Star Wars VII, the Force Awakens, is almost here! So together with the kids we are enjoying watching the previous six episodes in order, reminding myself of the original story line (now blurred from playing the computer game).

How cool are the gravity defying spaceships, surreal worlds and exotic creatures! Kids will always love the Light Sabres, the buzz and swoosh as the forces of good and evil clash. But it is Jedi mind-control that grips my imagination now – if only I could get my way with a wave of my hand and subtle suggestion!

I also now realise that the dark side of the force is a little more nuanced than my younger perception of simple good and evil. The essence of the dark force is simply selfishness. We see Anakin become Darth Vader through his passion for Padme Amidala. Personal greed for life and power. We now recognise the dark force that surrounds us all and tests us on a daily basis.

In our personal lives we can control and take responsibility for this conflict of forces. We can resist our own selfishness, or suffer the consequences and delight in its pleasures.

But in enterprises it’s more complex. We have managers. Managers of people, and of the owners’ investment. Managers faced with even greater temptation given the taste of power.

The role of managers is to deliver value for all stakeholders. To institute governance, risk and compliance processes and systems to mitigate the dark side of the force. To ensure that the enterprise achieves its objectives, and that the resources of the enterprise are distinguished from the employees and managers who handle them, and are expended unselfishly towards the goals of the organisation.

All the classic control objectives of Completeness, Validity, Existence, Ownership and Presentation really boil down to just one thing: ensuring owner’s interests are protected from the dark evil of selfishness.

In our world of the present our R2-D2 is our iPhone, and Google our C-3PO. We befriend our own loyal Chewbacca’s, rebellious Han Solo’s and wise Obi-Wan Kenobi’s. But we also realise that there are real Senator Palpatines seeking their own power, too many clone stormtroopers following blindly and mercenary Boba Fett’s, driven only by money.

So when we design our business processes, we need to ensure that both managers and employees are not misled to the dark side. Without the benefit of Jedi mind-control, over time, we have invented numerous control techniques including accounting, auditors, and annual reviews. But in my world, we can enhance process control with modern technologies:

Web and Mobile Apps to ensure that business transactions are captured as close to the action as possible.

Automated Workflow, Reviews and Approvals to ensure that these transactions are in accordance with enterprise policies and objectives.

Integration with Enterprise Resource Planning systems (such as SAP) and Document Management systems (such as SharePoint) to ensure that these transactions are co-ordinated, reportable and auditable.

These mechanisms help secure all functional areas. Take for example Incident Management and Corrective Actions. When something goes wrong (from customer complaints to serious health and safety incidents) web and mobile apps make the recording of the incident easy and complete. With mobile devices, textual reports are supplemented with images and GPS co-ordinates for greater insight. Automated workflow ensures all necessary individuals are notified and corrective actions taken on a timely basis to reduce the potential impact and liability for loss. And then those incidents are recorded in business systems for analysis and future risk mitigation.

So contain the dark side of the force, selfishness and a quest for power, and maintain control over enterprise processes with intuitive apps, automated workflow and seamless integration. Then, as Yoda would say, “Safe from the dark side, you will be.”

By Richard Frykberg

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