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4.2 The Causes of Flaws In Administrative Business Processes
Over time, flaws have a tendency to creep into the administrative business processes, making them less effective or efficient and causing some degree of job dissatisfaction. A number of causes can be responsible for this. Some of them are
- The requirements placed on the administrative organization change with the passage of time. These changes may be caused by changes in new governmental regulations or the markets the organization services. In addition, changes in the organization structure and its associated responsibilities make modifications in the data processing operations necessary.
Shifts in the factors that are essential for the management of the organization (for example, if cost control becomes more important than the degree of service or quality) also lead to modifications in the data processing operations. The choice of critical success factors and the associated control variables for the business processes directly influences the requirements that will be placed on the administrative organization (see also section 5.3.2). At the same time, legal regulations and conditions mill constantly place changing requirements on the information system (for example, in the areas of privacy or environmental legislation). The information management system and the resulting setup of the administrative business processes will need to be continuously adjusted because of these factors. These adjustments will be realized through the introduction of changes in or additions to the existing informationsystem. The changes or additions will be applied to the administrative business processes, data sets, and information flows. Because the existing system is continually changing, situations in which the data processing operations no longer satisfy the requirements placed on the system can develop. These situations can be both the requirements that are placed on the system from the viewpoint of efficiency as well as those from changes in effectiveness, internal control, security, etc.
- Developments in the field of automated office procedures and equipment or Of automated transaction processing information systems. Under the most ideal circumstances, a gradual adjustment of the organization to these developments will take place, leading to a gradual increase in efficiency and effectiveness. However, these adjustments do not occur smoothly. In addition, the different technical opportunities are not always optimally applied. Thus, signs of inefficiency and ineffectiveness may gradually appear.
- Autonomous growth symptoms. There is the inclination to expand the processes still further for individuals who are defining the processes' capabilities and relative support equipment, such as computer programs, because there is a greater degree of visibility and personal satisfaction associated with the development of new information systems than there is related to maintaining systems.
- Staff members, under their own management, will set up data sets that must be updated with the existing system. This often means that the administrative business processes will constantly expand and will take longer to complete an activity. In addition, this may lead to a situation in which similar activities are completed in a number of differ ent locations within the organization, leading to the creation of similar data sets that must be added to the system.
How do you know you have a problem? Flaws in administrative business processes become evident in many different ways. One indication is the creation of backlogs in the data processing operations. Backlogs are indicated by the development of late or long delivery times, the loss of clients, or the frequent use of backup procedures.
Another sign of inefficiency can be the production of similar overviews summarizing the same procedure in different locations. For example, the management for one oil pipeline receives three different figures on the number of barrels of oil delivered to its storage units each day. Apparently, the data in the different overviews are derived from different data sets, which implies that different assumptions and definitions are being applied. This introduces the subject of unnecessary duplicates. In addition, the process of updating different data sets with the same data is a no-value-added activity.
Flaws can be recognized by the existence of information systems that produce operational information that is not sufficiently used. This becomes evident when users immediately throw away the received information or store it and never use it again. Sometimes this includes all of the distributed information and sometimes this includes only a part of the distributed information or a part of the particular overview. It may even become evident that managers waste a lot of time by doing all sorts of subsequent manual processing of the overviews or by analyzing the information on the overview.
Flaws can also occur because the information is not removed from the database when its useful life is over. This superfluous information needlessly enlarges the database, making it more complex and time-consuming to analyze.
Another indication of the existence of flaws is the introduction of illogical quantitative relationships. For example, this relationship may be between the administrative products that a department produces (invoices, reminder notices, completed ledger records, etc.) and the number of staff members within the department. These flaws may also become evident because the costs of processing the data may be increasing without a comparative increase in production.
A good understanding of the effectiveness and efficiency of the administrative business processes can only be obtained by performing an appropriate analysis of the processes themselves. These key measurements define the important characteristics related to the administrative business processes. Given the infinite number of possible causes for inefficiency and ineffectiveness within most processes, it should be clear that computerization does not offer the solution for all of the observed problems. Although computerization can provide the organization with measurements so that the organization knows if it is performing to expectations, it usually does not define the root cause of nonconformance to expectations. Once again, this emphasizes the importance of thoroughly analyzing and appropriately taking stock of the administrative business processes (see figure 4.B)....
Introduction.Documentation of Administrative Business Processes.