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EDITOR'S NOTE: In this Q & A, ebizQ's Peter Schooff talks with Steve Weissman, principal analyst at the Holly Group, a consulting firm specializing in content, process and information management. The two discuss using BPM to enhance enterprise content management (ECM).

PS: What are the advantages of using BPM for ECM?

SW: Most of the brochureware and websites, and even some of the analyst writings, talk about the typical hackneyed stuff such as "It saves time, lowers costs, improves efficiency, boosts customer service and saves the whales!" All of which—except for the last part—is actually true.

For me, the advantage of joining BPM and ECM is how you can mask so much of the complexity of your business processes. You can automate the delivery of information on time and in context. That lets people focus on the work that they need to do without worrying about what's happening around them. Presumably, the system notifies them if there's a problem, so they can take care of the tasks at hand without worrying about what [another employee] might be doing before or after they even get ahold of the thing.

PS: How should newcomers to this idea think about using BPM for ECM?

SW: The first thing is not to think too much about what you're reading, which may sound counterintuitive. But there are so many acronyms and technologies and adjectives flying around that I like to try to demystify it up front and break it down to the most fundamental pieces.

In terms of simplicity, I like to use this metaphor: Think of BPM almost as a substrate material, a medium, a carrier. It's carrying the ECM content from one place to another, or from this place to other places, according to some business rules, or from people to people.

I recently blogged [this question]: "Which comes first, the process or the content?" I evidently struck a nerve because I'm still getting responses. The consensus answer seems to be: Both. The process and the content have sort of come along together.

There are pretty good arguments that some people are making about why one or the other should be done first. My view is that you've got to consider them in parallel because each needs the other to provide maximum total value to your organization.


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