To some enlightened people, the glass is always half full and I must say, having had a good look at our newly released Global BPM Report, there is always a good reason to consider Business Process Management. Even – or especially – if you don’t like processes.
Let me explain.
As is noted in the foreword of the report, BPM has firm roots in management practices such as Total Quality Management, Business Process Reengineering and Model Based Development. It should be no surprise that many of the executives that were interviewed for the report emphasize the role of BPM in this area: as a critical weapon in the battle for efficiency, effectiveness, compliance and transparency in processes. Clearly, this aspect of BPM attracts organizations that have a fairly mature process culture and deal with processes that are more or less stable, robust and predictable. TRAIN processes if you like, that benefit from being well defined, manageable, measured and monitored. This is a foundation for continuous, lean-style improvement and some executives will have their KPI’s directly linked to the results (just like the salaries of a few railroad CEO’s now depend on the punctuality of their trains).
On the other hand, in a challenging and changing business environment that is characterized by uncertainty, BPM allows organizations to adapt, be more agile and fleet of foot as well. Here we are looking at a breed of processes that should be just as easy to model and execute as to change (say supporting a new, composite consumer product or an unexpected partnership with another market player). Instead of burying process logic deep inside Java, ABAP or COBOL code, it is extracted and defined externally through a BPM suite. It puts processes right at the fingertips of the business side of organizations and turns them into more flexible BUS processes. They are able to quickly change route when internal or external circumstances dictate so, thus acting as an Agility Layer on top of the highly standardized, even commoditized parts of the business.
Still, there is yet another world which is difficult to grasp for people that like structure, control and pre-defined processes. It’s the world of CAR and SCOOTER ‘no processes’: unpredictable, continuously self-adapting and much more focused on reaching the destination, rather than planning the road towards it. People might be collaborating in many different ways – depending on the specific case at hand – and merely need to understand what information is needed from who to finalize the case, instead of being prescribed what activities to carry out in what order. Interesting enough, as the report points out, BPM is currently moving into exactly this unstructured, collaborative age with the newer tools providing No Process support through adaptive case management, business rules engines and real-time decision support.
So here is the good news: whatever mode of transport you fancy, there is something valuable to pick up from BPM. I am sure the Global Business Process Management Report will give you fresh ideas on where to start or restart. Have fun processing it.