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As promised in a recent Around the Web article on ebizQ, it's time to have a little fun with terminology. I am not sure why but the meaning of terms like business process management (BPM) and business process automation (BPA) and business process re-engineering (BPR) seem to be debatable again this year despite the fact that they have been around for 10-, 20- 40- and according to one source I interviewed in December 2008, over 100 years.

This latest trip around the buzzword track is courtesy of Global 360 but no disrespect is intended no matter what I end up saying below. As this recent blog post indicated, I am an admirer of Global 360's marketing and was pleased to be included as a judge in their recent user-case-study analysis (results to be announced soon).

The Global 360 author is quick to admit to the confusion between "our BPM" and "their BPM." The pendulum swings back and forth on that one.

Going to the heart of the matter, Global 360 steps into the suite trap. Are BPMSs the only kind of BPM? And it votes that BPA stands for BP analysis and not BP automation. It rightfully says SOA is a good way to build a BPMS, but is careful to not say it's the only way. The document also rightfully states:

"The technologies known today as BPM suites came from at least two different original sources: workflow systems and integration tools."

As this diagram that we use to illustrate BPM history here at ebizQ shows, we count at least a half-dozen sources.

Two good pieces of advice in the document include:

  • "Don't get bogged down in architectural discussions."
  • "Put some thought into what comes next. Many times BPM software is bought for a single project without regard to a larger BPM initiative at a company. In particular, reporting and process monitoring technologies get left by the wayside because their added initial expense may be harder to justify for the first project. However, these BPM add-ons pay huge dividends as processes are improved over time and new processes are automated. Be sure to consider them carefully as part of your initial investment."


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