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Lessons Learned from BPM Deployments


Ken Vollmer kicked off the last day of the event with a view from the field – a survey on BPM that Forrester did at the end of 2007. The theme is that “BPM has already achieved mainstream status inside of most enterprises but we still have a long way to go to achieve the full benefits”. For Forrester, BPM – business process management – refers to the designing, executing and optimizing of cross-functional activities that incorporate people, systems and partners. They separate the market into two main groups – human-centric (from workflow) and application-centric (from EAI) with document-centric a minor grouping within human centric. In general BAM and process modeling support is pretty even but the human-centric tools do better at collaboration and workflow while the integration-centric ones do better in terms of SOA.

Some factoids from the survey:

  • In terms of adoption, 16% had completed at least 1 BPM effort, 29% had something underway and 42% had planning underway. The ones with no plans worried about cost, lack of proven benefits but the vast majority were doing something.
  • Large companies were split with 35% still in planning, 19% in development while 12% had one and 28% had more than one in production.
  • BPM functionality is in use across the board – most of the elements of BPM get good usage rates in large and small companies
  • IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP were all widely used for BPM followed by Sun and BEA. These are all Integration-centric. Then came a couple of document-centric ones (EMC and FileNet), Software-AG and TIBCO (both HC and IC) then the pure-plays. No definition of BPM was given for the survey question so people are clearly using lots of things to deliver BPM – custom development, for instance, probably dominates in the top few e.g. .NET shops using Sharepoint etc.
  • There’s not much variation by industry but manufacturing has more integration-centric relative to human-centric when compared, say, with Financial Service (16% human-centric v 28% human-centric).
  • When asked what the primary benefits were they got some interesting answers. 24% had increased productivity, 18% real-time visibility, 15% easy change, 13% modeling processes, 12% consistent execution. Process optimization was surprisingly low (12%) but this may just be a reflection of the maturity model – where process optimization is the last and most sophisticated stage.
  • Impact to date was interesting with 37% had clear measurable benefits, 42% had mixed successes and 18% said nothing to date. A BPM Center of Excellence had a strong correlation with success (49% in positive results, 10% in those without).
  • Metrics include traditional ones (lower costs, more efficiency etc) but also ones related to supporting innovation (doing things that were too complex before, more rapid response to new opportunities).
  • BPM success was often measured in terms of process cycle time reduction and customer satisfaction (top) then process error rate and risk reduction (second).
  • Lots of companies succeeded with BPM (28% exceeded goals and 68% met them) and strong correlation between centers of excellence and results. The correlation is a result of a couple of things – a commitment from senior management to go cross-functional and to put budget into BPM as well as a better way to train and keep experts staff.


  1. BPM is a hot technology with a majority of firms already engaged with BPM and more are planning to begin. Proven results in case studies appearing in the last couple of years are driving this.
  2. Manufacturing leads the way – process improvement (Six Sigma, Lean, TQM) has been a big deal in manufacturing for a while so it makes sense that BPM would be used here to support these.
  3. We’ve got a long way to go as 60% of large enterprises are still in initial phases and even those with projects often have many more to do
  4. Multiple BPM tools are needed. Unique capabilities of each kind provide real value so businesses should not push for a single BPM tool.


  • Make a BPM Center of Excellent the focus of your BPM efforts
  • Populate it with business and technical members
  • Have a process visionary lead the team from the business side along with business process experts
  • Enterprise architects should server as the liaison to IT but should expect deeper involvement – many times IT is expected to lead the CoE.
  • Ensure metrics are in place before you start – operational efficiency metrics and innovation ones.