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Why isn't BPM the language of the boardroom?

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This blog, BPM is business performance dressed to kill, raises an interesting point, asking, Why isn't BPM the language of the boardroom, and do you think it should be?

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  • On a worldwide level, BPM is still moving out of college into the professional ranks. In a couple years BPM will have been promoted to management and executive level positions. On a personal level I'm seeing BPM penetrate companies with 250+ employees across all industries. Less than half the time are executives leading the engagements.

  • The various BPM languages (for all the hand waving) are execution languages, and therefore tactical and operational. The boardroom deals with fuzzy questions and incomplete data, driven by strategic imperatives which shift every quarter.

    Advocating BPM as a language for the boardroom is foolish, and shows a complete miss understanding of what the upper levels of your organisation is working toward. If we want to dilute the claim to "BPM as an approach", then we're just engaging in selling snake oil.

  • The role of the board is corporate governance: they establish broad policies and objectives, select and review the performance of the chief executive, ensure adequate financial resources, approve annual budgets, and are accountable to the shareholders for the organization's performance. In this role they would probably review and give input on overall strategy.

    BPM, if anything, addresses how strategy is actually implemented and executed in the operations of the company. To me, this seems to fall solely in the realm of management and not in the board room. So while BPM may be a topic of interest to the board in understanding how management is meeting the objectives of the corporation, I don't think it belongs there and certainly wouldn't be the language of the boardroom.

  • This was the subject of my keynote at the BPM Europe Summit.

    "You have the attention of the CEO. What do you tell them about BPM" Answer: nothing.

    BPM is not a Boardroom issue. The results of an effective operation strategy which uses BPM approaches (and possibly technology) is a Boardroom issue.

    The challenge for every CEO is implementation of strategy as my recent article for PEX (Process Excellence) Network covered - "Why ruin a perfectly good strategy by trying to implement it" http://bit.ly/lfq8Pd

  • BPM has been a complex language inside complex applications that belong firmly in the IT arena until recent times. Growth and adaptation of the internet as a business tool is changing that paradigm very rapidly, and new, simple languages have arrived that allow BPM to move to the Board Room, but we're not completely into that mindset yet. Once BPM is on the desktop, as it now is in many companies, it is only a matter of time before the enabled generation is in the senior ranks and understands the value of simplicity and enterprise adoption.

  • Most Executives don't know how to spell BPM. In reality, they shouldn't have to know. BPM is not designed to be language for executives to understand or use. BPM is designed to help (along with other tools) to define the structure of Business Processes so that these processes can be better defined, operationalized, and standardized.

  • The answer is really pretty simple and really sad. Senior executives communicate with the Board and most board members are or were senior executives. Most senior executives don't really understand BPM and the longer term benefits of the investment and time required. Bottom line they are too focused on short term outcomes and just don't get it.

  • In short, no but an understanding of how BPM can impact objectives in the boardroom should be understood.

    The boardroom is looking at the complete picture and direction from a higher level. BPM is looking at operational and tactical approaches, so only part of the picture. BPM only needs to be translated when it's operation managers can provide useful proposals and data driven information to fuel the boards objectives.

    Translation of BPM to the board is straightforward when communication is good from the top and so the language, as it's been termed, does not need to be understood but can still provide a significant impact. When communication is not good it doesn't matter what languages/methodologies/frameworks etc are being used it's dangerous to try and utilise the impact of BPM in the boardroom without objectives being set out and communicated.

  • It’s foreign, only a few understand it and most don’t so it is not spoken. BPM has many dialects – process improvement, process re-engineering, and process analysis to include variations of slang such as process understanding, awareness, visibility, change management, and governance. If you cannot understand the language or any of it dialects you cannot begin to understand the value BPM brings to the enterprise and your customers.

    Not in total agreement with some of my colleagues – BPM should be spoken in the Board Room – key word is spoken; it involves cultural change and buy-in from the top. BPM is one of the main components of Transformation and Sustainability. Enterprise planning and strategy can only be implemented and successful with a nod from the top. Lack of knowledge and understanding makes Jack & Jill poor leaders and sets them up for a hard fall.

  • I'm concerned that, along with others here, that talking about BPM in the boardroom is too tactical. The boardroom should less concerned with how and more with the what and the why.

    Where BPM should manifest itself at the executive level is in giving real-time insight to decision makers.

    I recently had the good fortune to to speak at the National Press Club. The speaker before me, unshaven and unkempt, was complaining that he'd been up all night compiling data for the his Senator because the data he was making his decisions on and voting on was 3 months old.

    Why can't our lawmakers, and our executives, be plugged into dashboards that reflect the live situation in our organization? BPM is the best way, truly the ONLY way, to provide that. If execs aren't demanding that they are making tomorrow's choices on yesterday's news.

  • Having read the comments, this presents Boards and Senior Exec in a very poor light.

    The iPad and Cloud could change all that. We have discovered that processes running on an iPad in the Cloud suddenly get senior exec's engaged. 3 examples:

    - After the initial workshop key people are lent iPads so they can look at what was produced in the workshop and share / socialise it with the rest of the company

    - At a key sign-off meeting it felt less threatening to sit down one on one and use the iPad to go through the content that a big formal presentation http://bit.ly/fChfeH

    - In a live operations, one CEO of a major oil services company is using processes on iPad to demonstrate to his external auditors that they are compliant.

  • BPM in different guises has been around for quite a long time, and generally as a fairly operational (tactical) concept. It's also lately been used as the tag for a particular technology set, which makes it even more so.

    If viewed as a business practice, which is the approach I take with my consulting clients, then it is appropriate fodder for the boardroom. But as long as it is considered as a detail and not a strategy, it will continue to be conspicuous by its absence there.

  • The language of the boardroom is the language of business. It requires a business architecture (value streams, objectives, targets, process goals, outcomes, business terms) to communicate about the business with IT.

    BPM is a waste of time as a methodology only. In todays fast moving world business/economy and technology are inseperable. Therefore the business architecture must be embedded in technology and create top-down and bottom-up transparency.

    More: http://isismjpucher.wordpress.com/2011/05/27/the-language-of-process/

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