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Editor's Note: In this two-part interview, ebizQ Contributing Editor Peter Schooff continues a wide-ranging conversation about BPM issues with Neil Ward-Dutton, co-founder and research director of MWD Advisors. Ward-Dutton, a regular contributor to the ebizQ Forum, is among Europe's best-known IT industry analysts. In Part I, the two discussed BPM business and technology tips and trends. Here, in Part II, Ward-Dutton shares insights and tips about process-improvement success and a peek at BPM’s possible future.

PS: What would you say are some of the key characteristics of companies successfully adopting BPM?

NWD: I already alluded to this a little [in Part I] because I was talking about recognition of the fact that there has to be some kind of organizational and cultural change involved. That's one of the big themes that we see.

But to get into some details, of the things that come up again and again and again, No. 1 would have to be having a collaborative approach between technology people—and they could be in-house, or they might be external contractors, or sometimes they may actually be both--and non-technical people—the people who have the problem. [Participants in the latter group could range from business analysts to sales- or marketing-team members to operations employees to HR employees.]

This is a collaborative exercise that brings people across the business-IT divide together in very close quarters. The people who really seem to make this stuff fly are the people who build integrated teams. In many cases, they physically co-locate them as they work. [The message is:] "This is a specific team. You guys are not sitting in your normal desks. You're going to go and sit somewhere else, and you're going to work together on this. It's not 'business and IT,' it's a project team that is solving a problem." That has—or seems to, anyway--have a massive effect on the outcome.

But that's not the only thing. Obviously, you have to have decent technology and tools, and you have to be prepared to put in the time to learn how to use them properly. It's also really important to have senior sponsorship, not because you're necessarily going to be spending huge megabucks, because you may not be—there are ways to get started in quite a modest way, financially. It's because to make real change, you're going to need to ruffle some feathers. Unless you have that senior sponsorship, it's difficult to make that happen, difficult to get all the right people to sign off on making those kinds of changes.


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