Posts Tagged project management business process management workflows

The Laws of Simplicity

In these prior blog posts:

Applying Occam’s Razor Principle to Product Design – Lessons learned from our Project Management Software design experiences

Occam’s Principle Applied to IT Investments

I outlined how Occam’s Razor principle could apply to product design and IT investments. I recently stumbled on to the writings of John Maeda who has authored a book on the laws of simplicity. A summary of the laws can be found here:

http://lawsofsimplicity.com/category/keys?order=ASC

A review of the laws is a good refresher for anyone in charge of project management, new product development and software design. The last law states: Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful. This is actually Occam’s principle which I described and provided some examples for in the above mentioned posts. In fact as John Maeda mentions in his book and on his website Occam’s principle is really an encapsulation of the first nine laws.

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Workflow driven project management – have you workflowed lately?

The term "workflow" is unfortunately used loosely in the market place. Do not be fooled! Most systems claiming to be "workflow based" or "workflow-driven" actually do not provide any workflows! They simply hard code a project-related business process to the way they think you should be automating it, make a few settings optional, and call it a workflow.

A truly workflow-driven project management solution provides a graphical workflow engine at its core for all of the business processes it automates which allows you to draw your business process, similar to how you would design a chart in Visio. The difference is that as you draw the process, the workflow engine actually enforces and manages the business process and all of the business rules for you.

With a workflow-driven project management solution your data is audited, soft and hard validated, and approved based on best practices for whatever process you are controlling. All of the project management workflows that you need should be available out of the box; you should not have to build any to start; but you, as a business user, should be able to change them yourself at any time, create new ones, add new fields, set notifications, set role based assignments, set auditing etc all of this without IT’s help or programming/technical knowledge.

As your organization matures, so will its processes. With a flexible platform for business process design and control , you can simply reconfigure your existing processes or draw your new process without programming.

So next time you see someone claiming to be workflow-driven project management application, ask them what they really mean?

  • Does the application provide a graphical workflow engine?
  • If the answer is yes? Is the workflow engine based on any industry standards?
  • Can you create new workflows to automate other project management processes?
  • Can you graphically modify existing pre-defined business processes?
  • Does the system need programming, professional services, or IT’ involvement to configure or modify a workflow?

If the project management vendor you are considering says yes to all of the above questions except the last one (which should have a "no" answer), you’ve got yourself a workflow-driven solution!

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