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BPM from a Business Point of View

Scott Cleveland

BPM vs. Business Process Management

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From an Adam Deane posting...

BPM, at its core, has nothing to do with software. NOTHING. We all (usually) color our understanding of and conversations about BPM in the light of a particular vendor's software implementation of BPM (and even more by the applications we've built on these platforms).

BPM is a management approach that looks at an organization or federation of organizations holistically as a set of business processes -- not their implementation in a software system, but as a logically organized set of interactions between humans, systems, and external parties that individually and jointly make up the "things" that organization does. Key to this management philosophy is the measurement of business and process metrics that provide insight into how well the organization is "working." The software is simply a means to an end -- a tool to ensure that once the processes are understood, they are followed; that the required performance metrics are captured and available to the right people at the right time. (Actually, in that light, it might be even more useful to think of BPM as a tool used in monitoring and managing an organization, rather than a "management approach".)

My Thoughts...

I agree with Adam - A large number of people look at BPM through the prism of software offerings - maybe even a majority.

Business Process Management

For years, I have been saying that BPM is about managing business processes, 'not their implementation in a software system'.  Given my definition, your company can implement BPM without software.  This kind of implementation will be paper driven and a person will need to monitor the process and the work being accomplished within the steps of the process.

BPM Software

1)      BPM software cannot be implemented unless you 'document' your process on paper.  BPM software needs to be 'configured' to function the way you want it to function so you have to know how to 'configure' it.

2)      BPM software is about control and visibility.  It provides 'control' - the process cannot move from step 1 to step 2 unless the business rules are followed.  It provides 'visibility' so that people in the process can see that step 1 is complete and someone is working on step 2.

Even though a company doesn't have BPM software, it is likely that they are 'loosely' managing at least one process in their company.  By 'loosely', I mean that they may not even have anything written.

Your Thoughts...

Has your company moved beyond 'loosely' managing their processes?



Great comments, Scott!

Of course you are absolutely correct. The challenges is that so many organizations are looking for a software solution (read: "a panacea") to deal with what are really process management (read: "systemic") issues.

As Deming once said, "If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, then you don't know what you are doing." We don't need more BPM software suites, we need actual process-oriented thinking!

Completely agree. But the problem is that everyone means a different thing with the term "BPM" so I have stopped using it.

We know that there IS a management practice around this. Let's give it a name so we can talk about it. Perhaps "Management of Business Processes" (MoBP). I don't really care what we all call it, but insisting that we call it BPM will just prolong pointless arguments about what BPM means.

Here is my breakout of the seven different topics which various people call "BPM" at different times.

Seven Categories to Replace BPM


Excellent points.

My only caveat is that documenting processes "on paper" should not be read as endorsing paper-based process modelling.

Regardless of whether future automation and instrumentation of processes is done, using modern BPMN modelling tools that are focussed on providing multiple clear views and analysis of the document processes suitable for humans to review has value, as does having a central, easily accessible electronic repository of processes. One of the outputs can, and likely will, be paper printouts of the process views.

These don't have to be expensive. Good SaaS tools which support BPMN exist which are very inexpensive and have good security, collaborative abilities and simple usage.

Our experiences have found that paper-based modelling (or .ppt or Visio modelling) typically do not provide sufficient analytical rigour to be of use compared to the alternatives, and the alternatives enable processes targeted for automation and monitoring to be shifted to tooling that supports those easily.

Note: I am not posting this comment on behalf of IBM, but I do work for them and IBM does provide a SaaS tool suitable for this, BlueWorks Live.

I agree wholeheartedly Scott, but I'd add another thing to "control" and "visibility", and that is "maintenance" (you could call it "governance" if you wanted to be fancy ;-)
In your post "control" is about control of activity within the process; this "governance" thing is about having some kind of control over how things get changed and how those changes get enacted.

I quite often refer to BPM as "improving the process of process improvement".


well described and usefull information

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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