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This article will address the topic of the origins of Business Process Management (BPM) relating its origins back to Darwin's Theory of Evolution. What has unfolded over the years is that BPM has evolved in two parallel paths namely Business and Technology. From a business perspective it has evolved from Total Quality Management (TQM), then Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) and finally Business Process Management, whilst from a technology perspective it has evolved from standalone applications (and here I have grouped imaging applications), to workflow applications and finally to Business Process Management Suites (BPMS).

These two parallel evolutions have finally been brought together by the missing link, model driven architecture, where we now find from a modeled business process one is able to produce a pre-configured application that meets 80% to 90% of the business requirements -- the other 10% to 20% requiring a leverage of existing assets and integration into the organizations line of business systems.

We will begin with the business evolution and start with TQM which had its beginnings before the industrial revolution when we had skilled craftsmen who conducted both the manufacturing and inspection roles. With the onset of the industrial revolution mass production was critical, and decomposition enabled production efficiency. As a result of this statistical approaches to quality control began being adopted with one of the outcomes being the separation of the manufacturing and inspection roles.

After World War II two of the pioneers of TQM moved to Japan where they were able to convince top managers of the importance of quality control. For the next 20 years USA focused on marketing, production quantity and financial performance, while Japanese managers improved quality at an unprecedented rate. Very soon Japanese products were preferred over American products -- started the quality revolution in the early 1980's.

The quality revolution gave birth to the term Total Quality Management with the integration of quality principals into organization management systems. In the early 1990's quality management principles started finding their way into the service industry with the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and FedEx being the early adopters.


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