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Do we need a new name for BPM?

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As BPM continues to grow and change, do we need a new name for BPM?  If so, what do you think it should be?

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  • I wrote about this in 2010, you can get an appreciation for the responses in the comments....nothing changes 3 years on.


    Also timely as Neil Ward-Dutton posted on this subject today, albeit from a different angle, as in how do we define BPM given it's still a confused acronym to a lot of people.

    BPM will be BPM no matter what happens. Analysts will come and go along with the latest buzzwords they create to sell a report (seriously, 'engagification' ?!)
    Look at CRM, it's survived all manner of attempts to rename it but it always falls back to the term that people are comfortable relating to. BPM is no different.

    What will change though is how BPM is defined and what is included under the umbrella term. For example, Case Management continues to try and break out on its own but it's just a subset of BPM overall. Same for Lean/ Six Sigma, they are just tools within the BPM rucksack we carry as professionals.

    It's just BPM. Forget about the name, concentrate on what it means to people.

  • Theo suggests that case management is a part of BPM. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but that is a symptom of problem: people use BPM to mean too many things.

    I have counted seven different things that people use the name BPM to mean. Some readers will see these as sub categories of the BPM umbrella, others will define one of these categories as "the real BPM". These are, however, distinct categories of use:

    1. Management of Business Processes (MoBP)
    2. Business Process Analysis (BPA)
    3. Process Driven Server Integration (PDSI)
    4. Human Process Management Systems (HPM)
    5. Production Case Management Systems (PCM)
    6. Adaptive Case Management Systems (ACM)
    7. Social Content Management Systems (SCM)

    see: http://social-biz.org/2012/04/25/not-to-praise-bpm-but-to-bury-it/ for the definitions.

    I don't pretend to suggest that these acronyms will stick on the categories ... so please check the post for updates when other terms come into vogue. However, I am confident that you will continue to have products that focus on these specific niches, and you will have customers who wish to purchase with a focus on one niche.

  • I am with Theo. Next Buzzword please! How about we start one here. Idea's please. Here's some;

    CSPI - Common Sense Process Improvements
    STO - Stating the Obvious

    But on my favorite theme which is the hot topic of Process monitoring / improvement during the Recession;

    MPME - Make People More Efficient
    EMT - Eliminate Manual Tasks (Desktop Automation)
    or BWTW (Better Way to Work)
    BIGGER - Business Intelligence Goes Global Enlightening Redundancy
    BTWM - Better Way to Manage (Desktop Analytics)

  • Three years on, the questions rage on... I wonder what really prompts the renaming. We don't rename Project Management, or Marketing, or Finance.

    Couldn't resist, so many ways to answer this -






    The new techniques and technology enabled solutions can keep coming up, more specifically defined niches may keep propping up, but let's not worry about renaming bit....

  • If anything is needed it is reminder that "BPM" is a discipline, an approach which puts people and their work process as the priority to help improve operation efficiency.

    I agree with Keith on the categories that have emerged as "products" supporting BPM initiatives.

    However the real issue is how vendors build their software products not just what they build. I am working on some key questions - something likes of Gartner should be doing to help buyers make the good decisions? But when 25% of your revenue comes from vendors....?

  • From the perspective of modern empowered, social collaboration, the command-and-control oriented BPM concept and therefore related methdology and discipline is utterly outdated. If you need a strict discipline to keep something alive then it is doomed in any case. It won't be able to go with the times.

    We could do with something that is not a TLA and I did suggest some time ago 'Adaptive Process'. The other aspect has to do with the necessity to converge non-ERP functionality of ECM, CRM and CXM into a 'System of Engagement' and that will include adaptive, goal-oriented processes and support them in a Mobile-Social-Cloud.

    So there is no need to change the name of BPM. It will simply go away.

  • Max is missing the point. I agree that the adaptive process is what is now needed but BPM is the discipline to arrive at such a product. For years IT has promoted “command and control” to the detriment of all (except incompetent managers!). Adaptive Applications will change all that as it puts people first by addressing their formal and the informal needs as agreed with enlightened manages and users.

    It is the dynamic combination of empowerment and measurement that can bring to life a new generation of supporting operational applications. All sounds like BPM thinking to me? Just because some vendors deliver old style rigid processes does not remove the relevance of “BPM”…. they will need to change…..? Allowing BPM to disappear will allow the big vendors to wind up more “FUD" and stay “in control”?

  • In stead of changing the name, take the energy for a name change to continue to promote BPM and the benefits to business. A name change will only confuse and will do little for a methodology still in the infant stage of acceptance.

  • As Keith noted “people use BPM to mean too many things,” and that is a problem. BPM is fine as long as people apply it to business process management. Of course like most things everything it needs context such as whether the individual is referring to the discipline or the technology.

    I do however have to take issue with Theo’s assertion that Case Management is “…just a subset of BPM overall.” To my thinking BPM and Case Management (and we are talking technology now) are equals that lie at opposite ends of a single spectrum. Most systems however lie somewhere in between with some being more process centric and others being more case, or data centric BPM sees “processes” as strategic assets of an organization that must be understood, managed, and improved to deliver value-added products and services to clients. Therefore BPM’s value is in the continual maturing of processes to the benefit of the business.

    In contrast, Case Management, views a “case” and its associated data as a strategic asset which must be guided, coordinated, and ruled upon, to deliver added value. Case Management’s value is in delivering an appropriate outcome for each case.

    Similarly in building a BPM system one should start by mapping out the processes. With a case management system, because the case is the core item of value, and a case is itself data or information-centric, one should take a data-first approach to engagement and system design. My colleague recently wrote a blog post on how the two systems are modeled that you may find of interest: http://www.micropact.com/blog/detail/what-is-bpm-what-is-case-management-part-3/

  • Well it is certainly true that their is already confusion, and as an industry we have a tendency to make things worse not better. Those who know me, know that I am very much in the BPM is a discipline camp. But our friends in India made things even worse for us at the end of last year, by agreeing to rename their BPO industry to the BPM industry! So now we have even greater confusion, and these guys are not talking about the discipline or the technology, but simply the outsourcing of tasks and activities - small wonder that most execs cringe at the very mention of BPM - I once wrote that BPM is too confusing to be taken seriously - that was over 7 years ago, and instead of getting better we are still making things worse.

    Best advice, change the conversation, don't mention BPM or BPMS, simply stick to plain language - what's your problem, how's it a problem for you, what will happen if it is not addressed, then switch to the we can help and simply solve their problem for them, with or without technology, using the best approach you know how.

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