It is commonly believed that business process analysis and handling is the core of a modern information systems, the most important pre-requisite of any other investigation or implementation. There is no doubt that business processes matter: business processes are the dynamic structure of the firm, events (messages, orders, goods tec.) are created and consumed, system states are crossed, constrains are enforced.

That is all very right but reality is very often not so smooth or linear. If your firm is perfectly organized and, moreover, if your perfect firm is in a perfectly organized country it may happen (and indeed it happens) that the world around you is not so perfectly organized or it organized in a completely different way, so different not to be reconcilable with your methods. Business process management is very often a synonym for inextricable rigidity, that is the opposite that is needed in a globalized world.

Rigid business process management tools are doomed to fall in dead-locks, to stop the overall system in some unsurpassable constraint, i.e. to create more inefficient than the efficient increments they produce.  But, wait! Constraints are just there to constraint, isn’t it! In a perfect world, yes, it is but in this world no, it is not!

The fact is that what is practically needed is a flexible business process management. The term flexible here is not a sophism to mean “chaos-allowed-here” but it mean to enforce any constraints that have been considered useful and necessary but ready to raise exceptions. Of course breaking a constraint on exception must be justified by some really good reason. Constraints should be not blocking by default: always enforce constraints, you may break constraints and any break to the slightest constraint is fully registered and highlighted.

That is a flexible business process management. It is not favoring a loop-hole firm management because constraint breaks are not hidden but, on the contrary, made fully evident including their justifications.

In fact, there is a sort of perverted view of the business processes: what really matter are not business processes in themselves – they are simply a means to an end. What really matter is the end to be achieved. If at any time it may happen that a constraint prevents a goal to be achieved, given a good goal, of course, the constraint has to be broken and the break clearly highlighted. You may even receive a prize in money if you break a constraint that allows your firm to get its mission accomplished.

Alessandro Bellini

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