Ground-Floor BPM

Scott Menter

Simulation > Evolution > Prediction!

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Last time, I ventured to suggest that the value of simulation in the BPM world lies somewhere between slim and none. A number of you took issue with my comments, which was fun, because it gets awfully boring around here if we're just, you know, agreeing all the time.

In a well-considered response, software exec John Januszczak explained how he was initially put off by my position, but after taking another look, found some common ground. (John's posting was also very appealing visually--ebizq blogmasters, please take note.)

Anyway, John makes a very important point at the end of his posting:

Automation collects the data required by simulation models. [...] Simulation, when used in this way, is positioned to provide predictive capabilities for BPM systems that are extremely valuable to management. It's also consistent with the latest trends in BPM: specifically the process prediction component of process mining and prescriptive analytics answering such questions as: When will my process end?

I couldn't agree more. The only difference we have is that when one talks about collecting data from running processes, I no longer think of the resulting model as simulation, but rather as prediction. Semantics.

John thus becomes one of few BPM thought leaders I've encountered who envisions what to me seems to be the next logical step in BPM evolution: the ability to predict the behavior of a process.

Here in the 21st century, BPM solutions ought to be able to tell you:

  • How long will this process take?
  • What effect will a delay in one activity have on a later actiivity? 
  • Which users tend to complete this activity on time, and which do not? 
  • At this moment, which activities are likely to complete on time? Late? Early?

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As John points out, only once a process is automated does it begin to produce the data through which this type of analysis can be made. Automation may be "paving the cow paths", but if you think that path might one day need paving, best to get it done before the rainy season sets in.

Well, OK, I never really understood that bovine metaphor anyway. Bottom line: actual data from process execution is what drives improvement. The sooner you automate, the sooner you improve.

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Scott covers ground-level BPM issues of interest to enterprise users who are tasked to do more with less while improving business processes.

Scott Menter

E. Scott Menter is the VP of Business Solutions for BP Logix, a provider of business process management (BPM) solutions to corporate, non-profit, and government organizations. In addition to technology leadership positions in financial services and higher education, Scott also spent over a decade leading his own identity management software firm. Contact Scott at Scott.Menter@bplogix.com
or http://twitter.com/ESMatBPL.

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