Email+Spreadsheets as Process Management Tools

In my previous post I gave a set of end user criteria for choosing a process management tool. I came up with 9 criteria (See Choosing a Process Management Tool  and since no one complained – they must be correct). If those really are the criteria important to busines users (or the end users of process tools, not the developers), it is no wonder they use email+spreadsheets – that combination scores very high with respect to the criteria in the list:

1. Ease of to use – for mail+spreadsheet processes, there are no developers – just participants. It is a well known rule of thumb that people consider things they know easy to use – which puts email and spreadsheets high on the ease-of-use scale, even though they may not be the best tools for managing processes.

2. Existing product usage patterns and successful deployments – pretty high here too, since email and spreadsheets are so ubiqitous and flexible. Given any process there is a good chance you’ll be able to find someone doing it via email and spreasdsheets.

3. Process implementation speed and agility – really high. Participants can get started immediately, no development or IT involvement needed.

4. Cost – Everyone already has these tools, so cost isn’t an issue. If you don’t have email or spreadsheets – getting  started is really cheap, or even free.

5. Tool reliability, ubiquity and acceptance -check, check and double check.

6. No vendor lock-in – There is for the GUI (outlook+excel), but this doesn’t seem to count as much for office software – every seems to accept a pretty pervasive MS lockin, especially for MS Office and MS Excel.

7. Multiple language support – check.

8. Participant control – anyone can start a process immediately, and can get almost anyone else involved (at least anyone with an email address).

9. Ability to implement true end-to-end processes (this is my translation for – powerful, eay to use integration capabilities) – This is the only place where email and spreadsheets score low.

So given that list – why would anyone NOT use email and spreadsheets?


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