A business process is not trivial, and building and managing complex business processes is not for the faint hearted.

Last week I was on a business trip to England and needed to take a train into the city of London.

Being an American, I’m used to trains that look identical to those seen in movies in the 1950’s. The only difference seems to be that men no longer wear suits and hats or chain smoke.

Now the trains in the UK and much newer and more advanced. They are quiet, fast and feel very modern. And yet…..

Recently a brand-new tunnel across London was opened for the trains, one that allows much faster travel across the largest city in the country. The impact on the whole country-wide train system was profound, with faster travel, and more direct connections between many places.

But the whole transition to a new time table failed because of a simple mistake. They didn’t offer training for the train drivers long enough before the transition to the new time table to allow all the drivers to be trained.

It seems that this new tunnel demands a driver be certified to pass through it, and without this certification, the trains would need to stop outside the tunnel and change drivers, go through with the certified driver and then change back again.

The impact of this one change to the process meant that for weeks now a large proportion of trains have had to be cancelled. And the cancellations are not being communicated well, leaving a lot of flustered commuters standing around looking annoyed and yet still apologizing to each other (which is the English way).

Who would have thought that not offering enough training could have caused a complete collapse of the system! And yet that seems to be exactly what has happened.

Complex business processes are always susceptible to failing, if critical dependencies are not considered.

IT experts who build complex business applications (or are responsible for systems within complex business applications) see these kinds of things every day, but the ones that use products like Nastel’s AutoPilot avoid these issues by ensuring that they have the ability to predict and avoid system outages.