"Plays well with others," and perhaps sometimes, "Doesn't play
well with others," were comments that I remember from report cards growing
up, with the more negative evaluation coming the same year I spent dealing (not
terribly effectively) with a boy named Thomas who spent the majority of the year
following me around and imitating everything that I did. After a while, that kind
of behavior can get on your nerves.
However, these types of evaluations can also be applied to enterprise BPM projects
(as well as many other types of projects). The more effectively the business,
IT and project participants can "play well with others," the more
likely the BPM solution will be effective and productive.
But it takes more than the simple desire to work well with others on a BPM
project to make it effective-it requires the appropriate technical and process-oriented
support functionality. As I mentioned in my last column, it requires collaboration.
Of course, collaboration is required to keep the business and IT working together
along the same lines to try and develop a system that meets business requirements.
But even before that step, collaboration among a number of business people and
some project or IT people is needed to simply understand, discuss and "hash
out" what the existing process is and what the optimal process needs to
In many cases, the result of these collaboration requirements amounts to little
more than emails, Powerpoint slide decks or Word or Visio documents. In many
organizations, process definition and collaboration is done off-line and sequentially,
rather than on-line and collaboratively. The results are typically unstructured
in nature, with little enforcement capabilities and are often difficult to maintain
or even reference as situations and requirements change. It makes it very difficult
to have a consistent picture of what a business process should be.
In addition, few business processes are straightforward. In fact most business
processes are not well defined and not even clearly defined. Some may even have
multiple definitions, depending on who you ask or which department you talk
to. One of the challenges for organizations trying to implement business process
management solutions is gather enough information on the process and finding
a way to work together (through different geographic locations, different levels
of IT and business acumen and differing objectives or priorities) to just define
the requirements for an optimal business process.