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Do we need a new definition for BPM?

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The forum discussion on Is BPM dead? seemed to conclude that while BPM is certainly not dead, it is changing and evolving.  So do we need a new definition for BPM?  If so, what should it be?

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  • Like the definition of a process; there are millions of them, but they don't help you identify your processes.

    So I don't think we need a new definition for BPM, but we have to make clear how to do it. What it is is already in the name; Managing your organization by process.

    And as I believe every process is unique and needs it;'s own level of steering it is more important that we help organizations to discover and implement that.

    No new definition will help you by that. BPM is the end result, we have to define the road.

  • It needs a bit more of a nip and tuck and for some of the seemingly constant need for jargon to stop.


    I challenge anyone to read the Gartner report and make sense of it, or better yet show it to a client who has yet to embark on the BPM journey and watch them turn from the path in bewilderment.....

  • The biggest issue for BPM definition is the constant battle between 'methodology' and 'software' in ownership of the acronym and the understanding of what is meant by it at any one time.

    I think we already have plenty of definitions for BPM software, many of them invented by software vendors to help them differentiate their products.

    The tech analysts have spent many years helping the vendors commoditize themselves in a race to the bottom, and users have constantly pushed their unique requirements back into the mix. So BPM software definitions are not fixed, but evolving as they should be with an 'undead' technology.

    The same could be said for BPM methodologies, where differentiation is still a big focus, but the reality remains two-pronged: improvement and efficiency (oh, call it removal of waste).

    Don't change the definition for BPM for the sake of it, until BPM really is dead. In which case the vendors and practitioners will change the definition to make BPM seem fresh and new again.

  • I don't know how the community is feeling about this endless tiring debate, I apologize for the disturbance but if BPM professionals, practitioners, vendors, want to be taken seriously we should avoid this topic. does not bring any value.

    Seems like the constant friction between wine bloggers and wine critics. Who is best? Who have less interest conflicts? Who have access to the best sources? Who is independent? Who is credible? Who have more reputation?

    If we constantly try to set a common background what BPM is all about, without any sign why we need to update the concept, how do we want to be taken seriously?

    For many times, too many I should say, we are questioning the B, the P and the M. The foundation of BPM keeps solid and keep evolving over time. it's about evolution not the purpose.

    Some of the confusion about BPM is due the vast, immense tribes that exist around the management philosophy. Some of them calling themselves the responsibility to be a true and better approach to support the change effort and adapt business processes.

    On the other hand, some of these movements have become so specialized in certain areas and where not able to adapt to changing business environment that started to be considered outdated by the community or by new entrants, that tries to differentiate from the whole BPM concept.

    One of other the greatest mistakes regarding concepts is to say that BPM equals BPMS, ACMS, XXXS the information system used for process execution, when we know that a system alone does not have the capacity to think and define enterprise architecture and decide when to change process because it fails to comply with the intended results to be achieved.

    This is and will ever be a human decision.

    Cherie Wilkins once told "If the experts cannot agree what a process is all about ..."

  • Trying to define BPM is like trying to describe a sunset. Each one is different, the longer you watch the more fabulous they become and the best part of sunsets is ... experiencing them.

    Let's not worry about the definition, and be bound by it's limitations, let's do BPM, let's experience BPM and see where it takes us.

  • Seems like we all are agreeing more and more on this forum ;-)

  • We do not need a new definition for BPM but we do need a standard methodology, which allows multiple tools and techniques.

  • I am always amazed on the different view that BPM consultants and BPM vendors have. It seems that we are working in 2 very different markets. It seems that the BPM consultants are really struggling to sell their version of BPM to businesses and are therefor calling BPM dead. It might be the case for their version.

    We find that smart CEOs, CFOs, COOs and CIOs understand the value of supporting their business operations (that rely heavily on processes that work) with process tools that enable better business. They are not buying BPM from us.

    They understand that knowledge work is like the rise of social tools and mobility in the enterprise. It is there, it’s not going away and they need to deal with it. Knowledge work is fueled by increased support for social interactions in work and the adoption of technology in organizations. How much time do you spend per day in “always on” mode? The “Draw Something” mobile app phenomenon (1 million users in 9 days, it took AOL 9 years to get that) is living proof that we want technology enable social collaboration.

    Technology will play an increasing role in supporting BPM but the nature of work is changing. It is more unstructured and relies on knowledge workers making human decisions. This is something that is hard to put in a conventional workflow diagram. This way of work (business processes) requires better information during the decision-making process, hence the rise of embeddable BI in processes, predictive analytics as “next best actions” and dynamic process goals to enable better decisions.

    This is a different BPM (Gartner calls it Intelligent Business Operations) and requires a change in thinking. We’ve had discussions with consulting companies where they recognize the need to change their BPM methodologies to align with the requirements of the CXOs - to have more intelligent operations for knowledge style work.

    So the old BPM may be dead and the new BPM needs to be supported by technology. Not because of BPM vendors, but because our lives are digital and we expect to have digital self-service BPM for work and personal processes.

    We can call it IBO (Intelligent Business Operations) if it makes it easier to explain, but it remains the next evolution of work processes.

  • BPM is dead because it has been overworked to death. There are too many conflicting definitions,

    We need to focus on what companies are doing that gives them the results they need supported by better processes.

    For example "Shared Services Transformation". At the heart of it is business process management / business process mapping / business process modeling (or whatever BPM stands for). But the clients aren't worried about BPM. It is what BPM is giving them that they want to get excited and shout about.

    Here is a short video example from BAE Systems. Note the seniority of the people getting passionate about process http://www.nimbuspartners.com/nimbus-tv/clients/bae-systems

    Surely this is where the debate should be going?

    • Ian,

      I agree. People are interested in the outcomes of BPM, not what we care to call it. We've even used "Intelligent Reputation Management", "Intelligent Customer Retention" and various other descriptions. It is fundamentally BPM but the customer is buying the outcome. They buy the ability to manage and achieve the operational goals, which is to increase shareholder value. That remains at the heart of what they want (need) to do and that is what CXOs are willing to invest in.

      If you sell anything else as BPM then you are in a dead-end for your definition of BPM

  • user-pic

    When no one attends a single BPM conference, when vendors remove the P from their software stack, when businesses are perfectly organized in chaos, when this forum is closed down, and when we're unemployed ... then BPM is dead.

  • Love the discussion. I have always said that there are endless variety of ways to structure an organization, and it should not be surprising that BPM, which attempts to codify and improve those structures should have variety as well. The only surprise to me is in wondering why anyone ever thought there should be only one approach. Kevin put it aptly; organizations and their supporting technologies are like sunsets.

    BPM has always been a confused term: a methodology; a style of programming; server to server messaging; human interaction modeling; collaboration around work; non-collaborative flow of forms, etc.

    It is not that better definition is needed, rather we need different labels to these different approaches. I have found surprising resistance to the accurate labeling.

    We are now nearly two years from publishing "Mastering the Unpredictable" which attempts to clarify a specific type of work (knowledge work) and the support needed for that (ACM). I have been told countless times by analysis, vendors, and pundits that ACM is just the same thing as BPM. Nonsense!

    This is the problem: believing that there is a single core concept at the center of all human organizational behavior. There are a multitude of styles of coordination, and our job as the leaders in this field are to identify and label the different approaches to support, not argue that all approaches are included under the one label we already have.

    There you have it: BPM was loved to death -- smothered by good intentions. And yet lives on.

  • The only important aspect of BPM is the business. The more BPM (or whatever it is called) delivers value to the business the longer it stays. Every other discussion is a variable to the cause.

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