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BPM from a Business Point of View

Scott Cleveland

Process Management & Business Intelligence

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Bill Gassman spoke at a Gartner BPM Seminar on the value of bringing Business Intelligence, Business Activity Monitoring and Business Process Management together.

He said that Business Intelligence adds value to business process management in 2 ways:

  • Business intelligence adds value by improving decisions through decision management

  • Business Intelligence adds value when applied 'about' the process

My Thoughts...

I have worked in business process management for years. I have always thought of business intelligence as the logical enhancement to process management for the reasons Bill Gassman spoke of.

  • Many activities within business processes require decisions to be made. Information is needed to make those decisions and the needed information is likely to be in more than one data source. A business intelligence solution, implemented properly, could provide them with that information. The objective is to get the right information to the right person at the right time.
  • Companies implement business process management to become more efficient. Improving processes requires metrics. Dashboards or Reports could provide you with the needed statistics to improve your processes. Beyond the metrics of process activities, there are other measurements that are important. You could be measuring: how machines are working; if inventory arrives on time; if inventory meets quality guidelines; and bottlenecks in general. Improvements in any of these areas will make your processes and your company more efficient.

Why is this important?

With the economy in its current state, some companies will fail and some companies will become winners. We all want to be one of the winners. A key ingredient is to be more efficient - Efficiency lowers costs which in turn should generate higher profits.

Your Thoughts...

What steps is your company taking to become one of the winners?

Keeping it Real!


This has never been more important today than ever. However, whats the point of monitoring what you have little chance of fixing (time or money)? It's been a big part of the BI conundrum for years.

It's why at OpenSpan, we use one product to monitor all desktop activity (OpenSpan Events) to find inefficient manual user processes. Then, using the same product, enable you to "automate" the inefficiencies found - without coding!

And your are right when you say;

"A key ingredient is to be more efficient - Efficiency lowers costs which in turn should generate higher profits."

We can point to customers that save $10's of millions of dollars a year - repeated, each and every year. Or to put it another way, companies that are not doing it, are wasting the same $10's of millions a year that could be put to better use (or profits).


Nice summary. A couple of thoughts in response:

You're point "The objective is to get the right information to the right person at the right time." is well made. That's really all it comes down to.

I've been working with some customer recently, and I use the phrase "real time". I have a financial industry background, where real-time meant something very specific. I've redefined my use to mean "where getting the information enables a decision to be made and still affect the outcome of the process".

I think many companies simply don't do this today. They don't empower their employees to make decisions, and give them the information to make those decisions to improve the quality of the business.

This is not my experience as a software industry person, but as a consumer. I've written a recent post on this issue here: http://bit.ly/d5d4vH

Another point I'd like to make on your post, and I promise I'll try to keep it short...

Your thoughts about metrics, are spot on. You can't improve what you don't measure.

However, most systems/architectures, don't deliver flexibility in how to measure data/information, and certainly don't do it in real time.

It simply takes too long for an individual to get access to the metrics they need... not generic metrics about some process, or some aspect of the business, but the metrics they want on a particular situation or process subset.

That sort of dynamic requirement cannot be solved by traditional thinking around BPM, BI, or BAM. If it could, people would be doing it today, and as a whole, they're not.

David Bressler
Global Solutions Director, Responsive Process Management
Progress Software

I blogged about Bill's session here and my thoughts are embedded in the post


Transparency into one's processes can usually help with transparency into their overall operations. It's interesting to see how, when an organization takes into account all the potential that can come from serious consideration of the impact of processes (especially as they relate, realistically, to human tasks), the effectiveness of their operations are radically improved. Sandra Rogers wrote a paper that describes this, called "Aligning For a More Successful Business and IT Development Paradigm" - http://www.vosibilities.com/podpress_trac/web/872/0/BusinessandITAlignmentwhitepaper.pdf

BPM gets the attention of the business, as it provides visible value to the business. But to impliment BPM without the underlying SOA architecture becomes a monumental task. I have often seen BPM come in to play within the SOA solution as a method for managing composite applications. This is useful, but doesnt really lead to the advantages that BPM can provide to the business as a whole. True BPM needs to be driven by the business and SOA allows the IT to support and engage with the business in the development of the solution.


You make an ever important point. BPM and BI are supposed to be working together, and so are BPM+SOA, BPM+CEP... so on

The case for BPM + BI looks optional to many and that's the irony. For the reasons you mentioned that shouldn't be the case.

I think that is because BI in minds of people still means reporting that is off-line. BPM vendors sell the monitoring capability (which is real-time) which may be just enough for anyone to start off. This line between monitoring and reporting is what divides BPM and BI.

I have seen cases where operational data from BPM implementation is sliced and diced offline (often in overnight batches) and made available through the analytics to the business users. But that is still done in silos of BI world and not well integrated with the BPM strategy.

BPM and BI do go hand in hand because just as the article states you need BI to make informed decisions when going through the business process management phases.

Scott Cleveland blogs about BPM from a business point of view.

Scott Cleveland

Scott Cleveland is a technical, innovative and creative marketing manager with more than 25 years of experience in marketing, marketing management, sales, sales management and business process consulting aimed at high-tech companies. His areas of expertise include: product marketing, solutions marketing, solution selling, sales maangement, business process management, business process improvement and process optimization. Reach him at RScottCleveland[at]gmail.com.


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