We develop a model to analyze the benefits and constraints of process standardization under environmental conditions which demand a high degree of sequential variety. The model shows that the enabling value derived from standardization is an exponential function of the number of services offered and the number of service providers. The model also shows that conventional process definitions impose constraints that can result in a loss of flexibility. In a service context, loss of flexibility implies a loss of value. This loss of value is a combinatoric function which is likely to outweigh the exponential gains from standardization. We argue that designers and managers are likely to drastically underestimate the magnitude of this loss of flexibility precisely because it is combinatoric. We show that a constraint-based approach to process definition is superior to an enumeration-based approach when the environment demands high sequential variety, which is often the case in service environments.
Wimble, Matt; Pentland, Brian; Hillison, Derek; and Tripp, John, "Want Pudding? An Analytic Model of the Benefits and Constraints of Process Standardization in Services" (2010). ICIS 2010 Proceedings. 170.