Editor's Note: This feature is the first in a three-part special package
on dynamic BPM. This article defines dynamic BPM, addresses a few myths about
the methodology and explores its various flavors. Part
II looks at examples of dynamic BPM in action; Part III covers considerations
for choosing a dynamic BPM platform.
No question about it: Dynamic BPM is a hot topic. In fact, it will soon be
a must-have for companies that want to remain competitive, according to Gartner
Inc: "By 2013, dynamic BPM will be an imperative for companies seeking
process efficiencies in increasingly chaotic environments."
Why? Because, as Gartner vice president Janelle Hill puts it: "The amount
and pace of change in business markets are increasing. Pressure to reduce the
latency of change in business processes is driving a need for more dynamic measures.
Dynamic BPM addresses these issues by focusing on enabling process changes to
occur when and as needed." In fact, Gartner analysts have said, BPM is
more than just another technology option-it's a requirement for transformational
Explaining what dynamic BPM does is fairly easy. In the simplest terms, it supports
rapid "on the fly" process adjustments. "You can respond to emerging conditions
and changing business needs, in some cases without any interruption to IT or
without having IT get involved," explains Jim Sinur, a Gartner research vice
That capability provides business users with more control. "With dynamic
BPM, at any time during the process execution, users can change the flow of
the process," says Clay Richardson, senior analyst at Forrester Research.
"They can also delegate and create ad hoc routing, and in essence, add
But defining exactly what dynamic BPM is can get a little tricky-especially
because the term covers a broad spectrum of approaches, ranging from very simple
to highly complex. Here, Sinur walks us through a few key stages.
"The lowest level of dynamic BPM is making the rules specific around the
decision boxes," Sinur says. As an example, he cites the process for writing
a life-insurance policy. "If the policy is less than $1 million, you don't
want humans involved" in administering it, he says. If it's for more than
$1 million, it needs review by a low-level employee. But if it's for more than
$10 million, or if the potential policy-holder has double vision and heart trouble,
it needs approval from someone with more seniority and expertise.
The next level is a bit more complicated. At this level, Sinur says: "You've
picked a path, and you want to dynamically swap out pieces of the process."
For instance, using the insurance-policy scenario: "For a certain kind
of policy, you might switch the order of the steps. For a basic term-life insurance
policy, there are simply steps you skip," he says. "It's dynamic configuration."
This level also allows for backups in case of problems. Here, Sinur cites the
example of obtaining a credit score from one of the three major credit-scoring
systems. "If one credit service is down, you want to have a backup"
that shifts the query to one of the other two, he says. "Once you pick
a path, you're dynamically fixing the potholes."
The next level, which Sinur calls "super-dynamic BPM," is even more
sophisticated. He sums it up this way: "You give the process goals, and
the process figures out what the model should be based on those goals."
For instance, an insurance company's ultimate goal might be maintaining the
best mix of whole-life and term-life policies to ensure both sufficient reserves
and profitability. That mix may shift if necessary to keep the company on track
toward that objective.
"You have goal-driven processes where the process map is morphing before
your eyes," he says. "That's super-dynamic BPM. You're giving this
One step up is "super-super dynamic BPM." Here, Sinur says, "the
goals are changing and shifting based on algorithms. You notice patterns. Maybe
your competition behaves a certain way and they're more profitable. You run
a predictive analysis or correlation or simulation and the goals change dynamically."
Back to the big picture
Sinur expects more and more companies to begin using some form of dynamic BPM.
"We're crossing the chasm," says Sinur, referring to the technology-adoption
gap, described by author Geoffrey Moore, between early enthusiasts and mainstream
users. Sinur expects that smaller and midsized companies will soon recognize
the approach's value as well.
About the Author
Anne Stuart, site editor for ebizQ, is a veteran journalist who has written for national magazines, daily newspapers, an international news service and many Web sites. She’s specialized in covering business and technology issues since 1993, holding senior editorial positions at CIO, Inc., WebMaster and Redmond Channel Partner magazines. Previously, she was an editor and reporter for The Associated Press and several daily newspapers. She's based in Newton, Mass., at TechTarget, ebizQ's parent company. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Anne on Google+ and at annestuart_TT on Twitter.More by Anne Stuart
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