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Article Analysis: Business Process Improvement

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Autor:   •  December 30, 2010  •  974 Words (4 Pages)  •  507 Views

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Introduction

The role of information technology (IT) in the world of business process improvement can take many forms. From an automation standpoint, no one knows more about the subject than the IT professionals within an organization. From the business unit perspective, no one knows more than the department professionals. The article selected for this analysis is titled "Whose is Process Improvement Anyway?" by Meridith Levinson. It describes two separate organizations that utilize IT in their business process improvement strategies. It further describes the hurdles that must be overcome to make IT a leader in business process improvement initiatives.

As technology improves and newer business process improvement software is developed, IT becomes more ingrained in the practice of automating outdated business practices. As one might guess would happen, lines are drawn in the proverbial sand and political infighting ensues between those that want to automate and those that see an outside organization telling them how to do their business. If not put into practice the correct way, IT led business process improvement will surely lead to fractured egos and long-term consternation between the parties involved.

In many organizations, IT is the easy target for poor performance. How often do we hear excuses such as, "Well, the network is down and IT can not seem to get it fixed" as the reason for a missed deadline? In situations such as these, the mere idea of IT leading any sort of process improvement is almost comical. Most of us have worked in an environment where IT simply could not do what we think they should. Then on the other hand, there are some IT departments that run like a European sports car. In either case, the question of what role IT should play in business process improvement is perplexing. The business unit that owns the process certainly knows their job better than the IT department. However, perhaps they need an outsider's perspective with a keen eye for automation to assist them in improving outdated processes and procedures.

The City of Minneapolis

In this particular article, the first scenario presented involves the city of Minneapolis and the implementation of a Ð''311' system. The problem stemmed from city residents not knowing who in the local government to call to report routine problems. If a citizen needed to report a bad traffic signal, they were forced to search through the phonebook's 275 listings for the city offices. Due to the obvious problem presented, some residents would forego the phonebook and dial Ð''911' emergency services to report these non-emergencies. That presented not only a problem to the city government, but also to the citizenry through the tying up of emergency workers and systems.

The chief information officer (CIO) for the city took it upon himself to implement a non-emergency Ð''311' system to assist in this growing problem. The main problem that he encountered stemmed entirely from the reputation the IT had within the city government. At the time, the IT department was called Information Technology Services (ITS), and the common translation for the acronym was "It totally sucks". This is hardly the recipe for a successful leading of an IT led business process improvement project.

In an effort to change the image of the IT department, the CIO then outsourced all IT infrastructure support to Unisys. He then renamed the department to Business Information Services. Finally, he worked diligently at selling his newly made over department to the other city government agencies. It took nearly four years, but the end result is that the other agencies

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