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Anne Stuart’s BPM in Action

Michael Dortch

Beyond BPM: Business Knowledge Management?

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I've been thinking a lot more about the issues raised in my posting on "business knowledge management" ("BKM"), "Why Workflow Doesn't HAVE to Suck," especially in response to a comment the posting received. That comment said that anyone seeking BKM should look at "Human Interaction Management," and came from the lovely and talented Keith Harrison-Broninski, who, it turns out, is in a strong position to claim paternal oversight of the concepts underlying human interaction management. Many of these basic concepts come directly from a 2005 book by Mr. Broninski, "Human Interactions: The Heart And Soul Of Business Process Management."

It also turns out that Mr. Broninski is part of what one might think of as a BKM/human interaction management/beyond BPM "syndicate" of thought leaders, or at least thought prodders. The emerging cabal also includes Jon Pyke of The Process Factory Ltd., whose ebizQ article "Why Workflow Sucks" got me thinking about BKM in the first place. And wouldn't you know it? The refreshingly informed and opinionated Mr. Broninski is also a(nother) blogger for ebizQ! And his postings are drawing some pretty interesting comments, including from the aforementioned Mr. Pyke!

So what does all this mean? Well, who knows? Here's what I think, though.

When multiple disparate people and groups arrive at similar, overlapping ideas and conclusions, the truth is likely some superset of these – all or parts of all of them, plus other stuff. So far, it seems that a number of people with opinions believe that BPM has not yet delivered on its promise, and that the mismatch between human and systems behaviors may have a lot to do with this. Forrester Research now has its new vendor category, "integration-centric BPM." Mr. Broninski has "human interaction management." I've got "business knowledge management." These are all, in effect, different views of different parts of the same elephant. In an age of business activity monitoring (BAM), business analytics (BA), business intelligence (BI), BPM, business performance management ("the other BPM?"), business performance optimization (BPO), and more alphabet soup, we're all grasping for ways to maximize the value of people, tasks, and information to the enterprise, using IT-empowered tools and IT-supported processes.

We can all agree, however, that none of the current niche solutions or vendors offers anything that addresses "the complete/big picture" completely effectively for all or even most enterprises. Instead, we're looking at a situation very much like that of attempts at information lifecycle management (ILM) or intellectual property lifecycle management (IPLM). Once upon a time, there were content, document, information, and knowledge management, and dedicated data stores for structured and unstructured data. Now, what enterprises want and need, and what vendors are struggling to deliver, are integrated solutions that consolidate management of disparate information types, across the enterprise. You know – so authorized people can get at the information they need to do their work. People, tasks, and information.

In addition, enterprises want and need consolidated, holistic views of the policies and processes that govern the performance of tasks. This so they can refine and revise those policies and processes in timely response to changing conditions, goals, and/or needs. And if these efforts are to matter, they need to address not only static processes and systems, but human behavior and knowledge as well. And that, I think, is why so many of us are flailing away at whatever this is.

I'll have more to say about BKM and almost all of the other acronyms mentioned above soon (and, if I know me, often). Meanwhile, though, you can get a bigger taste of my views by checking out Part One of a new, two-part RFG Research Note on BKM now playing at the ebizQ Analyst Corner. Part Two should be available next week. As always, your comments and thoughts welcome.

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Business process management and optimization -- philosophies, policies, practices, and punditry.

Anne Stuart

I am the editor of ebizQ.

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