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Will businesses ever totally get BPM?

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It seems a good time to ask, do you think businesses will ever totally understand BPM?

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  • BPM's biggest challenge is that vendors and practitioners have made the term over broad in a way that hurts the reputation of the technology. BPM has many fantastic use case in automation and more recently, in sense and respond systems that are the reality behind the poor definition. If BPM folks spend more time talking about the great examples and less about the vague definitions, businesses will get BPM.

  • Usability, Usability, Usability. The business gets it when presented with a front-end (i.e., views, screens, forms) built for their needs. The rest (rules, routing, inputs, integrations, etc) fall in line once they see how easy it is for users to do their work.

  • When the analysts, vendors and practitioners get it then clients will get it.
    Until then, roll a six and start again.

  • For people not familiar with BPM terminology, differentiating between a case (or process instance) and the more abstract notion of a process as a template is often a big leap. The key is to hide the complexity of process as a template for early adopters.

    To get to mass adoption in BPM, I believe it's necessary to start with a simplified form of dynamic case management. Essentially that comes down to plain collaboration. Cases is much easier to understand as they are collaboration spaces for a specific topic. That will drive broader adoption.

    When more people are exposed to a case based collaboration platform, then a portion of those will start to look for advanced features such as processes or templates.

  • It's not "business" where the barriers lie as they get it when BPM is explained in their language. BUT then they see IT getting involved and vendors selling clunky supporting bloated software that falters in delivering exactly what business wants? Fact is IT do not really understand how business works and make it so complicated which of course keeps the jobs going…..? However I see hope on the horizon as next generation agile and adaptive software (6GL being a reality?) emerging that truly is in the domain of business.

  • Oh, they probably get some parts, but ever seen a company waking up in the morning saying 'let's buy some BPM today?' (maybe the ones who also visit the analyst summits)

    BPM is just daily business and the (indeed broad) industry has all kinds of methodologies, tools etc to do something with the processes.

    About 'getting something' what I often see not gotten is a good understanding/awareness of the useful processes of the organization. Starting all kind of process improvement, process automation without processes....strange.

    It's like starting a bike trip without a bike; the essentials are missing.

    So I hope companies are helped/spend some time on getting clear the basics. Then they hopefully will choose the right vendors, analysts, whatevers to make their processes do what they promise.

    In the end every company has processes, the better ones use them.

  • Will BPM ever get business?

    The business is the market and at the moment with the numerous questions about BPM, it seems the market still hasn't accepted it. BPM is about being pro active about setting up a structure of operations which is void of technology in the planning stages. However, do leaders feel threatened that their influence is neutralized or is BPM too limiting?

    I've met directors who have heard some holistic message of running processes and immediately turn the other corner once economy "goes down". Essentially there is nothing BPM can do in that sense. We can forever be trying to be a part of the party but maybe we just have to change the way we dress.

  • The main problem is that no one knows what BPM is and business really does not care about it. BPM is an artificially created market fragment by analysts and further a highly theoretical and unproven business management theory. BPM is a panacea for those who do not know better from experience.

    Does business want BPM? Absolutely not! Does business want any other three letter acronym? Absolutely not. Business wants solutions that make their life easer and whenever corporate IT gets involved that does not happen. IT buys what analysts recommend and they recommend vendors who spend the most money on them or have already the largest market share. Then there are useless approaches such as 'Best Practices' which drives all businesses down to the same low level.

    BPM the way it is still sold is only doable when all processes are standardized and centralized into service centers who could not care less about individual needs of customers and business users.

    Does business get BPM? No, and they should not need to. What businesses need is a way to clearly define why they do what work for whom and then support a collaborative approach to achieve those goals, with checkpoints, checklists and compliance rules along the way. While we support that it must be so easy to use and so benefiicial to the business user and the customer do not want to work without it.

    Do IT and executives get this form of process management? Not yet. So clearly a way has to be to show to them well working applications of such an approach. This could be what analysts are now calling Smart Process Apps, but in reality it is driven again by vendors who need to sell their old stuff hidden under the covers. Legacy apps from the start ...

    And BTW, no form of application creation - call it 4-5-6GL or call it BPM flowcharting, or standalone business rules - will provide such a goal-oriented collaboration environment to the business.

    • Okay, I'll bite. Not that I have the time or inclination to empirically refute every biased piece of hysteria in that rant, but what WOULD "provide such a goal-oriented collaboration environment to the business?" Let me guess.

      And do Layna Fischer, Wil van der Aalst, Michael zur Muehlen and a host of other academics know that we've been getting this all wrong for the better part of twenty years?

      Can't believe so many people in the business, technical, vendor, consulting and analyst world have had it so wrong for so long. Maybe could just be me. Maybe not.

    • Max
      With your restricted view of BPM you make good points BUT BPM is a discipline a way of thinking that focuses on people at work creating information and "doing things” that of course have an outcome. This has been the case since commerce started! People have no barriers in thinking how to go things better indeed "BPM" as formalised thinking was being addressed long before "IT" came up with this TLA. I was doing it 40+years ago! The fact is software technologies have just not had the capability to support effectively and the early iterations were of course oversold and disappointment followed.

      Now the enterprise software market at last turns focus to “BPM” in the widest sense as I describe. Supporting technologies must be able to handle all aspects formal, informal, structured and structured in an easy to understand and transparent manner. It needs to not just orchestrate information as created but also recognise the legacy in both data and use of functional systems. Business must drive this front end and the BPM tag is a good and well known one but just needs to see technology catch up and support exactly what business want. Detraction from this simple yet powerful message needs to be “discouraged”!

      It was the dream in the 80s to see removal of programming, case management held out hope 4GL likewise but none actually fulfilled the expectations. 6GL was like wise the move to put business in the driving seat and now it is beginning to happen. Just for clarity if your BPM supporting tool can’t deliver “a goal-oriented collaboration environment to the business” you are not supporting BPM ….?

  • No. It's called corporate ADHD and it's endemic.


  • Hold that qn for a moment, but there is something else. Will IT ever get Business?

  • Short answer: sure. BPM expertise isn't limited to the vendor or IT community. Slowly but surely, through experience, the recognition of the value of BPM, and the various ways that value can be realized, are trickling into the business.

    Long answer: I hope not. Part of my job is to make sure that we are staying a little bit ahead of our customers—not so far ahead that they don't understand our value proposition, but far enough so that when they realize a need exists, we are already there to fill it. That necessarily implies that there are some features and functions that the business does not yet "get"—but we're betting that sooner or later, they will.

  • Isn't the base question a bit of a Troll? There are many companies that understand process and use it very well in satisfying their customers. There are also many that don't understand process at all and have a very poor approach to the processes in their business (and yet some of these are likely still successful). And there are some in each category that buy BPM software. Some of the ones that are good at process are likely bad at BPM and suffer for that. Some of the ones that are bad at process get BPM and realize what they have been missing and get better.

    The question is just so broad as to be unanswerable. For any given technology, there will be some businesses who understand where and how it is to be used and will do so very well. There will be others who have no clue and will misuse it. And those failures will be pointed to by those who don't like the underlying technology as to why the technology is bad.

    I don't think there is a single technology that every single business uses or "gets". Heck there isn't one that every single business needs. So if by business "getting" something you mean everyone understands it and uses it, no that will never happen for any technology.

    Not even Max's case management stuff...

  • Business doesn’t “get” BPM and they have no intention of getting it. They “get” improvement and getting working done. They “get” that they want/need to improve operations. They measure the performance and manage these KPIs.

    If better process management improves metrics, they get the improvement. They are willing to pay for the improvement as long as it show a positive return. It is not complicated.

    Putting complex diagrams in front of them, speaking in BPM or IT language doesn’t impress them. Improving bottom line numbers impress them and most successful BPM projects are “packaged” like that.

    We have used a simple maturity model that shows business what the impact is of improving key processes and how to leverage technology to achieve that. We’ve even put it in a simple 2-page worksheet to help them map and quantify what improving 2 or 3 key operational processes would mean to them. They get that and they get that there is a process (BPM methodology) and supporting technology (BPMS/ACM/iBPMS/…) behind it.

    Here is the 2 page roadmap worksheet if anyone is interested.

  • that is an artificial intelligence or a fantasy?so i pridict that we all are in favour of marvelus surprises in the field of BPM ,and when they will arive ,we'll be asking ourself how we ever managed without them

  • will it provide best business?

  • This is a test comment.

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