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In the first Best of BPM series article, we answered the question "Is BPM for everyone?" -- finding that the concept of improving and managing processes to achieve desired outcomes does indeed apply to every organization of every size. Now we are going to look specifically into how BPM software vendors are starting to "change the BPM game."

It's interesting to see that the BPM industry seems almost like one with a split personality. On one hand we see analysts continuing to predict strong market growth and a number of BPM vendors exhibiting business growth, even under the most challenging economic conditions most of us have ever faced. On the other hand, there is a passionate outcry that "BPM is Dead" -- citing a continuing lack of evidence that organizations are actually "getting it" and truly optimizing their processes to outcomes instead of just replacing poor processes with poor -- but automated -- processes.

The BPM Market -- Where is it?

To understand these conflicting perspectives it helps to put the BPM market itself into perspective. Many people, including industry insiders and leading analysts -- view the BPM market enjoying a steady climb to its natural peak, having crossed the chasm (Geoffrey Moore) perhaps four or five years ago or even longer. In reality, the BPM market is hanging on the edge of the chasm and the pieces are finally failing into place for it to cross and bloom into being a mainstream part of how we successfully manage our businesses.

But what is going to take it over the chasm? There are four key factors that are even now being addressed, and they will build the bridge to unleashing the potential of BPM once and for all.

The First Factor in Changing the Game -- Lean BPM

The first factor is Lean BPM -- defined as the process mindset focused on outcomes that eliminates non-value added work and simplifies process through design and automation. If it's not focused on outcomes (or at least outputs) and it doesn't simplify the process by eliminating activities, hand-offs, interactions and tasks, then it's not Lean BPM. For clarification, this is not the aspect of Lean BPM characterized by technology use or delivery methods (e.g. SaaS) -- this is the reshaping of how work gets done. Lean BPM covers a number of concepts -- including Lean use of technology -- but the big bang effect of Lean BPM is the reshaping of work. This is now starting to gain widespread adoption and mindshare, a trend that will grow very significantly in 2010.

This change holds great significance. In the past, BPM efforts were often stymied at the process modeling or design stage, and process designs varied widely in the value they actually produced when deployed (from huge wins to negative results). Now, with the surge in popularity of Lean BPM, the probability that process projects will result in significant improvement (value) to the organization is quickly tipping the scale towards repeatable success -- eliminating a major barrier to crossing the chasm.


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