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Editor's Note: This is the second in a series of articles examining BPM trends that affect various groups of process participants. This part examines trends affecting process managers. Part I examined issues affecting process builders, while Part III focuses on process participants.

Managers are driven primarily by the need to get things done. Technology can help managers achieve their goals-or it can just get in the way. In the BPM world, technology was often more likely to hinder success than enable it-at least, until now.

In the past, several factors seriously limited BPM's value to managers. Historically, BPM produced designs that failed to reflect the nature of real-world processes. Instead, it typically yielded eitherover-engineered and unwieldy snapshots, or designs that were intended to be flexible but ended up static.

The over-engineered perspective is driven by the inherently false assumption that we can actually define all of a process's alternate routes, flows and behaviors into a model. This results in complexity and inflexibility. It forces managers to struggle with workarounds because it's impossible to design into the model how work really gets done-and how it changes.

Conversely, the idea of flexible process models that are adapted as we go--ideally changed by the very managers in charge of a given process--has failed miserably. It's a great concept, but regardless of what tools are available, managers are typically unwilling or uninterested in regularly updated processes in a process-design environment. Managers are not builders, and the tools for builders aren't the right tools for managers no matter how simple we make them.

In addition, BPM has historically failed to give managers the information and process transparency that they need. A caveat: This statement is technically false while being functionally true. The problem isn't the result of a lack of available information from BPM software. Instead, it's that managers don't receive the right information, in the right format, at the right time, presented in a way that makes it easier for them to get their work done.

Put another way, a collection of 150 prepackaged reports might contain key information that a manager needs-but who's going to dig through that big mess to find it? Managers want the information they need when they need it, without having to engage in an Easter egg hunt.


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