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Does the BPM industry need more technologies or more applied expertise?

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From Anatoly Belychook: We (BPM professionals) must target tougher tasks to be taken seriously by businesses beyond finance, services and Internet. So to do that, does the BPM industry need more technologies or more applied knowledge?

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  • I think what's needed is for BPM Professionals to embrace more modern ways of applying their knowledge and expertise instead of quoting Drucker all the time. Seriously, is Lean and Six Sigma all we can do after decades of practice and research ? We are entering an age where 'Internet of Things' is becoming a scary reality and process platforms, applications and process thinking is now looking at connected devices and how they are embedded into business process and yet we still scratch around looking for Black Belts and DMAIC books.

    BPM doesn't need 'more' technology per se, it just needs to understand the technology that already exists and is emerging, how it fits into the enterprise puzzle and how it (as an industry, software and practice) slots in that puzzle.

  • Hands down, by far and away, expertise. On the part of both the individuals capturing the processes and those defining the solutions.

    Have lost track over the years of how many bad implementations I've seen, particularly at the large organization enterprise scale, where the lack of three simple words accounted for the results, or lack thereof - "subject matter expertise."

    Lean, 6 Sigma or the process modeling cowboys I see coming my way I head the other direction.

  • Absolutely more applied expertise! While I agree with Theo in terms of more modern methods and like other professionals have created my own approach based on an amalgamation of methods - a methodical approach and alignment to business goals is required. Too many BPM initiatives end up treated as one off IT projects and not business improvement programs.

    On the technology front - "better not bigger" should be the goal. Rather than continuing to add more and more functionality to the existing solutions the focus should be on improving ease of use and speed of implementation.

  • BPM projects become the domain of business users not IT. The supporting technology needs to reflect this - no coders required for custom digitisation of any process. IT remains in support for secure delivery of data.

    External help and mentoring driven by commonsense in plain English working with users to establish the best away to achieve the required outcomes - no barriers to thinking; in this respect "applied expertise" becomes simpler with emphasis on people and good listening skills.

    "Adaptive" will be a key requirement so technologies will just get smarter and quicker. Eventually users will regain trust in software to help them at work and might even to be brave enough to implement process change themselves?

  • BPM in general (with all it's techniques) is easy and means nothing. I can talk for ages about BPM, but it will only make sense in the context of a certain industry or certain processes.

    So those techniques must be applied (let's use the word...) 'adaptive'. I've seen well paid consultants applying techniques of which my cat could tell they will never work for that type of processes. But probably it was the only trick they knew.

    So absolutely expertise. Expertise to apply that load of techniques, methods etc where they might have a positive impact.

    And that needs the will to learn from each other in the BPM industry. What worked well, what did you experience?

    Sometimes you are the coach, other times you are the coachee.

    Helping each other...I'm glad you don't need a BPSHDJHS certificate or belt for that.

  • Thanks for bringing light to this issue, Peter.

    Let me explain my concerns in some details:
    - most publicly available BPM references originate from few industries: finance, telco probably cover 90% of available references
    - a typical reference process is a simple workflow

    I can see how it turns off prospects assessing BPM. People from manufacturing are interested in multi-staged (quarterly-monthly-weekly-daily cycles) enterprise-wide resource planning - the task that ERP promised to solve but didn't fully succeeded because of heavy process dimension intrinsic to the task. People from retail need solid distribution and SCM processes. And so on...

    Our PoCs are often misleading: we tend to pick a simplistic process like the (un)famous "vacation request" and BPM technology works fine there. Yet the process tasks I mentioned are much more complicated and need very different modeling and implementation techniques but there is very little or no at all information on how to approach. Hence a high risk of failure and disappointment in BPM.

    Are you aware of researches on how to apply BPM to typical end-to-end processes in manufacturing, transportation, energy? Sure there are experienced consultants for every industry but are there professional in BPM? There are respectful BPM professionals on the other hand but do they have enough knowledge of industrial-specific tasks?

    Yet another gap?

    The time of low-hanging fruits is over I'm afraid, customers expect deeper applied knowledge from BPM pros yet what they get is mostly words about technology - more and more BPM technology every year.

  • Neither.

    What this industry needs is to slowly start working itself out of business.

    Let the people doing BPMN with triple-digit symbol sets go live over in IT. There's too great a chasm between the everyday business person and the BPM expert (nee, IT expert) doing deep, deep BPMN models.

    Let the people doing BPMN models with standard flowchart boxes become business and process owners themselves.

    Let the people who manage those making BPMN models and those building solutions based on them focus on what's really imporatant - the vision and strategy to keep the business a going concern.

    If we as practitioners can focus on enabling the C-suite using process, reducing the effort we all spend managing processes, then BPM will have succeeded as a methodology, practice, theory, or whatever you wish to call it.

  • With whatever we have seen in the last few decades with databases, packaged applications and so on, I see BPM as technology taking us closer to "applied technology" than ever. So it takes applied expertise AND the right technology...

  • Jaisundar - spot on!

    Unless one believes we are at the end of history, technology will continue to evolve - we should welcome that (lest we reveal a vested interest in status quo).

    Declarative Model-driven application development technologies should facilitates the fusion of system and methods. Hopefully we'll progress from less perfect to more so.

  • By and large, Theo nailed it. We need better understanding of how to leverage the technology. Our existing formalisms—BPMN, DMAIC, OpEx, etc.—are outdated.

    That said, there's still room for the technology to improve. But the benefits of that improvement will be hard to realize if we're still stuck in the process modeling techniques of the mid-20th century.

  • Interesting discussion, organizations cross industrial verticals are transforming from industrial speed into digital speed, so both BPM talent/expertise and lightweight digital technology are needed to accelerate such shift.

    BPM talent will understand business picture, with capability to adapt to changes, as process underpins business capacities; thus, the goal of BPM is not just to automate process, but also optimize process and look at process through innovation perspective, or outside-in customer-centric POV.

    BPM technology continue to integrate with latest digital technology trend, such as social, cloud, mobile, be more agile and cost-effective.

  • "...how it [BPM] fits into the enterprise puzzle..."
    "Expertise to apply that load of techniques,..."
    "...applied technology..."
    "...attach the BPM solutions architect..."

    It seems that the real need is a proper architecture not technologies and/or applied experience.


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