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Do you think IT still has too much control over BPM in many companies?

Thursday, May 07 2015, 09:53 AM
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, May 07 2015, 10:08 AM - #Permalink
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    Better question, "Does IT Still Have Too Much Control Over [any discipline, domain] in Many Organizations?" Short answer, no. That's a myth of antagonism that many still like to perpetuate for purposes of driving a wedge to leverage for their own advantage, usually a vendor sneeking in the back door on an LOB's budget. I haven't seen it much for the better part of fifteen years now. What I do see is IT collaboratively pursuing partnership with the LOBs to deliver solutions. The classic enterprise architecture definition of "aligning with and supporting the business" is very much the operating model out there right now. They know that if they don't give the LOB what they want the LOB will back door them anyway, go out and buy what they want, then the technology is foisted upon IT whether they like it or not because now they have to support it.

    That doesn't mean within the business and IT both there aren't individual fiefdoms. That also occurs at a lot of places, but that's an individual problem, not an organizational one short of the individual being high enough in the feeding chain to effect change throughout the org. When I've seen that one though, that individual usually doesn't last too long and is shown the door.

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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, May 07 2015, 10:13 AM - #Permalink
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    Based on most of the organizations I know the answer is Yes.

    Mostly because these organizations still see BPM as workflow automation and system integration, and not as real process and work management. Many of the so called "BPM Initiatives" are owned by IT departments.

    I see a lot of organizations that have yet to take advantage of the information provided by a BPM System to make real business driven decisions and real process improvement.

    So, from a "brand" point of view, IT still has a lot of control over BPM in the organization.

    • Patrick Lujan
      more than a month ago
      We're obviously hanging out in different places. I largely be in insurance and finance in the U.S. Fortune 500, where be you?
    • Filipe Pinho Pereira
      more than a month ago
      @Patrick: Insurance and Finance in Portugal (no Fortune 500 :)). Although of course my opinion is purely empirical and based on my experience.

      Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of interaction and communication between IT and LOB but still "BPM initiatives and programs" are mostly run and managed by IT departments.
    • Patrick Lujan
      more than a month ago
      Interesting, every truly large initiative I've seen in that space it was a large LOB launched the initiative, then pulled in the technology and started their own effort, whether they paid the vendor, partner, SI to do it for them or they asked IT to. About half the time it fell down because after the vendor or SI left so too did the expertise for crafting (that's the right word for it) good solutions on the platform.

      Top down and bottom up, meet in the middle works best.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, May 07 2015, 10:37 AM - #Permalink
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    IT has too much control over business and it is BPM and supporting software in hands of business people that will change the future. Does IT even "get" BPM indeed do they need to? IT handles infrastructure, secure delivery etc and will be handling the mess they have created in legacy for many years as next generation business software driven by BPM thinking moves into supporting business the way business really works!

    • Patrick Lujan
      more than a month ago
      Without belaboring your or my opinions on the "control" part, the at-large heartburn I have with business people "changing the future" is end-state. "Handling" infrastructure means stability, scalability, performance. It's all well and good when putting the processes, their definition, their management, in the hands of the users until it's time to scale. At the end of the day that "discipline" is effected on some "platform," some technology, somewhere, some way - BPMS or otherwise. And the vast majority of the time, for a true BPMS platform that can actually scale, at the core of that process is a work object that is a BLOB that gets serialized back and forth across the line. And if that pig is too big and there are too many of them then the infra falls down, then the app falls down (besides the fact it's not a good member of the machine floor ecosystem), then the initiative/effort falls down, then the business falls. That part ALWAYS gets conveniently left out, glossed over.

      It takes both - business and IT.
    • David Chassels
      more than a month ago
      Of course in reality business and IT must work together but the arrival of BPM supporting 6GL puts control of build and change firmly in hands of business. Experience with early adopters shows once the tradition fear of "IT" systems is removed and their ideas really can be readily implemented then a new exciting journey can start.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, May 07 2015, 11:00 AM - #Permalink
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    3 votes

    Management has too much control over many organisations.

    For centuries we lived under the misapprehension that the best form of management was OWM - Old White Men.
    The first generation of IT was commissioned by and to support this form of management.

    But we know better ways.

    We know, for example, that traffic lights work better than policemen on point duty.
    Hole in the wall machines work better than banks with branches and tellers.
    And we know that the biggest problems in any company walk out the door every evening.

    We've created the first generation of IT to keep OWM in the loop.
    They're now the bottleneck. IT needs to take them out of the equation.

    We can create systems which...
    Sample demand in 10,000 malls across 50 states and organise our inventory to maximise in-stocks.
    Analyse returns in 100 countries and work out the effect on margins
    Work out component and marginal costs to create optimal volumes dynamically and ramp marketing to suit.

    Just a few examples - there's hundreds more. Against this OWM simply cannot survive.

    So is the answer IT? Well any system is as strong as the weakest link.
    Currently IT is focused on pulling millions of items of data into warehouses and cruching it, just to put pretty graphs on OWM desktops.
    Managing the hell out of people who actually produce something just to create the illusion of management amongst the OWMs.
    And it has the "old and slow" methodology which is the trademark of the OWM.

    IT is instant. Pulling billions of bits of data together to make things happen and give instant feedback.
    To learn from every transaction and take the guesswork out of every part of every process.
    To dynamically make well informed decisions in milliseconds (not at board meetings).
    And to remove the "Highest Paid Person in the Room" stranglehold on decisions.

    We need rid of OWM. And the "IT as a means of control" mindset which goes with it.

    IT can be part of the answer. But it isn't currently. And BPM is a classic symptom of the problem.

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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, May 07 2015, 09:16 PM - #Permalink
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    Isn't the question rather, is Business stepping up to lead BPM in enough organizations?

    Or are they keeping BPM at arms length in IT where someone else can safely be blamed for any failures?

    I'm pretty much in alignment with Patrick on this one...

    • Anatoly Belaychuk
      more than a month ago
      Good point about the blame, Scott.
      BPM consultant: - Your business processes are in hands of IT - this is no good!
      Business: - Indeed!
      - Proper BPM will return control back to you.
      - Wow! This is great. But... does it means full responsibility, too? :)
    • Gary Samuelson
      more than a month ago
      In painful agreement here. Though not always the case - more of a symptom of the "brokedown palace". Such is the work-place when the enterprise serves management or, from a larger perspective, a government for somebody else.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Friday, May 08 2015, 03:33 AM - #Permalink
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    4 votes

    Sadly enough, most of what is called a "BPM project" is either "BPM without BPMS" or "BPMS without BPM". IT has too little control in the former and too much control in the latter.

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    • Patrick Lujan
      more than a month ago
      Short, sweet and to the point. And spot on.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Friday, May 08 2015, 08:00 AM - #Permalink
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    4 votes

    “...too much control over BPM in many organisations” is an effect, the cause is that BPM is a vendor-centric industry. Each BPM-suite vendor, each consultant, each BPM body-of-knowledge offer very different understanding of BPM (as a trio: discipline, tools and practices/architecture). Thus BPM projects/programs (being enterprise-wide activities by their nature) act as “amplifiers” of organisational health – very successful in places where business and IT are “in tune” and catastrophic in case of organisational tensions.

    This is yet another argument in favor of BPM becoming a customer-centric industry.

    Thanks,
    AS

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  • Accepted Answer

    Friday, May 08 2015, 09:53 AM - #Permalink
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    No.

    Let me rephrase your question, as it should be asked, given the contemporary view:

    Does business have too much control over IT?

    IT specialists are moving up the ranks in business management while ecosystems churn and redefine under today's technical infrastructure. I even hesitate to call it "technical" - it just is.

    We need to realize that we're heading towards an all IT business environment with various specializations into vertical services. Think of Amazon, the SaS model, cloud... For example, banking and finance are software and the means with which to wrangle the flow of money as information (digital currencies). Automating regulation, compliance, and meeting the customer not at the bank itself... but at their consumer-device.

    Management needs to step aside and begin a new dialogue. Think of today's children with their smart-phones. They don't have an IT department. Children are just growing up to evolve and live within what we defined - the digital world. Technology didn't replace so much as augment existence.

    Business is now technical. In a few years we'll see those grey, pinstripe suits at the virtual museum of natural history.

     

    • David Chassels
      more than a month ago
      Business is NOT technical in fact business logic never changes or indeed will ever change! Yes gadgets that even children play with may give out data that may be linked to a process where the logic takes over where people add new data to achieve desired outcome. Of course full audit trail real time feed back etc with adaptive capability is essential.
      This is all in the business domain well outside IT area of expertise who will build the "gadget" create the infrastructure and ensure secure delivery of the data.
    • Gary Samuelson
      more than a month ago
      Well I'm not yet convinced on the empirical existence of AI (a technical ghost...). I have however rekindled my research on agent-based systems. The discussion isn't so much about looking back from our new digital world as it is about concerned relevance. Efficiency trumps humanity. This is a precariously humanistic view given its contemporary foundations. We are afloat. The taking of Departure leaves us afloat as the last recognition of land turns us forward to the effort of charting passage (Conrad).

      I can say that "business is technical", not in its reliance on modern gadgetry as these are only printed evidence, in material form, and quickly left behind as these anchor to a fixed point in evolution. Business is technical because IT effects our logic, biases reasoning, controls information, shapes and delivers communication. The message isn't just carried by the media but embodies the modern ecosystem.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Maria Paz
    Maria Paz
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    Friday, May 08 2015, 01:34 PM - #Permalink
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    3 votes

    In my opinion, the answer is generally YES for medium and big companies. Let me explain why:

    A medium or big company could have lost out of sight the organization's processes because the tasks became too daily-oriented. In those cases, the IT Department tends to be in charge of processes and have a bigger picture. The success of BPM falls into their hands. It depends on the effort that IT puts into processes to accomplish the company's goals, which doesn't always happen.

    On the other hand, smaller companies don't normally have a strong IT Department, but rather a small tech team. In those cases, the COO or CEO can get involved in the processes using BPM. This is only possible if they have access to affordable and simple solutions. For anyone looking for advice on how to implement BPM in a Small or Medium Enterprise, have a look at this post.

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