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I, along with many of my fellow BPM and BI industry observers, are apparently increasingly finding the same kinds of things. One of the most prevalent of these: business processes are difficult if not impossible to manage if there are no formal processes (not to mention useful tools) in place to capture and document said business processes.

And beyond capture, there's documenting, which includes all of the links connecting all of the key processes with their sub-processes and supporting IT processes and tools. Then there's achieving consensus on the priorities and importance of the most strategic processes. And managing and maintaining up-to-date information about all of the above. And this is all just top-line, broad-brush stuff. All of these things get recapitulated repeatedly as decision-makers and their teams drill further down into this morass.

Now, there are several really good tools to help with all of this – but those tools are without business value until and unless they are accompanied, supported, and surrounded by strong, repeatable, well-documented processes. Such processes are even necessary to identify, compare, and select candidate solutions and vendors, and to manage relationships effectively with those vendors that get chosen.

What all of this means is that effectively, every business task and decision ought to start from a process-centric foundation, to be consistent with corporate policies and goals, and to be easy to repeat and scale as necessary. Which brings us back to the "first principles" I mentioned previously.

In the field of content and intellectual property management, one of the most persistent and pervasive problems is information capture. That is to say, it's relatively easy to impose content management rules and tools on newly created, electronic content. The real sticky challenges come with trying to impose those rules and tools on already-existing (often paper) information. It's difficult to do, but if it's not done, content management is inconsistent, creating all kinds of risks and opportunities for error.

The same thing is true with process management. Until and unless it is sufficiently pervasive, ubiquitous, and invisible to users, it will not be applied equally to every resource, task, and user, creating significant opportunities for operational, technological, and other business risks. This is, in essence, the "first-mile" problem that bedevils and challenges many if not most efforts at business analysis, business intelligence (BI), BPM, and what I and others refer to as business knowledge management (BKM).


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