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Anne Stuart’s BPM in Action

Dennis Byron

Obama Does Announce "BPM for Everyone"

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Two weeks ago, heading off for vacation, I jokingly ran the headline "What If? Obama Announces "BPM For Everyone"" It was my I thought clever way to say I wouldn't be posting blog entries over the Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year holidays unless something that dramatic happened.

Well I have some good news and some bad news. President-elect Obama has announced the U.S. will have BPM for everyone in the person of a U.S. government chief performance officer. The nominee is a McKinsey consultant named Nancy Killefer.

The bad news is, I suspect, to Ms. Killefer (and therefore to Obama) BPM means business performance measurement. So memo to the Business Process Management world: We need a new acronym.

The battle has gone on for so long over the two BPMs.

As I posted about on January 2, "our BPM" has been around for over 100 years. But that doesn't matter any more. All Ms. Killefer has to do is throw out a few of "her BPMs" at a press conference or two over the next few years, and those damn guys at the BPM Forum end up winning :) Obviously they know it and have already rubbed our noses in it with the press release.

The strange thing is that I have been in this situation before. When IDC started researching BPM back around 2000, Henry Morris--of analytical applications fame--was already using BPM to mean--you guessed it: business performance measurement. (Actually somewhere along the line I think Henry changed it to business performance management.) IDC did not want the same acronym meaning two different things in its software taxonomy so at IDC, until recently, "our BPM" was called business process automation (BPA). I think my successor at IDC, Maureen Fleming, finally got IDC to drop the charade.

But now the game is on again and we have probably lost. So I suggest you all get ready to call what you think of as BPM, BPA. Or, maybe even workflow. This could end up more interesting than the difference between free/libre and open source software.

If you have any better suggestions to overcome this tragic situation, send me an email or leave a comment.

-- Dennis Byron


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Dear Dennis,

I understand BPM to mean Business Process Modeling, not Business Process Management, or Business Performance Measurement, and BPA to mean Business Process Analysis, not Business Process Automation.

I know we can't go back to BPR (Business Process Re-Engineering), that deadly acronym from the early nineties that meant people were going to be made redundant (BMR).

On a positive note, perhaps you could introduce the new acronym BPE (Business Process Engineering), which provides a positive slant and isn't as 'used up' as its corallary Business Process Architecting (BPA), which would bring us back to the muddle of overused acronyms.

If the government is going to have another round of stimulus spending it may as well be on useful technology.

Even though I am in the BPM space, it is reasonable to want the government to obtain BPM software to make our government more efficient, transparent, and effective.

Carl Casserly
BPM Solutions

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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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