BPM, Usability and Aesthetics

This wonderfully "geeked-out" and fascinating video on the "Science of Aethestics" and User Interface design (hat tip to the Signal v. Noise blog at 37signals) got me thinking about the relationship between process optimization and user interface optimization.

So often, we focus on how we can improve the "Capital P" Process.   BPM analysts use simulation and analysis tools to find bottlenecks, re-order resources, look for opportunities for "process improvement."  But in many cases--a customer service rep working in a call center, or a claims processor working an auto insurance claim--the real process optimization comes not in the "capital P" Process, but in the little tasks those people do every day: tabbing between systems to access data, scanning throw data-centric screens that don't understand the user intent, etc.  If I can shave 18 seconds off of a 3 minute phone call or take 2 minutes of a 20 minute claim processing exercise, I've just delivered at 10%  "process improvement" which will never show up on a BPMN diagram or a high-level process model.  These little things--making sure the buttons are easy to read, the screens line up and the experience is intent-driven can be just as important as getting the process model right.  We need to make sure that our BPM projects incorporate the User Experience, otherwise we leaving optimization opportunities on the table.