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Business-Empowered Process Implementation


Bruce Silver led a panel on business-empowerment and BPMN. He emphasized that BPM is an approach, BPMS is a software stack for supporting this new approach AND that there is change in how business and IT work together. Business-empowered implementation is what he uses to describe this – no break between the business view of a process model and the IT implementation of it. Roundtripping, multiple perspectives of the same model, executable models etc. The adoption of BPMN as a standard for modeling and execution has been a big part of this.This new approach requires new people and new skills – using BPMN effectively to build a valid, robust model that maps to the business and can be implemented and executed.
Tom Debevoise, Jason Woodruff, Daniel Oneufer and David Frankel (SAP Labs) were the panel. Their initial thoughts included:

  • Not there yet, long term transition.
  • BPMN and its broad adoption are critical to success and this must not be lost.
  • The value of “purple people” should not be underestimated – the line between business and IT is more blurry on these kinds of projects.
  • A strong facilitator is critical.
  • Long way to go to make this a normal approach – will take outliers and seed projects as too many people still not aware of the value of BPM.
  • Two communities – technical folks coming to understand the value of a process-orientation and process-centric folks coming to understand the value of tooling and automation of production deployment/modification.
  • Growth in the market requires both groups to understand each other.
  • Sometimes gets caught up in Process Improvement “priesthood”.

After some interesting back and forth, questions from the audience:

  • Will UML replace BPMN with something? Although there is much in common between UML meta models and BPMN meta mdoels, the focus of UML is on technical folks not business users. BPMN is packaged and designed to appeal to business-centric folks and that means UML won’t replace it.
  • IT people and departments who don’t see the value and don’t make some transition to a business-empowered approach will become increasingly irrelevant.
  • BPMN does not mean that business people will handle system recovery but it does mean that when IT adds this kind of thing to a process the business will at least understand what’ going on. It’s about collaboration.
  • Business people don’t want to “own” the process in all its gory details, they want to be part of the management of their processes.
  • “Business people” are not a single group but there is a mindset – people doing their jobs who need systems to do so, even though they have very different jobs.