Meta-Process Analysis

I've begun to talk about what I've decided to term “meta-process analysis.”  By meta process analysis I mean the analysis of a generic or abstract process — usually a specific type of process like an auto production line process, or a retail store sales process.  The focus of the analysis is to describe ways in which the process might be improved.  Since the process isn't a specific or actual process, it may or may not correspond to the similar process at your organization, but to the degree that it does, it suggests ways your process can be improved.

The driver for many meta-process analysis efforts is to demonstrate how a new technology might be applied.  I've done a couple recently to show how new cognitive or AI technologies can improve processes.

I just came across a nice example of this approach in a newly published article by McKinsey & Company entitled  “A Road Map for Digitizing Source-to-Pay.”  In essence the article suggests ways that digital technologies could be used to improve a source-to-pay process.*

The article by McKinsey authors Kalit Jain and Ed Woodcock is available at

I would have liked the authors to provide a flowplan of a generic source-to-pay process and highlighted where the various technologies could have be used, but their approach works well enough.

In spite of the name of the article, it actually covers both the digitalization of the process and the incorporation of cognitive or AI techniques in the process.

People have always written articles of this kind, but given the rapid rise of complex systems of technologies that can complete revolutionize common business processes, I think you'll see more of this genre in the near future.  It's a good way to communicate a vision of how to improve a company using new technologies.

* As most readers know, I prefer to use the convention that names processes with a verb and a noun (e.g.  Accomplish Task).  Thus I might term this process “Source Parts” or “Obtain Sourced Parts,” or something similar.  The alternative convention, used in this McKinsey article, trys to describe a process by naming starting to ending activities.  It's the more common way of naming processes used among most ERP vendors.