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The BPM Scenario


Janelle Hill talked about the BPM Scenario and the role of BPM in creating intelligent operations. She had three things to cover – why is BPM more important than ever, business optimization and where to go next.

First, she reminded us of some key elements of BPM from Gartner’s perspective:

  • BPM involves a focus on processes as assets
    This drives visibility with explicit business processes and visibility into the flow of work as well as the design of the process.
  • BPM contributes directly to enterprise performance
    This means accountability and accountability to business not It with a clear linkage to performance and metrics
  • BPM drives operational excellence and agility
    This means a focus on adaptability not just efficiency

BPM is more important than ever because global events, like US Visa fee hikes, massive snowstorms in NYC or a nuclear crisis in Japan have a global impact that, for many, come out of the blue.

Gartner sees more opportunity in unstructured processes than in structured ones – claiming that 80% of the processes in a company are unstructured and that this is where untapped opportunities for differentiation exist. Personally I am not convinced – 80% of the processes may be unstructured but this does not mean that 80% of the work in a company is unstructured. In fact this reminds me of the 80% of data being unstructured therefore unstructured data is more important nonsense – structured data and structured processes are structured precisely because they are more important. Anyway, she also pointed out that explicit, graphical models are going to be key with which I cannot disagree.

Next she discussed how you can optimize business outcomes

  • Process is an overlooked dimension of organizational design – companies focus on functions, markets and products but often omit processes. Focusing on the 4-12 critical processes (and I would add the parallel important 4-12 decisions) and tying them to your strategic objectives and metrics so you can prioritize them.
  • She also identified pipeline visibility for front line knowledge workers as a key element – giving knowledge workers more visibility into the work coming can really help. Of course automating decisions to take work OUT of their pipeline would help too.
  • Finally she would encourage folks to focus on operational resilience with goals that vary by roles, operations tuned to shifts in business patterns etc. Interestingly she suggested pushing decision authority closer to where the work happens, something for which Decision Management is ideal
  • Intelligent Business Operations – better decisions, faster response to events, dynamic adaptation to improve business performance. This is the key focus of Decision Management.
  • Optimization, while important, is a balancing act with trade-offs between costs and service for instance

Finally she had some comments on how can we advance our thinking

  • Establishing your current state and your current vision can establish how you should move forward
  • How much BPM is right for you and for which parts of your organization? Does IT or the business drive change and how much change are you talking about anyway? Lots of business driven change drives BPM investments, especially in more model-driven tools (adaptability as well as visibility and accountability). A little business driven change would focus you on visilibity and accountability only (less value from BPM) and a little IT driven change might mean BPM is not useful at all.
  • Gartner has a BPM maturity model across organization/culture, process competencies, methodologies, technology, metrics and governance. This is designed to help you see how you can move up the maturity curve – where you need to invest
  • Remember that there is a cost of agility – it impacts governance and integrity – so be explicit about the amount of change you need (good advice for someone managing decisions too)

Her closing thoughts. Look for corners and edges for your BPM puzzle – Process Architecture, Organizational Change, Metrics might be corners while business rules (decisions), methodologies etc might be edges.

  1. Communicate the big picture – the reason you adopted and are driving BPM
  2. Identify and tackle your critical constraints
  3. Celebrate successes to sell BPM to others – in business terms

And this advice too is good for Decision Management projects.