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“Gauche, Gauche, Gauche. The Problem of Pro-CESS” by Paul Saunders

by Debbie Wilson  |  February 24, 2020  |  Comments Off on “Gauche, Gauche, Gauche. The Problem of Pro-CESS” by Paul Saunders

Process – noun. Middle English from Latin processus (progression, course)

Etymology and Entomology are often confused.

Etymology (the study of words) fascinates me. Entomology (the study of things that make you scream out loud and embarrass your family in public) does not. (For a great read that will turn you into a veritable Cliff Clavin (and again embarrass your family in public) I would strongly recommend ‘The Etymologicon’ by Mark Forsythe.)

The word process means course or progression. It is the paths we follow in business and life. In business we have finance processes, HR processes, manufacturing processes, customer service processes and so on.

In our future of applications research we talk about the need for organisations today to focus on delivering experiences. Just selling commodities, goods and services is no longer enough. It is our experience as customers, clients or citizens for which our business processes are reputedly designed.

Experiences are much more than technology. Unfortunately organisations often mistakenly look first to technology to deliver great experiences. It is only much later that they often discover that their processes are ‘outdated’, ‘broken’ or no longer ‘fit for purpose’ and that no amount of technology can fix them.

I would like to propose another source of the word process that came to me while enjoying the wondrous experience of business travel.

I believe that for some organisations process is the contraction of two other words:

Pro – abbr. Professional. Middle English from Latin professus (to profess)

Cess – abbr. Cesspool, Cesspit Unknown. A place largely full of waste.

Pro-CESS: This definition applies to organisations that have taken the development of bad processes to such an incredible level of terrible experience that one can only stand back and applaud their gall and nefarious professionalism.

Employee experience has a direct correlation with customer experience. When employees are given great processes and great tools they in turn provide great service. And unfortunately vice versa.

I experienced a very recent example this on a flight from Edinburgh to Paris.  In spite of my daughter’s pleas for me to load up my luggage with macarons and French candy, I did not purchase anything, so my luggage contents should have been within the limits. In the security line I was asked to join another line where my luggage would be checked for size and weight. I had allocated plenty of time to make my flight so dutifully joined the queue.  Unexpectedly, my case was 1k over the limit.  With a cry of  ‘gauche, gauche, gauche’ (left, left, left) the airline employee sent me in a counter-clockwise direction back out of security to check-in.  I won’t bore you dear reader with the rest of the details. Suffice to say I made it back through security with two jackets on and shoes in my pockets.  This was clearly not the proc-CESS anyone intended.

Somewhere I imagine this airline was having a meeting on how to improve the customer experience. Somebody was mentioning analytics, someone was mentioning artificial intelligence, another discussed CRM but used their desired vendor’s name. Changes to websites and mobile apps were debated. Integration with smart TVs, Amazon Alexa skills and Apple Watch apps discussed. And all agreed that they needed to modernize their ERP solutions so they could link customer and operational data into a 360 degree loop of continuous improvement.

And in this haze of technology and buzzwords no-one mentioned the pro-CESS problem. And so the conversation goes around in circles – gauche, gauche, gauche.

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Category: applications  erp  

Deborah R Wilson
Managing Vice President, ERP Strategy Team
12 years at Gartner
20 years IT industry

Deborah Wilson, a recovering Gartner research analyst, leads the Gartner ERP strategy research team. Read Full Bio

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