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Where would you like to see BPM improved?

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BPM has come a long way, but where would you like to see BPM improved?

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  • I would like to see improvements in

    a) flexibility of the actual process itself and how we go about changing that definition
    b) acceptance that not all processes can be "mapped" or even follow a specific definition in some cases
    c) drastic improvements in "workshops" and how we go about collaboration
    d) the use of new technologies / concepts, such as gesture
    e) greater interopability

    Most of these are things that have been pointed out many times before, and in some solutions, are actually addressed. But in general, these are all still challenges for the majoriy of BPM analysts and BPMS

  • While in theory, it should be "simple" to layer a BPM tool on top of a SOA or Services Tool to present a services foundation layer to support the process layter, I have found in practicality to not be easy unless you are working in a single vendor stack.

    I've found portability is not as easy as advertised and its easy to get stuck in a vendor tool with little ability to move across tools or integrate other tools into your BPM tool.

    While these are more issues with vendors than BPM itself, we could push the standards towards better interoperability through better standards, similar to what we did with the EAI vendors in the 1990's towards webService standards.

  • In managing real processes.

    I see a lot of companies are doing bpm-trics with software, lean, etc, but are applying it on the wrong level of "process".

    Process is sometimes kept a little "mystic". Why? I don't like keeping things vague. A process is a "thing" with a result which you CAN steer on and which you WANT to steer on.

    So the improvement must be on "Discovery" or "Identify". Tools and methods for steering comes later in my opinion.

  • Glad that the question concerns BPM and not BPMS. There are a number of areas where an improvement is long overdue:

    * Understanding processes as a dynamic ('living') entity
    * Improving BPM skills, and just to spell it out, that means BP MANAGEMENT skills. We're still hellbent on managing drawings - sorry, process maps.
    * Understanding the value and meaning of processes to a company - in fact, processes define the company.
    * Understanding the implications of processes - good and bad.
    Whatever happens in the tool department will never have the desired effect if we don't come to grips with the WHY and just rely on the HOW.
    Processes are not abstract, they are the means by which we earn or lose money.


  • Thomas has hit the nail on the head.

    BPM needs to be seen as strategic, operational, mission critical.

    And then gets the kudos, support and funding it deserves.

  • And if I may add to Thomas and Ian ... let's start 'em young! Any Business School that wants to turn out the leaders of tomorrow has to have BPM as an integral part of the curriculum. At the root of all facets of the Business is Process, without process there is no Management. Tomorrow's graduates need to be as fluent in BPM as they are in reading a balance sheet.

  • Kevin,
    that's a very important point you're making. Maybe I'm going a bit too far here, but as most of us are creatures of habit, I think the current generation of process managers has been brought up mainly in the process modeling school of thought and finds it very difficult to change its tune.

  • If BPM is taught at MBA or similar schools you get what you teach: people who think it is all in the methodology. BPM is maybe better seen as a practice, but in reality it will only be effective and efficient through the right technology.

    BPM has been in a constant redefinition since its beginnings and while all sort of agree that it is about better organizing a business, the overall approach ist still rigidly Tayloristic, i.e. applying a manufacturing mindset to people interactions. The most recent and important improvements are by using adaptive technology to enable a social perspective for innovation.

    To use BPM for business empowerment it has to provide outcome and goals-oriented business model architecture and define authority and means (business resources and budgets). That the social innovation aspect will only be enabled through the use of technology still seems to be fuzzy to those who only promote methodology. It is really hard to make the above approach a pure paper (methodology) exercise if the BPM tool does not natively allow the architectured approach.

    Improving BPM is after all about improving the technology, or does anyone think that Apple, Google, SAP or Salesforce would be who they are if they just offered a methodology? Would you see it as an improvement if rather than a new car, all you get is a consultant in the passenger seat to tell you how to drive it better?

  • ... and to hold off the unavoidable: 'A fool with a tool is still a fool' comments.

    Would you disagree that regardless how bad drivers are (and yes, they are - despite driving being the second best thing men can do) that technology improvements in power-steering, fuel-injection, ignition-computers, ABS, hydraulic suspension, halogen head-lights, navigation systems, air-bags and seat belts have all made driving more effective and efficient. That said, it is equally important to have some principle behavorial rules such as, stay on the right, consider the signs, or stop for pedestrians that make for good people interaction.

    So yes, BPM is about a good approach but it won't happen without the right technology.

    • Some great discussions going on.

      Firstly side note: BPM is an evolving management approach; improved makes it sound static, frozen.

      I think the biggest change I would like to see is absorbed in the wider competencies and accepted norms of doing business. Almost by labelling it BPM it allows people to take positions. For me it’s just good business sense! and its about business outcomes! As I have said before the ‘BPM’ is sometimes a necessary evil because it emphases process; so easily forgotten!

      Yes I agree it should be a dimension to business degrees, MBA’s, etc. but I also agree that technology is a critical aspect, an essential enabler and pre requisite. Are the two mutally exclusive? Should we ignore it our training for business careers in the real world? Further education should continue to foster relationships with businesses and vendors to keep it real. I unfortunately might add that this seems to be skewed towards the big vendors at this stage.

      I would also like to see it percolate down to the mid-tier in a more pervasive way. Interestingly because of scale mid-tier organisations can achieve agility and time to value that most tier ones would die for. Old school mentalities generally reign with the exception of pockets of enlightened leading companies, some of which I feel fortunate to engage with. Let’s say many are the product of their training.

      And yes I would like to see those ‘business analysts’ stop analysing what to do and start analysing business performance based intelligent business operations. I still meet people who tell me they have being modelling the business and looking to start implementing results in the next few years. :( That is just not acceptable. In fact roles are changing and yet training and development in the mainstream education is not always reflecting this.

  • I like to watch the Celebrity Apprentice that regardless of the abnormalities that do, that program is much better than any MBA or management lectures. In addition to the pantomime is very clear how decisions are made to fire the celebrities based on the performance of the tasks assigned to them.

    In season four, one of the teams are Lil Jon and John Rich. Lil Jon is connected to hip-hop and rap while John Rich is a singer of country music. John Rich refers the importance of participating in reality show because working with Lil Jon result connecting two completely different artistic worlds (such as BPM and antagonists ACM) and served to unite two types of very different audiences (hip hop and country).

    During holidays I had the opportunity to be with some friends of mine, company managers, who complained about the typical flood of improvement projects. In addition to the problems of project management, these managers complained about the confusion that reigned in people's minds with the introduction of new methods, definitions, how to implement and the contradictions of the concepts. These managers did not care about these kind of projects and returned to business as usual. They said the main problem of the avalanche of new practices, changing paradigms had a very negative impact on people who did the work, i.e. those contributing to the company to progress.

    People, felt abandoned, confused, and were left in the middle of new acronyms and evolving methods that could fit under the BPM, to the point that the people we want to be more efficient and effective stop believing in everything that was under BPM.Ultimately they feel relived end the project ends.

    Over the last two years we have seen an amazing evolution of BPM, to the point who can coin more definitions than the other that mean exactly the same. While it may be interesting to consultants and philosophers, this coining process does not say nothing at all to the poor working guy.

    Thus the first thing to improve is to clarify what BPM really is. Like Lil Jon and John Rich have succeeded in combining two completely different styles of music, we should also be responsible for clarifying and bringing some light to board rooms, managers and … people.

    One last note: contrary to what Max says, BPM can be done without technology. In another life I was responsible for a manufacturing company that every day I had to find a way to produce more products. During 6 years again and again improved manufacturing cells and assembly tasks 100% without technology. It's amazing how we can improve a process without any technology.

  • “Just” a commonly-agreed BPM reference model. Of course, with a mechanism for versioning of it as BPM is evolving.


  • Alberto, thanks for your point of view. There are many views that I agree with you on, but not on this one.

    First, ACM is not antagonistic to BPM at all. I am antagonistic to the BPM illusion that a business can be hardocded into processes. Once I see that BPM is used to organize a business in an adaptive and social innovation manner, I will stop pushing. By MY definition, ACM even does everything that BPM methdology and BPMS software products do. It goes evena step further and offers the complete requirement to define outcomes, goals and rules as am embedded function of the ACM software.

    Lastly, you once again take the process improvement paradigm from manaufacturing and want to apply it for people interaction. That is the biggest fallacy of all! Yes, BPM can be done as a paper exercise, but why would you want to when in an ACM approach there is no need to do so? Just to be able to say it is possible with BPM?

    Yes, I can also navigate the seas with a compass, a sextant and paper maps and weather charts and be proud of it, but in reality any responsible captain will today much prefer a GPS-based chartplotter with real-time weather information displayed right into the maps.

    Any sensible executive with half a brain will want to electronically process empower his people to do BPM the modern way and not have them sit around in meeting rooms for years to find some 'theoretically ideal' process. Adaptive technology providing social innovation will get there much faster. I am sorry but you are simply missing the boat by not focusing on technology ... literally.

    • Max:

      I do not want to push improvement methods for manufacturing processes to social collaboration because generally they are useless. By the way, this is one of the major flaws the community, like you once say in a post, likes to spend time writing to get recognition, medals and awards, forgetting that it can mislead to rock bottom results. I mean lets use lean for everything – to improve an release supplier invoices for payment, manufacturing cells, well let’s invent lean CRM, or lets implement ACM intelligent manufacturing cells.

      I’m sorry but Business Process Management ultimate goal is to improve processes over and over again, and on particular manufacturing processes, despite the availability of systems than can carry simulations to increase throughput, all the work to reduce one second on an assembly activity, executed hundreds of time a day, contributing to increase in the end of the year the quantity of products delivered are based on problem solving techniques and not by system automation.

      The key point I want previously to express is all about the people, I should say that when I written the post on ebizQ I was tempted to talk about semantics, subject I will return when I have time to translate the article, but today people are confused, full of jargon and confusing ideas that do not understand what BPM is all about. For some is evil.

  • On the comment Max made earlier:
    The thinking behind BPM and BPMS has been flawed from the beginning by the attitude that once you design a process and put it into operation, you are actually setting a mark the world around has to accept and follow.

    The opposite is true. Markets and customers define expectations on processes. That again may lead to some processes following BPM methods and technologies, other processes will be more of an ACM type.

    And yes, technology is important, but as a means only. 'Til now it's more a case of "Have BPMS - Me Good" :-)

    The recent blog post by Connie Moore had it right when she asked: "What will business processes look like in 2020?" Improvements on BPM, technology, ACM etc. will need to follow the processes and serve as enablers and not the other way around.

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