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Tech for Tomorrow

Doug Mow

BPM Benefits: Myth or Reality?

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I received a lot of comments about my tweets from the BPM Summit in London last week.  A lot of people said that the content was pretty basic.  The information being delivered was all common sense.  You're all correct.

While the BPM communities are looking for advanced use cases and Star Wars applications, the truth is most organizations are struggling with BPM implementations.  And, most of the time, the reasons are organizational, cultural, and procedural.  I've worked for plenty of companies that couldn't plan lunch.  As I've stated in previous posts, even the most advanced BPM technologies won't help them.

Many discussions debated the complexity of BPM application implementation compared to other IT implementations like CRM and ERP.  The automation of cross-functional, cross-departmental processes certainly adds some elements of difficulty.  But if you step back and look at the tremendous hype around BPM, most projects carry increased burdens.  They have to meet IT project success expectations, BPM technology expectations and business outcome expectations.  That's almost too much for any project to bear and be successful.  Gartner calls that the "Trough of Disillusionment."  What do you think?  Are expectations unrealistic?

I also spoke to Gartner analyst Jim Sinur (@jimsinur) about the difference between US-based BPM projects and European/UK-based BPM initiatives.  He said his impression was that the US projects are looking for quick wins - "in and out."  Projects are sometimes hastily planned and executed.  European and UK-based initiatives are more deliberate, looking for longer term gain.
Next up, enterprise 2.0 and leveraging advanced web 2.0 and collaboration technologies to build stronger, more competitive companies.  I will be live at the Gartner PCC show in Baltimore (March 9-11).  Stay tuned for more posts as I dive into the biggest topics of the show.  For real-time updates, you can follow me on Twitter @DougMow or tune in with the hashtag #GartnerPCC.


Doug, I agree that expectations are often unrealistic. Companies that could not plan lunch should not see BPM technology as a magic bullet. It can not fix the behaviors of your leaders, the chaos of an organization, or the delicate operation of a core system.

I agree with Jim Sinur's comparison of European and US projects - this was the first thing that hit me when I came to work in the US.

When first introducing process improvement concepts into an organization, it may not be bad to get some quick wins with fast and cheap projects. They build consensus and support, and they allow companies to generate a baseline from which they can build. Over-planning complex BPM in a company that still shuffles paper is going to lead to significant wasted effort and missed opportunities.

Only by trying "something" does a company find out the effect it will have on the organization, and may actually highlight other areas they should be investing, such as leadership and organizational development. Process change may not fix everything, as simple process improvement projects reveal alternative pain points.

Phil Ayres

Agree, Phil. "Trying something" by another name would be Agile and iterative. Something that will prove to be very beneficial to BPM initiatives. Thanks for the comment.

Doug Mow blogs from a business executive's perspective about IT trends, tech news and life in the trenches of an Enterprise 2.0 transformation.

Doug Mow

#CMO of Courion Corporation responsible for all branding, communications, messaging, online and offline marketing. Courion is the leading provider of access management tools that provide maximum access to corporate IT assets with minimal risk.

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