Working which Nicholas Kitson I’ve just had a new white paper published around how BPM and MDM work together to deliver on the real vision of BPR, namely the ability for a business to be horizontally consistent and efficient while retaining local agility around process. BPR 2.0 – Mastering Business Agility. The basic principle is simple: Processes don’t work horizontally when they’ve been encoded in technology. The business processes that work horizontally in an organisation are collaborations, often ad-hoc and in the world of outside-in dynamic and created by consumers.

Information, managed by MDM, is therefore the thing that delivers on the horizontal vision of BPR, the ability to trace transactions and interactions through the whole business. BPM then delivers on the vision of the locally agile and efficient business unit. Underpinning this is a shift in how companies deliver integration projects. Instead of passing full records for Master Data it becomes only important to send the key data in transactions and have MDM manage the information lifecycle to ensure all systems have the information they require within their domain and in the manner that makes sense within that domain. This produces more dynamic and less fragile integration solutions which in turn enables more dynamic and independent business divisions. Thus with BPR 2.0 the organisation can both govern strategically at the horizontal level and operationally at the division level.

Why is this separation important? One word: people.

The reason that projects which aim to deliver horizontal processes fail is that different divisions have different motivations and people who think in different ways. The head of sales and the head of procurement are rarely going to agree on everything, or indeed anything, the head of manufacturing and the head of marketing have very different focuses. So rolling out a single process might possibly succeed that includes these four actors departments in operational detail (it probably won’t, but lets pretend for a moment) so where the process has actionable steps and decisions in each group. But what about when the head of sales wants a change, but the head of MFG and procurement are happy and don’t want the hassle of re-testing? This is where horizontal fails at the process and succeeds at the information level.

One tool doesn’t solve everything, its the combination of tools and the recognition of how people really work that leads to success.