business Process Management.
Tags: bpm, business analysis, business process automation, Business Process Management, change, change management, information governance, information management, Project Management, requirements management
For the Users, With the Users, By the Users.
Inspired the legendary Abraham Lincoln’s famous quote, BPM Project Management requires a lavish dollop of democratic practices.
Traditional Project Management practices cover the 3 pillars of any project – Scope, Time and Budget. But, BPM requires more than these and includes a fourth and possibly the most difficult of them all to manage – Effort.
Leading a BPM Project is a herculean task. By adopting 3 simple tricks, it is possible to make it easier than it would otherwise be. In no way does this replace your current Project Management methodology, be it PMP or PRINCE2, but aims to enhance the effectiveness of both with a touch of social service.
For the Users
Conventional management logic requires PMs to be based away from the users and relying on their Business Analysts to take care of the users. In BPM, it is recommended that as a PM, you engage yourself hands-on in defining and executive 1 process.
While the decision makers and influencers are key stakeholders, BPM’s success lies in sorting the details with the users and by leading from the front and working for them actively in the beginning, you are able to understand their concerns and requirements, their culture and gain their trust.
Hence, the first move and initial hard work must come not from the BA, but from the PM. So go ahead and model the first process yourself.
With the Users
Assuming the PM has modeled the first process, it is quite natural to fall back and drift away from the users to traditional project management practices.
Don’t do it. Not yet. BPM is a slippery character and hence, requires consistent focus and care. Having lead from the front, it is time for the PM to now position alongside the users as they begin to model their processes. Be a partner, a shadow, a shoulder to lean on as they learn the ropes of process modeling.
This is where the PM truly gains their trust, where the PM becomes a part of them, of the team, of their pain, of their pleasures. Gain that key brownie point that would be the ace up the sleeve.
By the Users
Mankind is such a social being. And most of them are emotional social beings. Once they have begun to trust and accepted someone, they tend to commit themselves lock, stock and barrel to the cause. A trait well utilized by religious and political leaders.
As a BPM Project Manager, without any ulterior motives, this camaraderie will motivate the users to adopt BPM with passion and emotion. Once you achieve this, you will witness that BPM now moves into auto-pilot. Now would be the time to go back to fully focusing on your scope, time and budget.
I wish you all the success.
P.S. It is easier done than said. I have done it.
Tags: automation, bpm, business architecture, business process automation, Business Process Management, corporate governance, governance, information governance, innovation
As the most authoritative I can be is of the region I have worked in, this blog post covers the role of Governance in BPM in the GCC.
The GCC countries are facing a major challenge. Their oil resources are no longer enough to sustain their global presence and influence. The lurking danger of the North African people revolution spreading is another hidden concern. Taking away the natural resource factor and the political concerns, the ambition to be at the forefront of the global innovation drive through science, education and entertainment will prove to be their biggest challenge.
For a long time, the world of business and technology have been trying to automate their functionalities. Having been in the IT industry for close to 15 years in various roles primarily fluctuating between business analysis and project management, I have had the (un)fortunate opportunity to witness a lot of time, resources and money invested into automation.
The GCC countries are very young compared to the US, Europe and even East Asia. Globalization has forced them to come out of their well-oiled comfort zones and face the friction of global competition. This has led them to do whatever it takes to be of international standard and thus, unnaturally rushing into quickly adopting the latest technologies without going through the learning curve of the older and mature markets.
Automation has been quite central to various solutions ranging from ERP to EAI to CRM to BPM. It has become such a misused and often abused concept that one wonders if this fanatical desire to automate has fatally diluted focus from the real purpose – to improve business through innovation.
Information Management deployed over Technology has been a bread-winner for me and trust me, in no way am I against automation. Just as automation (from mechanical to electrical or electronic) revolutionized the industrial era, I am convinced Business Process Automation will change the rules of the game in this information era.
However, while systems can automate your obvious, the challenge is in automating the oblivious. In its rush to be among the best, GCC’s investment in automation has taken precedence over investment in innovation. When was the last time a truly path-breaking innovation came out of the Arabian stables?
This single question can be answered with a follow-up questions, “Where does innovation come from?”
Is innovation top-down or bottom-up?
Does innovation always have to come from visionary Steve-Jobs-alikes? Not necessary.
The “Java” story is one such case where innovation was born bottom-up. I am sure there are many innovative stories in every organizations. Some that change the world, some that change just that activity. However, it is these hidden small innovations that takes one ahead of competition.
For GCC to rise above the rest, they have to rise bottom-up. This leads us to take a look at the GCC workforce bottom-up.
And it becomes evident, an expatriate population completely motivated by oil-money forms the bottom core of all GCC corporates. With no authority, these core workers remain subdued under the stringent rules to create anything significantly innovative.
The Governance model of these countries bottle-necks power at the top. With a hardworking, visa-restricted obedient workforce that slog to earn its “Arbaabs” good revenue, who cares for innovation? Yet, as most lessons in life, it has come late to the ruling powers that they need to innovate bottom-up and to do so, they need to bring in their own citizens to the workforce to enable sustainable growth and long terms success.
But, bringing your inexperience minimal population to the top does not empower you with the knowledge required to grow. The devil lies in the details and innovation must kill these devils. Either they embrace the expatriates as their own and empower them, or their citizen population become humble enough to learn the hard way – from the bottom as most of the competing world does, the GCC may automate as much as they want and they will still lag behind.
This does not mean they haven’t learnt. They did learn and they are now trying to be self-sustainable. The long hard journey may require them to open some of the closed doors of citizenship and residence to the expatriates in order to do so.
BPM in the GCC will face its toughest battle not at a functional or technological level, but, with governance. Governance sets controls and authorities that enable the right people and restrict the wrong people. Until such time, that they do not learn to empower and restrict in a balance, no automation shall compensate for innovation.
BPM as a discipline and as a technology both rely on improvement. Improvement, not by automation, but by innovation.