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Anne Stuart’s BPM in Action

Michael Dortch

Capturing and Documenting Incumbent Processes: Are Profiles a "First Mile" Solution?

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As I've repeatedly harangued here, one of the most consistent challenges I see to effective BPM is that current "Ps" (processes) are rarely well documented. Which means a foundation for BPM and business knowledge management (BKM) efforts that is shaky, at best.

So capturing and documenting incumbent processes is important. But how best to do it?

Well, as we industry analysts love to get paid to say, "That depends." However, I have come up with a couple of ideas that might help.

I have seen multiple companies make very effective use of items frequently called "business application profiles" or "BAPs." These are collections of information about specific applications. That information can range from which users are authorized to access the application to which internal staff and/or external vendors are responsible for its support. They can also include detailed information about the platforms on which applications run, and the other applications with which they share interdependencies.

The great thing about BAPs is that they can be created and managed with little more technologies than spreadsheets, word processing, or paper and writing implements. If there are more sophisticated collaboration tools available, they can of course be pressed into service, but they aren't prerequisites.

The other great thing about BAPs is that collectively, they provide snapshots of elements of what might be thought of as a map of key applications and their interdependencies, with one another, with IT infrastructure elements, and with key business goals – and processes.

Which brings up the idea of "business profile processes," or "BPPs." Documents similar to BAPs could be very helpful in understanding the interdependencies linking key business processes to one another, supporting applications and other IT infrastructure elements, and overall business goals. BPPs can also help facilitate the conversations IT and business decision-makers need to have to prioritize and integrate – in other words, to manage – key business processes.

Creating initial BPPs may require some detective work. Specifically, it may require tracking how applications, enterprise intellectual property (IP), and services are actually used. Again, if there are workflow management or similarly functional management tools available, they should be brought to bear on this challenge. However, if such tools are not available, interviews and notes should work sufficiently to get started.

Effective BPM and BKM starts with as much knowledge as is available about what the business wants and needs to achieve, and how people, tasks, and information are or are not aligned in service of these goals. BPPs can help any business to develop a more clear and complete picture of the present, which can only help in any efforts intended to make for a more predictable and manageable future.

Does your enterprise use BAPs and/or BPPs or similar information stores as part of BPM/BKM efforts? If not, does the idea make sense, or not? Let me know, so I don't become too enamored of an idea you don't find valuable.

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Currently i'm looking for information related to How to document business procesess. I think this article will be interesting for my research work.

Fernando Romero C.

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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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