Eliminating the Execution Gap

Learning is the difference between what you know now and what you’ll know in the future. It extends your current perceptions, knowledge and thought processes through the addition of new information and transforms the current state of a person or organization to a new—theoretically smarter or more intelligent—state. For most organizations today, learning is an important part of keeping ahead of business challenges, enabling organizations to find more efficient ways of doing things and enabling them to become better at identifying new product or service opportunities.

For organizations that are under the strain of meeting higher productivity, revenue, and execution expectations while their underlying resources such as budgets and personnel are being cut, learning how to improve their processes is critical. Making existing processes more effective and efficient, understanding how to monitor and manage the business metrics associated with business processes, and finding ways to implement, modify, or extend processes effectively are important ways for organizations to meeting these types of business challenges.

One of the big issues, however, is that constant change causes management decisions and changes in policies to outpace the existing operations and systems. New business requirements, new regulatory requirements, changes in business operation are typically difficult to tie directly to existing IT systems and applications. The lag between what what’s needed now and what the IT systems and automated business processes can deliver is called an “execution gap.”

Execution gaps can be particularly troublesome in certain situations. For example, organizations undergoing high growth often have trouble and serious lag times between their need for new process components or applications and their ability to deploy them. Another area where companies often see an execution gap open up is when compliance regulations change, and companies need to respond. Unfortunately, for too many years, applications and systems were designed to operate independently and alone. Changes that crossed applications or required input across them required Herculean efforts on the part of IT or integration departments to deliver on. And if execution was eventually possible, most integration or business process change efforts lagged seriously behind business requirements and needs.

That’s where business processes management (BPM) and business rules engines (BRE) comes in. Many of the organizations that I’ve talked with that are investigating and exploring BPM and/or business rules are doing so because of their need to address this execution gap issue. BPM and business rules technologies allow organizations to not only automate their existing (or new) business processes, but also monitor, manage, and—this is the most important—modify them in a timely manner in response to business change. Addressing the execution gap means decreasing the time between the identification of a need or change and implementation of the supporting process and IT changes needed to address it.

In short, a good BPM and business rules solution enables organizations to capture new objectives, optimize business processes to address those objectives, and facilitate the implementation and management of those optimized processes. Of course, when it works, the business results are clear and unambiguous: increased business and IT agility that enables organizations to keep up with changing growth, productivity and compliance requirements. For example, Pegasystems is an example of a BPM and business rules vendor that’s focused on this issue of execution gaps. Their solution enables organizations to combine decisions and policy (through business rules) with operations and systems (through process management technologies) in real time.

Of course, simply stating this is a lot easier than doing it. Creating this type of responsive business and IT environment is something else. Even with BPM and business rules technologies, it takes a good deal of work to bridge the gap between where an organization is today, and where it needs to be tomorrow (or, as in many cases, where really it needs to, or wants to, be today). In most cases, good learning doesn’t come easy—either for individuals or organizations. And if continually rising college tuition prices are any indication, it doesn’t come cheap. In my next column we’ll look a little more closely at the execution gap issue and explore the implications and effects.

About the Author

David Kelly - With twenty years at the cutting edge of enterprise infrastructure, David A. Kelly is ebizQ's Community Manager for Optimizing Business/IT Management. This category includes IT governance, SOA governance,and compliance, risk management, ITIL, business service management,registries and more.

As Community Manager, David will blog and podcast to keep the ebizQ community fully informed on all the important news and breakthroughs relevant to enterprise governance. David will also be responsible for publishing press releases, taking briefings, and overseeing vendor submitted feature articles to run on ebizQ. In addition, each week, David will compile the week's most important news and views in a newsletter emailed out to ebizQ's ever-growing Governance community. David Kelly is ideally suited to be ebizQ's Governing the Infrastructure Community Manager as he has been involved with application development, project management, and product development for over twenty years. As a technology and business analyst, David has been researching, writing and speaking on governance-related topics for over a decade.

David is an expert in Web services, application development, and enterprise infrastructures. As the former Senior VP of Analyst Services at Hurwitz Group, he has extensive experience in translating the implications of new application development, deployment, and management technologies into practical recommendations for enterprise customers. He's written articles for Computerworld, Software Magazine, the New York Times, and other publications, and spoken at conferences such as Comdex, Software Development, and Internet World. With expertise ranging from application development to enterprise management to integration/B2B services to IP networking and VPNs, Kelly can help companies profit from the diversity of a changing technology landscape.

More by David A. Kelly

About ebizQ

ebizQ is the insider’s guide to next-generation business process management. We offer a growing collection of independent editorial articles on BPM trends, issues, challenges and solutions, all targeted to business and IT BPM professionals.

We cover BPM standards, governance, technology and continuous process improvement, as well as process discovery, modeling, simulation and optimization, among many other areas. We follow case management, decision management, business rules management, operational intelligence, complex event processing and other related topics. We closely track important trends such as the rise of social BPM, mobile BPM and BPM in the cloud. We also explore BPM’s use in functional areas, such as supply chain and customer management, and in key verticals, such as financial services, health care, insurance and government.

ebizQ's other BPM-oriented content includes podcasts, webcasts, webinars, white papers, a variety of expert blogs, a lively online forum and much more.