I am preparing for a panel debate and a brief case presentation at the upcoming BPM Gartner Summit in London. The theme of the summit is “Making it happen: Driving high performance results beyond the hype”. And although it makes you think of airport billboards, it has a promising, pragmatic tone. Let’s hope it works out, because you see: every now and then when the like-minded of our industry meet, they seem to be tempted to indulge in their own, well-fenced topic. They forget about the world outside and why they were into the topic in the first place.

It happened to SOA. SOA gurus discussed with other SOA gurus the importance of SOA, the journey to SOA, how to set up a SOA governance, SOA centres of excellence, SOA reference models, how to insure SOA compliance and – unavoidably – the ins and outs of SOA maturity models. Turned out that nobody else cared about SOA (only in what it could deliver) and it took some time for the profession to realise and pronounce the topic ‘dead’.

Conferences full of Hammers discussing Nails in all sizes, categories and colours, I am sure you can easily point to similar areas (Cloud, EA, Web 2.0, anybody?) now and in the recent past. Is it happening to Business Process Management too? Maybe.

It could be tempting indeed to dive into the mechanics of BPM, understanding how to create a culture of continuous process improvement, what methodologies to use, how to promote process stewardship across the organisation, essentially how to live and breath process. But here is the catch: process is not the Holy Grail and managing processes is not the Meaning of Life. Seriously.

We’re in the business of results: value that can be defined and measured. And yes, there is a growing number of organisational pains and aspirations that can be addressed with great solutions that are Powered by BPM. And for sure, if we want sustainable impact, we need a proper BPM governance and mindset (BPM Power, if you like).  But in the end, the business case counts. Not an organisation’s score on a BPM maturity index.

This is why I particularly look forward to presenting three real-life cases that created clear results, including a compelling ‘drink your own champagne’ one within our own organisation. I would have loved to present a fourth case story in which we decisively voted not to apply BPM and created tremendous success.

But admitted: for this audience, that would not exactly hit the nail on the head.