Business process modeling
Investigation of the subjective approach in optimization of real business process. Software development of subject-oriented business process management systems, their modeling and perfection. Implementing subject approach, analysis of practical results.
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- 1. Literature review
- 2. Key Terms and Conceptions
- 3. Business process optimization approaches
- 4. The structure of the academic project
Today the entrepreneurship is an area that encompasses a great part of human major interests. So the company now is not just a unit for the production or sale. It is a social node that occupies its personal place in the world, responds in its own fashion to the circumstances and multiple environmental factors, permanently changing the direction of development and characteristics of the activity. Consequently, the business process improvement became an integral part of complex efforts, performed by a company to keep itself remaining successful and advancing with the times.
At the same time, any company is a group of people with common interests, similar goals and actions. Accordingly, all processes within the organization depend on how the employees succeed, how the business is organized and how promptly and appropriately the management is held. These are the reasons why the social aspect is very important not only in case of enterprise functioning, but also in business process optimization. Today the world is affected by an economic crisis, and ipso facto modern reality significantly depends on effective organization improvement, what, as a result, makes the topic of the research be highly relevant.
The main objectives of this draft are the following: identifying a ground of the issue, which is chosen as a topic of the graduation paper, defining the basic terms within the sphere of business processes optimization and reflecting main ideas of two approaches of business perception and improvement. Therefore, these three points compose a basic introduction for the analysis and research, which are presented in the graduation project.
1. Literature review
Nowadays there is a lot of different literature dedicated to the business process optimization. However, the social aspect of this process is not described with appropriate attention, as most entrepreneurs and scientists adhere to the traditional opinion that the human factor can be simply identified and taken into consideration by an optimization executive. Thus, all the most relevant sources were used for the examination of other actual approaches to business optimization.
Development of the graduation project was based on the works, created by J. Gharajedaghi, who reveals the essence of subjectivity in detail and systemically describes how social factor affects every facet of the organization activity. In the book “System thinking: managing chaos and complexity” he describes subject-oriented optimization approach, which is comprehensively explored in the considered academic paper. The explanation of the main psychological phenomena was obtained from the books written by V. Lefevr, who in his “Algebra of the Conscience” and “Conflicting structures” explains the mechanics of human world perception, thinking and decision-making. These works distinctively confirms that the approach, described by J. Gharajedaghi, is relevant and available for practical application.
For complete understanding of the optimization approaches the project refers to the books and articles, written by V. Chebotarev and A. Gromov. Among them there is “The Evolution of approaches to managing business processes”, which gives an actual awareness about the past and current trends of business optimization, and the book "Features of object-oriented business process modeling", published in collaboration with E. Borodina and J. Grigorieva.
More detailed information about the social factors that influence on the activities of the organization was gathered from a large number of different sources, including the books by D. Rezak, devoted to business activities and relationships, the book “Communication, activities, reflection” by G. Shedrovitsky and the “Social Psychology” by D. Myers, which describe the major social issues that appear in everyday life and business.
These sources represent only a part of the literature which was employed in the graduation project, but the described books form the basis of the key research area as the excellent trustworthy sources of information for the analysis conducted in the paper.
2. Key Terms and Conceptions
The sphere of business process optimization is very complex and includes a large number of concepts and objects, which need to be clarified for complete understanding of the issue and its narrow aspects such as social one. Key terms that were used to describe the investigation and the main topic are presented by the following:
`Enterprise' is a term that must be defined very clearly within the draft and the graduation paper. The classical definition of the concept refers to “an independent economic entity with legal personality, which produces products and services and is engaged in various kinds of economic activity”. (B. Riseberg, L. Lozovsky and E. Starodubtseva, 2006 - Modern Dictionary of Economics. Fifth edition. p.178) However, this definition does not include all the aspects of this spacious entity and the characteristics, which could be found out only by being a member of an organization. Almost all disciplines consider such complex objects as systems. Although, this term can be defined simply: the system of business processes, organized for creating a product or a service to meet the demand. In this case the social aspect of any enterprise activity cannot be assessed and considered within the production system optimization. But if the organization is perceived only as a social group, it is impossible to determine key business purposes exactly. So J. Gharajedaghi offers a special approach to specify this complex term:
“…a `multiminded' system, designed to achieve the defined goals and based on five principles: openness, purposefulness, multidimensionality, emergent property and counter-intuitiveness, which together make up an interactive whole”. (J. Gharajedaghi, 2010 - System thinking. Managing chaos and complexity. A platform for designing business architecture. p.29)
This definition covers the main features of a company and entirely characterizes its activities. In fact, this specification is preciously used within the subject-oriented approach, which will be considered in detail below.
`Business process' is “a chain of activity steps, which starts with one or more inputs and results in the creation of products or services necessary for consumer”. (E. Oihman and E. Popov, 1997 - Business reengineering: organizational reengineering and information technologies. p.71). Today there are several classic approaches for organization activity interpreting, one of them is based on processes held by enterprise, so within it a business process is considered as a set of specific tasks, the execution of which leads to a certain result, ensuring achievement of the organizational objectives. However, it should be mentioned that the result is not only a product for the user, but also all the services or documentation required for company's existence.
`Improvement' is a term, which assumes two values within the considered sphere: it could be admitted as optimization as well as reengineering. In general, an improvement means any process of transmuting anything to a better state or form or some action, which leads to an ideal.
`Optimization' is “a search and determination of values or economic indicators, which could provide the optimum - the best state of the system; usually it corresponds to the process of obtaining the best result for a given cost or resource to elaborate the desired product with minimal resource expenses”. (E. Oihman and E. Popov, 1997 - Business reengineering: organizational reengineering and information technologies. p.255). However, the sphere of the study dictates a little change for the given determination. For accuracy it should be noted that the economic indicator is not the best value to manipulate business processes. In this case optimization is better interpreted as a search of a specific set of resources, methods, processes and management concepts, which could be used to achieve the desired optimum.
`Reengineering' should be defined best within the business scope as “a process of an enterprise or firm improvement, executed by raise of technical support level and creation of a fundamentally new effective business process management, which the organization hadn`t used earlier”. (B. Riseberg, L. Lozovsky and E. Starodubtseva, 2006 - Modern Dictionary of Economics. Fifth edition. p.382)
So speculating on the business processes optimization, it is necessary to assume that each company or organization keeps certain business, which consists of processes with variety of characteristics and objectives, actors, means of performance and other features. In fact, this statement is the main thesis of the process-oriented methodology, which was mentioned earlier and which nowadays is widely used for conducting the optimization. Undoubtedly, there are several optional ways to define a company: relying on the organizational structure or available resources or functions. But process-oriented methodology allows to manage and plan extremely easier than any others do. Due to it optimization is a successive improvement of all business activities step by step, so all the links between processes, capabilities of the employees and lots of other specific characteristics of business are available for detection and consideration.
Optimization, based on the process-oriented methodology, can be executed in different ways. In the graduation project under review there are two of them explored: classic and subject-oriented one. Within the subject-oriented approach there is also a term `subjectivity' is disclosed, and the evaluation of its role and efficiency in the process of the organization improvement is given. Subjectivity directly refers to the restructuring of the social dimension, which importance is hard to deny. In fact, orientation on a subject or on a person determines the success of the entire optimization and configures the organization's activities adequately to changing external and internal conditions. But social sphere of human activity is very complex and has a lot of corresponding characteristics, including a number of concepts, which pertain to the approaches and should be defined clearly for the better awareness:
`Subject' is a broad term that has a vast number of meanings, but in general it can be defined as an active member of any interaction. However, in case of the subject-oriented approach, which is chosen as a main issue of the graduation project, this term has the following definition: “a vector or a carrier of object-focused practical activities and learning (a person or a social group); the source of activity directed to the object”. (L. Iliechev, P. Fedoseev, S. Kovalev and V. Panov (Eds.), 1983 - Encyclopedic Dictionary of Philosophy. p.673). This notion supports the nature of the approach, which considers a person or a group as a transmitter in an organization. Still the classical approach does not admit an employee as an identity with a certain potential and mental reactions but rather as a performing tool, which is endowed with a range of opportunities and requirements for usage.
`Subjectivity' refers to “a characteristic of a subject (as a performer of an activity and a holder of consciousness, cognition and reflection), which reflects the completeness of personal actual and possible potential and degree of its implementation in the present and future”. (V. Chebotarev, 2011 - Role of the subjectivity in the business processes. - Information technologies in designing and production, No.3)
`Reflexivity' is in general an object's characteristic that determines the availability to relate with others as well as with itself. However, the subject-oriented approach adopts the term as a possibility to be an implementer of reflection. Here `reflection' is “a form of intellectual human activity, purposed on the perception of their own actions and principles of behavior, or an activity of self-discovering, which reveals the particularities of the personal interior”. (A. Prohorov (Ed.), 1969-1978 - Big Soviet Encyclopedia. Vol.19, p.136).
`Role' is obligatory to be defined in case of speculation on the social aspect of any human activity. This concept refers to "a set of rules, which controls the actions of an individual in particular groups, considering their status or position, and which modifies the very behavior that implements these standards". (A. Prohorov, 1969-1978 - Big Soviet Encyclopedia. Vol.19, p.392).
`Response' is “an action, state or process arising in response to an impact, a stimulus or an experience”. (B. Smirnov and A. Korolev, 2000 - Encyclopedic Dictionary: Psychology of labor, advertisement, management, engineering and ergonomics. p.391). This definition is particularly important for understanding of the terms `reflexivity' and `reflexive control', admitted as fundamental by the subject-oriented approach, especially in case of business process optimization.
These conceptions and definitions represent only the main terms used in the graduation project, which, on the whole, describes in detail and compares two optimization approaches coherently, focusing on the characteristics and efficiency of the subject-oriented methodology.
subjective modeling business process
3. Business process optimization approaches
The graduation paper “Analysis of the Social Aspect of Improving Company's Business Processes” contains description and comparative analysis of two optimization approaches that are widely accepted nowadays. The first of them is a classic one, introduced a long time ago and established on the traditional practices of social factor consideration. The second one was born in circumstances of recent business and environment changes and was named subject-oriented in virtue of its comprehension of human natural experiences, capabilities of thinking and behavior in society as crucially influencing factors.
These approaches presume different vectors to be responsible for positive improvement of organizational activities, aimed at achievement of the certain goals and at the same time acceptable to perform for each of the employees.
Classical approach should be described as a viewpoint, according to which any system operates smoothly with the desired results only if there are precise factors of external control and customization applied. Thus, the recognition of social organization features is conducted by the means of external analysis. This method gives an opportunity to deduce only some global principles of ?? business process reconstruction, which results presumably satisfy both employees and employers and make attaining of the specified objectives fast, accessible and economic.
However, new time requires new solutions. The purpose of the graduation project is efficiency analysis of subjectivity and subject-oriented approach in comparison with the classic one. The subject-oriented approach declares an organization as a system, capable to adjust itself and adapt to the permanently changing conditions through the abilities and potential of its subjects. This approach allows avoiding errors and inexactness, born by the relativity of external evaluation. In fact, people, responsible for optimization, produce obstacles for themselves, trying to obtain quality business establishment by traditional methods. The object-oriented approach takes into account such social phenomenon as reflexive behavior, which can, on one hand, reduce to zero all the efforts of optimization or, on the other hand, can provide useful levers to adjust business processes. Recognition and exploiting of the human reactions recreate a `multiminded' system. Such an organization is based on reflexive control, which is hard to plan first, but simple to implement after; also it could be self-reflective, in other words it can control itself by internal system of interactions. And all these daydream possibilities are provided by the means that every company has: an integral complex of human mind and character, which is either simply discarded or poorly accounted within the classic approach.
Thus, despite the fact that capabilities of the object-oriented approach seem to be utopian and remind of an ideal system or `perpetuum mobile', nowadays some companies are already adopting the principles of reflexive control. Moreover, the sphere of information technologies also meets this innovative method with enthusiasm, creating special information systems to organize and manage a self-reflexive system.
It is impossible to claim that this approach will become a panacea and acquire wide adaptation. However, the current state of the global economy is characterized by `aging' and `death' of major companies that were holding on their shoulders whole industries for a long time. So the fact of irresistibly impending crisis reports distinctly: it's the very moment when new solutions are needed. And in this moment only completely new technologies, sometimes perceived as insubstantial and even irrational, can stabilize the situation.
4. The structure of the academic project
The graduation project “Analysis of the Social Aspect of Improving Company's Business Processes” is devoted to the social aspects of business process optimization; herewith the main aim is analysis of the `subjectivity' concept. Thus, there two approaches to optimize business activities are described, and one of them, the object-oriented, raises the conception of subjectivity and employs it as a main principle. Revealing the essence of the concept and its role, the author compares two ways of organization improvement and assesses the efficiency of focusing on a person.
So the project itself consists of the following parts:
Section 1. The theoretical part
Optimization of business processes and its actuality
The phenomenon of an organization and approaches to its activity improvement
The classical approach
The subject-oriented approach
The subjectivity and its role
Comparative analysis of approaches
The capabilities to use the subjectivity and the future of the subject approach
Section 2. The practical part. Assessment of the subject approach capacity within the business process optimization
Description of the task and following conditions
Optimization of a business process by means of the information system Subject-oriented Business Process Management
Section 3. Analytical part.
Analysis of the results derived in the practical part
Subject-oriented Business Process Management system: opportunities and implementation
Summary of the results derived in the academic project and trends of further research
Section 1 includes theoretical information on the theme and description of the optimization approaches. In addition, here the features of the approaches are compared, and the concept of subjectivity is determined and followed with the estimation of its role and potency.
Section 2 describes a case study of the subject approach application within optimization of a real business process. Optimization is performed by special software, Subject-oriented Business Process Management system, which allows process modeling and improving on the basis of the subject-oriented approach.
Section 3 contains analysis of the practical results, describes achievements of the executed optimization and the strengths and weaknesses of the system Subject-oriented Business Process Management. Also there is an examination of the system's opportunities and facilities of its application for an enterprise.
Summary of the project results resumes the outcomes of the subject approach implementation in practice and adduce the recommendations and suppositions for the tendencies of further researches.
Today the sphere of business process optimization is one of the leading areas and constantly generates new ideas and solutions, providing improvement in the entrepreneurship and many other human activities. Social aspect also plays a crucial role in the organizational enhancement, and this is the reason why the right choice of an approach to perceiving human factors is not only the most important component of the optimization, but also a way to understand the phenomenon of an enterprise correctly. Thereby when the progress changes the world rapidly and the economy is in a critical state, it is quite possible that exactly a fresh look at the business and management processes will help to balance global markets and will move the society to a new stage of the evolution.
1. J. Gharajedaghi, 2010 - System thinking. Managing chaos and complexity. A platform for designing business architecture. - Moscow: Grevtsov Books.
2. V. Lefevr, 1973 - Conflicting structures. Second edition. - Moscow: Sovetskoe Radio.
3. V. Chebotarev, E. Borodina and D. Grigorieva, 2010 - Features of the application of the subject-oriented business process modeling. - Moscow: Publishing office of Scientific Research University Higher School of Economics.
4. V. Chebotarev, 2011 - Role of the subjectivity in the business processes. // Information technologies in designing and production, No.3. - Moscow: The All-Russian Research Institute for Interindustry Information - a Federal Informational and Analytical Center of the Defense Industry, a Federal State Unitary Enterprise (VIMI).
5. L. Iliechev, P. Fedoseev, S. Kovalev and V. Panov (Eds.), 1983 - Encyclopedic Dictionary of Philosophy. - Moscow: Sovetskaya Entsiklopediya.
6. A. Prohorov (Ed.), 1969-1978 - Big Soviet Encyclopedia. Vol.19. - Moscow: Sovetskaya Entsiklopediya.
7. B. Smirnov and A. Korolev (Eds.), 2000 - Encyclopedic Dictionary: Psychology of labor, advertisement, management, engineering and ergonomics. - Moscow: Delovaya Kniga.
8. E. Oihman and E. Popov, 1997 - Business reengineering: organizational reengineering and information technologies. - Moscow: Finansy&Statistika.
9. B. Riseberg, L. Lozovsky and E. Starodubtseva, 2006 - Modern Dictionary of Economics. Fifth edition. - Moscow: INFRA-M.
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