As Jim Sinur wrote in this blog: "For nearly two decades, we have been calling business process management BPM. While it has served us well, it doesn't accurately describe process management. First of all not all processes are related to business, though businesses are rife with processes. Secondly the processes imply a fixed map of activities like roads or train tracks and it takes focused effort to build the paths. Work Journey Management can go any where at any time."
What do you think?
Work needs to be managed and BPM is not an incorrect term. Perhaps WJM is providing another perspective on the idea of (less?) structured (and mostly, we hope) automated work flowing through an enterprise. There is an element of chaos and unpredictability which is difficult to formally structure within a BPM process. I'm reminded of some telecom-related provision processes I've seen where there are structured elements and non-structured elements necessary to complete the task.
Does our original mindset around BPM come from an industrial age mindset of punching out widgets where the variability is minimal? Could WJM provide a better way for us to deal with processes within a service/knowledge economy context? I'm going to think about this more but the idea seems feasible.
To extend the idea: do we start looking at this as Value Journey Mapping? Where aspects of value are exchanged between parties?
Kudos to Jim Sinur for highlighting what are key issues around business process software technology.
1) WORK -- When the word "work" shows up in a discussion on BPM, I have to pay attention, because I am of the school that believes "work" is at the core of what business or government or non-profit is all about. And that software should privilege "work" as a first class citizen of any technology devoted to assisting humans with their. And mostly "work" is sort of "invisible" in our systems -- to our detriment. So kudos to Jim for tackling this.
2) JOURNEY -- Re: "Journey", the use of this word has an implication of "narrative" or "story" (they are not exactly the same thing). And there's a lot of research that is reaching the productization and business stage around narrative. Business processes are very much about narrative and story. You can bring work and narrative together very nicely in BPM -- and indeed some vendors seem to do this, but only informally. Jim's original blog entry discusses the interesting work that is being done around the journey concept and is worth reading.
3) PATHS -- Jim refers to "multiple paths" and the difficulty of capturing what could be called the "richness of business reality" in process software. Coincidentally, right now as part of Prof. van der Aalst's current Coursera Process Mining course I'm reading his book on process mining. And Prof. van der Aalst comments in passing on the challenges of what he says are almost all BPM products today, such that they are "flat", i.e. two dimensional. And that reality of business process is really at least three dimensional. I liked this precise technical specification of the challenges of doing business process -- it takes us beyond all the kvetching and argumentation between different schools of thought. Reality is not flat; software that can't accept 3D reality is necessarily more difficult to work with -- likely by an order of magnitude.
It's not clear to me that "process path" and "work journey" are the same thing; however I do believe that they are both important concepts that when engineered into software will make for more powerful software.
From a sales perspective, these questions are important. Because too often customers are frustrated with their BPM initiatives. BPM is sold on "what-should-be", and that vision can be very compelling. But when the science and engineering aren't yet there, then one must be careful that one isn't selling science fiction. Insofar as technical research and productization is continuing, I expect -- contra the naysayers -- that the future of BPM software technology will be very bright indeed. And in the meantime, we do good work with the tools we have.
(By way of background, as many readers of this forum are likely aware, Prof. van der Aalst of the Eindhoven University of Technology is one of the leading academicians in the world focused on the science of business process -- his current Coursera Process Mining course, with 10,000 attendees, is absolutely terrific.)
Err NO? It’s apples and pears? BPM is the discipline / principle that embraces WJM as the experience of the actual work journey to facilitate adaptive change? Sure a useful debate as John says "... key issues around business process software technology" but a distraction to the bigger picture to try and usurp "BPM"?
What it does highlight is the need to really understand how the BPM supporting software actually works to deliver such next generation enterprise "outside-in" adaptive applications which will deliver on a good WJM for staff and an engaged experience for customers. Maybe Jim should be focusing on this which would be much more meaningful than thinking up yet another TLA!
I think the following three basic concepts to be emphasised in a description of today’s process management:
- WHY we do this: “work needs to be managed” (thanks Eric)
- HOW we do this: explicit and executable coordination of activities
- WHAT is used: artificial constructs called processes, patterns, chains, etc. and various coordination techniques
No. A better phrase would be an old-fashioned mess (OFM). Cave paintings in an era of virtual reality.
So let's leave the present to Santa - how do we move it forward into the process of tomorrow?
1: See the bigger picture
The Butterfly wings principle applies to process. The eco-system is bigger than a single company. And a small change in one place can have big effects somewhere else. By seeing the bigger picture we can make positive changes ripple through, rather than creating a series of fixed, immutable paths which form roadblocks to change.
2: Create a 3D view
Our process must constantly gather intelligence and turn it into insight. To tell us where the need is not matched by the process currently, how we can delight by outperforming expectations and highlighting opportunities to do things entirely differently.
A dynamic intelligence system can continuously collect what may seem like inconsequential data from a multitude of small interactions with the company and aggregate it into insight. That needs a team approach. By seeing the process from a whole host of different angles a much greater insight is revealed.
3: Add a timeline
Markets move fast. Much faster than companies. So processes cannot be static. If they drop behind what the company needs, they open an opportunity for competition, or even disruption. Only if they move ahead – anticipating future customer needs, do they create competitive advantage.
That requires a mindset change from the concept of managing to experimentation.
Accepting that the process is never perfect. Involving everyone continually in making it better. Testing. Data-driven. Lean Startup on steroids.
But it matches a world where product lifecycles are measured in months and the entire business model changes every few years. Fluid and dynamic - like a servo system to keep product and production continually aligned with the market need. The Process of tomorrow is Dynamic Product-Market alignment.
I have no clue what Work Journey Management is about. I even Googled it and, apart from Jim's article, there's just zero info on this, let alone how this is different than (or similar to) BPM.
There seems to be a weak link with Customer Journey Mapping and some reference to Adaptive Processes (Jim calls them Emerging).
Renaming BPM every 5 years will not help it cross the chasm.