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As I noted in a "BPM in Action" blog post, Connie Moore of Forrester Research has provided a fascinating and comprehensive description of an emerging job function: that of the business process management professional. In a follow-up interview, Moore shared additional insights about the evolution of this new career field. A condensed version of our conversation follows:

Q: Let's set the scene. What's the history behind the rise of the BPM professional?

A: There's been this steady drumbeat, starting in the '90s with [Michael] Hammer and [James] Champy and the business process re-engineering effort. A lot of those efforts failed for all sorts of reasons--but the concepts were good. In the next decade, people were still working on process improvement-continuous process improvement. By this point, there was also a great alignment with technology. In the technology world, you had SOA coming on board and IT executives beginning to realize that managing business processes was a great way to get their SOA kick-started.



Q: What's happening to drive it these days-and who's doing the driving?

A: Another big catalyst has been that a lot of organizations are doing business-transformation projects. The companies we engage with frequently all have business-transformation initiatives…And these projects are being led by C-level executives. Sometimes it's led by a CIO who's becoming more business-y. I know one CIO who is now CIO and Chief Process Officer. All this has created tremendous demand for people who know about business process management.

Q: You've said that BPM professionals live "at the intersection of business and technology." What distinguishes them from other IT and business executives?

A: A BPM pro has to be a "T-shaped person." If the person had a technology background, the vertical part of the T might be a computer science degree and maybe the horizontal part is an MBA. Or maybe the person started in IT, but, over time, became more and more business-facing. You can flip the T around for someone who's very business-oriented, maybe with an undergraduate degree in business, but who's very technology-oriented, and on the job, became more and more involved in technology.

No matter where they came from, they need to blend those skills and talk business and technology equally well.

Q: Specifically, what kind of skills do BPM professionals need?

It depends on who they are. [Editor's note: Forrester has identified five categories, or cohorts, for BPM professionals; here, Moore discusses three of them.]

The change agent is at the top; that person needs to have a really good rapport with business executives and be able to talk about business problems in a very business-oriented way….One COO said that the change agent is on an eternal quest to get funding and deliver business results. [Gurus, or business architects] need a big picture point of view…They see not just the individual processes, but how the different projects play together. Prodigies…really have an affinity for modeling. They can model the business processes and go deep on them. They have a computing background or some computing training, but they also need to understand the business processes.

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