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Live from IMPACT – End to End Process Visibility


Last session for me today, indeed the last session before I go home, is Janelle Hill of Gartner and Kramer Reeves of IBM on improving agility through end-to-end process agility. Janelle went first sharing Gartner’s BPM Scenario for the next five years. She had two initial points:

  • In 2013, do you know where your work is?
    How will globalization and outsourcing change where you work is?
  • By 2013 ‘process’ will become a foundational construct complementing ‘function’ and ‘product’ for defining how a company operates.

Janelle introduced what’s new in BPM and the associated technologies. She emphasized that this is not Business Process Reengineering all over again. New things are:

  1. Process orientation complements functional orientation, it does not replace it
    Need to keep the functions but also integrate a process view resulting in a function/process matrixed management.
  2. Processes must be effective, transparent and agile not just efficient
    This means they must be explicit and externalized. Processes must be clearly expressed and readily changed rather than embedded in code or people’s minds. Models of the process are the best way to do explicit process management enabling both collaboration between IT and the business and more rapidly and reliable change and simulation. Using a BPMS to actually execute this model is the best practice. Clearly this has an analogy on the decision side – decisions too should be modeled and externalized using rules and analytics.
  3. Continuous improvement must be linked with occasional transformative changes
    Design for change don’t build to last, as Gartner has said elsewhere. This is where SOA and BPM come together. SOA and BPM allows you both to incrementally improve processes and enable more dramatic change through services that are composited by the process.
  4. Process interactions must be managed not just transactions to enable companies to be more responsive

Next Janelle talked about how BPM will change the way a company operates. Well, the explicit models become a window into work in progress. Managers use the models to monitor work in progress, see bottlenecks and so on. Peers understand each other’s work and status and so on. The model allows instrumentation for business event monitoring and management.

This means managers must become more adept at using real-time monitoring tools to do real-time management. Collaboration and teaming become more important with a matching shift from command/control to more coaching. Lastly there is more simulation and optimization of decisions. Meanwhile IT become focused on the development of new components or services while helping their business users become the solution assemblers. I would add that the components that implement business decisions must also be controlled by the business.

Janelle made the point that a process-driven enterprise must have externalized business rules that can be changed by process participants, among other changes such as risk analysis become based on simulation not analysis and dramatically increased visibility.

She finished up talking about the proven use-cases for investing further in BPM technologies. The primary sweet spot is where there is a need for frequent change and business ownership of process definitions. Secondarily BPMS technology can be effectively applied where rapid change is required but still owned by IT. The first case tend to focus on BPM, the second on SOA but in fact both scenarios need both BPM and SOA initiatives coordinated. BPMS, she says, works in a variety of areas but some key questions that lead you to a BPMS are:

  • If it is more critical to coordinate all resources to deliver success
  • If your process crosses more than 3 boundaries
  • If your process is poorly understood
  • If your process is customer or partner facing
  • If it is susceptible to disruption either internal or external
  • If the business is responsible for change management

All processes are not considered equal – variations exist like case management, form-driven workflow, content collaboration, multi-party transactional workflow, participant-driven workflow and optimization of network relationships. You need to consider things like what triggers it, what “ends” a process, why it is done, how work is sequenced, how many participants there are, unit of work, minimum duration, degree of expertise, exception rate, milestones. Most companies are focused on case management, forms-driven workflow and participant-driven workflow.

Finally she talked about the issues of process integrity. Gartner sees process integrity wrapping interaction integrity, transaction integrity and data or information integrity. A more complex composite environment makes “integrity” harder to define and manage.

Her recommendations were:

  • Prepare both business and IT for the impact of BPM
  • Be specific about the products you need for each project and focus on low hanging fruit
  • Don’t try and pick an enterprise standard as it is changing and growing too fast

IBM, of course, felt that they have a complete BPM Suite. Like Gartner, IBM considers BPM a mix of business practices and software. Their view of the software stack also includes the need for business rules management and for business user control.

Kramer brought the focus back to visibility and the need to achieve actionable insights (I still prefer insightful action, myself). Real-time, role-based visibility into a process allows actions to be taken faster, the process to be improved and results measured. Gartner sees this as a sometimes unintended benefit of SOA too – better process visibility. He went through a number of case studies, which I won’t attempt to capture. These range from eliminating inefficiencies, modeling a whole enterprise, visibility across a supply chain with complex sourcing, six sigma process improvement to entering new markets.

Well, that’s it for me at IMPACT. I will post a summary and all the links to other posts I can find to wrap up next week.