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Very simply, where do you think BPM needs the most improvement?

Tuesday, May 19 2015, 09:42 AM
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  • Accepted Answer

    Ian Gotts
    Ian Gotts
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    Tuesday, May 19 2015, 09:54 AM - #Permalink
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    BPM has a tarnished brand and reputation. It has had 30 or more years of valuable, yet under-estimated work. It has been misundertood (IT product) and mis-represented (reasons to sack people). Can it be improved or does it need to completely reinvent itself? My view is thre is too much baggage associated with BPM. It will continue to improve and the analysts say it is growing at 8-12% per year. But to really make a difference a complete rebrand may be required.

    • Scott Francis
      more than a month ago
      BPM has a tarnished brand only in the same respect that Agile does. Sometimes companies blame the tools or methods, rather than themselves, for failure. Is it BPM that is at fault if you chose a poorly qualified vendor staffing your project offshore with people you've never met? Or is it your fault?

      The BPM vendors that I can see results for are growing faster than 8-12% per year. So some are winning and I guess, some must be treading water or losing.

      There are good brands in BPM (BP3 among them, though I might be biased ; )
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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, May 19 2015, 09:57 AM - #Permalink
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    I think the beach is a nice spot where we can work on BPM improvement.

    Oh wait...

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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, May 19 2015, 09:59 AM - #Permalink
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    I'm going to come at it from the other view. Not outside looking in, but inside looking out. Tarnished brands and reputation are a consequence of poor communications, poor expectations or understanding, poor execution.

    On the ground, in the trenches, it's expertise. Always. On the business side - What do we want to do? What do want to accomplish? - and on the technical side - How do we do, what's the best way to do that? - both.

    Crap reputation is a consequence of crap execution.

    • Ian Gotts
      more than a month ago
      Crap reputation can also be because someone has stolen your brand and trashed it for you because they have used it to further their own ends. In the case of BPM, EVERYBODY has had a go - IT vendors, Six Sigma, management consultants, analysts, Quality/ISO and the list goes on and on.
    • Patrick Lujan
      more than a month ago
      There's a story there over barley pops, I can "hear" it. :D

      Six Sigma, CMM, ITIL, vendors' smoke and mirrors, consultants' smoke up skirts, BTDT on all of the preceding.

      At the end of the day someone sits in front a process designer and bangs out a process definition and someone, somewhere else sitting in a cube or office says that is, or isn't what they were after.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, May 19 2015, 10:17 AM - #Permalink
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    3 votes

    It's the supporting software that has historically failed BPM; nothing wrong with the discipline which has been around for many decades. Maybe too easy for consultants to sell their words but they have failed to really understand the required software to actually deliver the digital solution.

    Suggest much more effort needed to understand "how" the software actually works to deliver on required outcomes not just rely on vendor hype. The other issue is such software should not be called BPM needs to have a tag that describes its capabilities? My vote goes for "Adaptive" a movement that has already set some good requirements and user focused.

    • Patrick Lujan
      more than a month ago
      I was with you right up to the "adaptive" vote part, but first para and first sentence of second para spot on. BPM is so much more than just adaptive.
    • David Chassels
      more than a month ago
      Adaptive already has the user centric association and is a word business can readily understand. First the software must be able to mould to user needs recognising customisation is must have. But this is an on going need so change by the business must be ready supported even allowing users to make changes where appropriate. The UI Adaptive capability recognises the user specific needs; what data is required and laid out in custom manner that reflects the the user works logically.

      As I said Adaptive is a already in use reflecting such capabilities. I had thought of "Agile" but does not embrace the whole vision. Maybe "AA".....but whatever we need a branded tag that gets that vision over to business?
    • John Morris
      more than a month ago
      Agree on the gap between the ease of selling (BPM has such great propaganda - what executive in their right mind would resist) and the difficulty of using the technology in a way that lives up to the promise (roundtripping anyone?).

      This is why I believe the new Volker Stiehl book (i.e. the one with Bruce Silver's Forward) is so important. Sure we are getting better and better technology, but Stiehl's point (I'm only part way through the book) is that a lot of the challenges may be addressed by methodological discipline, specifically segregating business process and logic from technical interface and implementation (i.e. using ESB capabilities).
    • Gary Samuelson
      more than a month ago
      re: "specifically segregating business process and logic from technical interface and implementation" (Morris)

      Inferring that segregation implies subsequent separation of business and IT problems - thereby supporting a focused application of skills towards model implementation.

      I'm concerned that this approach (though common on BPM projects) leads to the unfortunate problem of injecting yet-another set of silos into the organization. These new boundaries then leading to increased latency in communication/feedback at the worst possible time and location - between project teams during the analysis, construction, and implementation of process models.

      I don't believe there's a single answer. Hoping that we'll see a balanced systems and methodology approach. Noting that business subject matter experts know little of ESB. But, shouldn't our technology experts learn something about their business ecosystem?
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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, May 19 2015, 10:50 AM - #Permalink
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    5 votes

    I think that BPM has currently enough technical solutions to be supported, both in management and operational level.

    In my opinion, what needs to be improved is market approach, in terms that customers understand what is the real added value that BPM can bring to their companies. From my own experience, the operational level it's easier to understand by IT people (normally involved in these decisions), while the management level is hard to understand by business people. Paradoxically, the BPMS solutions are just focused on technical implementations, not to measure the business benefits, and this is the point that needs to be improved toward to business people.

    Management techniques that help them to understand clearly how it's possible get benefits, using the BPM for business transformation, can be the key of improvement, and as well good communication of business cases.

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  • Accepted Answer

    Ian Gotts
    Ian Gotts
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    Tuesday, May 19 2015, 11:33 AM - #Permalink
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    A while back I wrote a blog supported by an amusing, but very poignant video called "process discrimination" The thrust was that you say that you are involved in process and you are immediuately discriminated against. Replace process with BPM and you have the issue here.

    https://iangotts.wordpress.com/2010/10/22/process-discrimination-and-living-with-prejudice-bpm/

    • Patrick Lujan
      more than a month ago
      YouTube video on the blog post is blocked.
    • Ian Gotts
      more than a month ago
      Doh!.. The video was a guy dressed up as a bank robber trying to cash a check, book a holiday... so do normal things. And the reaction based on his appearance
    • John Morris
      more than a month ago
      Ian, your comment is telling, regarding the reception of any statement containing the word "process", as opposed to the same statement using the word "business". And I believe you are correct! However, may I suggest that we not give up. Because "process" adds value and specificity to a discussion. If I use a shelf stocking "algorithm" liked to "rules" which trigger re-order "events", which kicks of an "order process", all these things are "business", but someone has to be willing to open up the black box. Otherwise, business is just magical thinking.

      Of course there's the IT version of magical thinking too -- where there's no money in the box, i.e. "business doesn't exist" for IT professionals.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, May 19 2015, 12:17 PM - #Permalink
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    8 votes

    As Ian says above, BPM has been laregly misrepresented and/or misunderstood. Let me share one story.I've been around BPM for now 10 years, always from the vendor side but having interacted with many customers to define strategy, gather requirements, and implement solutions. Three years ago a couple of Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belts joined the company. They felt, and for good reason, expert in BPM, but when I spoke to them about BPM I felt that I was speaking English and they Chinese. Our experience tackling BPM, or in larger sense business transformation, required a good 6 months to synthesize into a common approach whereby we, the LSS and BPM communities, now understood how to harness LSS tools (e.g., DMAIC, Value Stream Maps, SIPOC, Process Charters) to fully leverage BPM suite features and functionality to better guide Business Analysts and Developers while gathering requirements to fully realize the fruits of automation (reduced costs, improved quality, faster service). Apply this to the BPM market space. So many people are coming into BPM hearing/knowing one side of the story, when real success requires both reading and knowing the whole book. That is why product is just one element of BPM. People, product, and methodology must come together to be successful. I've started preaching this to all customers and partners. You can buy a BPM tool, learn it, and have some success with it. But you can fail just as often. Real success comes from combining good methodology with smart, qualified people with the backing of stakeholders to effectively make changes using the right tools. For enterprise-class BPM projects, people can become the main impediments. Lack of knowledge of product capability combined with lack of guts to battle against bad/unrealistic requirements and scope screep result in delays and unrealized beneifts. The BPM community - vendors, system integrators, analysts - need to continue collaborating to ensrue that customers get the right education, trainining, and support to cover all chapters of the BPM Book of Success to be truly successful.

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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, May 19 2015, 01:18 PM - #Permalink
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    4 votes

    UI/UX. BPM can already do so much, but those amazing capabilities are too often cloaked in a user experience that can best be described as unapologetically utilitarian. As an increasing number of customer-facing BPM apps are deployed, there is increasing pressure to transform the user interface aesthetic from "Soviet-era East German apartment block" to something more like "Sydney Opera House".

    • Patrick Lujan
      more than a month ago
      Really? For the better part of six, seven years now most of the platforms I play on have come a looong way in terms of U/I to the extent that, for one Fortune 100, I crafted a CSS skin equivalent for all their BPM apps on a particular platform so all the LOBs stuff (intra and extranet both) looked and felt the same.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, May 19 2015, 01:43 PM - #Permalink
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    6 votes

    I wrote a piece on Quora recently which proved to be the most popular thing I've written there.

    In it I described how, in the first phase of computing, big aggressive hard-sell companies were created along the "pushing tin" model.

    How, when hardware commoditised, they moved into software, buying up any company that produced anything and branding them as theirs.

    And how, now that enterprise software is also over the hill, they are moving on to Big Data and Internet of Things.

     

    The problem for BPM is that it was a casualty of that in-between stage. Some companies created it to really make a difference. It did.

    Then they got bought up by the big boys. Sometimes only really because it threatened what they were already selling - they wanted it so they could shut it down (isn't that right, Oracle). In other companies it was a tier two product - not really pushed by their top salespeople but seen as a niche product for finance (isn't that right, IBM).

    So BPM has never really had the clout to prove what it could do. Giving it that push would be change one.

     

    What made BPM special was that it took Lean and Six Sigma and added software.

    For years Change Practitioners had struggled with implementation. People would take their recommendations and change them subtly to suit themselves. Or wait until the project team had gone, then either gently undermine the bits they didn't buy into, or simply change things because they didn't realise how they were interconnected. The result was that effectiveness decayed over time.

    Software changed all that. Suddenly the software was the system - and it was easier to follow the system than to change it. So the system stayed as good as the day it was installed - the only decay was that the business needs would move on.

    But the project methodology meant that we missed a trick. The software produced oodles of data. Really powerful data for turning the sytem from 50% effective on first iteration to 90% or more. And which gave an early warning of changes in market need. The potential is there to make machine learning sytems which, rather than decaying, improve with time as the data gets better and better.

    This requires a different approach. Instead of the project, the waterfall, the "create and impose"; BPM is at its best done as a continual optimisation process. It can take the six sigma - take the biggest problem and halve it - thinking to its extreme.

    So why don't we do it? Because of those self-same BiG IT company methodologies, focused on the single sale, not the SaaS model of continual feedback of the data and remote improvement of the system which BPM could, if it tried, lend itself to.

     

    So the biggest change? Make BPM something you can remotely change - and regularly do, driven by the data. A continually evolving, self-optimising, market need aware, process which suits the company's needs now, not the ones which were front of mind when the project team happened by a few years back.

     

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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, May 19 2015, 01:51 PM - #Permalink
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    4 votes

    I strongly agree with Garth. In fact, I usually use a slide in my classes asking the students,

    What are the key points in a successful BPM Implementation?

     

    And the right answer would be:

    1) People.

    …..

    ..

    2) People!

    3) People !!

    4) Methodologies

    5) Tools

    In sum, I find nothing wrong in BPM, I don’t believe it has to be reborn. As any other discipline is has evolved, adapting itself to customers’ needs. And it will continue evolving until not being a separate discipline or technology, but part of the stack.

     

    Here a post from Jim Sinur covering Transformation and how to handle people (disponible en castellano)

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  • Accepted Answer

    Maria Paz
    Maria Paz
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    Tuesday, May 19 2015, 01:53 PM - #Permalink
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    I agree with Mr. Camacho's reply. The main improvement areas for BPM are not technical areas, but rather market-related ones.
    Although the BPM field is now much more under the spotlight than a few years back, many companies don't really understand the value that BPM can bring into their operations.
    Big enterprises recognize a bit more the role of BPM but small and medium enterprises don't see process management as a helpful technique. In my opinion this is a common problem among relatively new subjects of study. For instance, when Marketing strategies first started, only huge companies could afford having a Marketing Department of even a Marketing Professional. The same is happening with BPM.
    We need to bring BPM to every enterprise, even small and medium ones. Obviously the strategies used and the investment won't be the same, but there is something useful for every manager and all organizations could benefit from it.
    That is Flokzu's mission: to bring BPM to Small and Medium Enterprises and help them use it in order to grow and become more competitive.
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    • Jose Camacho
      more than a month ago
      This idea of bring the BPM benefits to the small and medium companies it's really important, as we have discussed before. Considering this huge market in every region all over the world, an easy and efficient way to apply BPM could help to change the world, for both vendors and customers.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Wednesday, May 20 2015, 02:37 AM - #Permalink
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    3 votes

    Reading and agreeing with most above comments, I think what happened to BPM, is what it wants to prevent in organizations: Big walls between all parts that should work together

    And BPM has many parts, because managing processes is daily business. And to execute and manage a process (or actually, cases) you need a lot of things:

    - a way of working (wokflow)

    - people

    - information

    -supporting stuff like tooling

    - proper way of managing

    - etc, etc

    So where does BPM needs to be improved? I think in the BPM community itself. I experience a lot of times big misunderstandings between the cool guys of the software, the losers of the methodology, the stick-in-the-pasters of six sigma and the marketing-experts of big analyst firms.

    So as the goal of BPM is to let people work together towards a useful result, it seems that the BPM community itself has a hard time doing that.

    But....what is the BPM community?

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  • Accepted Answer

    Wednesday, May 20 2015, 04:20 AM - #Permalink
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    2 votes

    Fully agree with Emiel and now expecting the next question - HOW to improve the BPM community.

    Thanks,
    AS

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  • Accepted Answer

    Wednesday, May 20 2015, 07:15 AM - #Permalink
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    4 votes

    I agree with Patrick on "the poor reputation" as a result of "crap execution". I think the vendors can help a lot more here, byproviding more out of the box features, particularly frameworks that give business and System Integrators more of leg up when starting a delivery. Some vendors like Pega systems are taking this one step further than frameworks and moving to vertical applications. I think this is a good move and will really help customers to not only accelerate delivery but also more likely to get some thing that works out of the box. I've used frameworks from other vendors and these are invaluable when scoping and desiging an project.

    • John Morris
      more than a month ago
      Bravo! The words "accelerators" and "channels" come to mind.

      Because if BPM is about specific business solutions, then there will need to be a lot of domain knowledge in any BPM implementation. And that means starting from patterns, frameworks, accelerators etc. There are generic patterns which one shouldn't need to re-invent, and then specialized patterns that reflect your way of doing business, that you don't want to share with the competition. Who can deliver such things?

      I believe this is very much a channels play, i.e. smaller BPM service vendors.

      SMB shops have a small accounting staff and hire specialists when they need to make changes. Same thing with BPM -- you have enough staff to do your work day-to-day, and a few simple changes, and you bring in your BPM specialists every quarter, or more. BTW, these BPM specialists are likely going to be your partner for a long time -- and they will never shop your crown jewels down the street.

      The implications for large consulting firms are interesting; there's not so much concern if you shop generic SOA or DB knowledge down the street -- but that's not true when the project is about core business functions and unique ways of doing business.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Wednesday, May 20 2015, 10:05 AM - #Permalink
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    4 votes

    Technology-wise:

    - extend the scope of the BPMN notation - include DATA and CASE. I have a special grudge with data. How is it possible that we declare data modelling as out of scope for the BPMN and still wonder why the hell isn't BPMN picking up in adoption? Who in their right mind do BPM without data? Let's face it - the current BPMN incarnation is an incomplete solution to any business problem. That's why we have all this cacophony of tools and partially supported specs. And then whine about slow BPM adoption.

    Solving business problems only with BPMN is like trying to make cake using only flour. ("Oh - the sugar is out of scope!")

    Market-wise:

    - unify the communication and the execution purposes of BPMN by having layered views (strategic / business / modelling / technical) on top of the same model. Business people don't need the technical details but everybody should work on the same model. The model will become like a picture where you could zoom to your own desired magnification (and resolution) to get the right info for you.

    - as said above, this will be achieved faster by delivering vertical applications (DSL anyone?), as the solution becomes more palatable to customers.

     

    The rest is just generic stuff, like having the right people, the right method, the right tools, the right budget etc

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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, May 21 2015, 03:36 AM - #Permalink
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    2 votes

    I'm with Ian (and not only because he used to be my boss :-) ). And when I go through most reactions I think most are on the same or at least similar page here.

    Next month I will publish an article in Computable (one of the Dutch specialised papers for IT technology) that addresses exactly the same question. Currently translating it into English. Summarized the article positions especially the letter "M" which IMO has suffered the most (and not only in this three letter acronym by the way). Reason I don't publish it in magazines where you would expect this view (BPM as a management discipline :-)) is obvious: You would only get a loud murmur of assent.

    So... Going on with trying putting BPM back to "where it belongs" might be pretty useless, an academical discussion say, but certainly a waste to spend a lot of time on. The way I threrefore nowadays go with this is simple: I use the acronym and immediately add the definition in order to be very clear about the proposition. And yes, perhaps we need to rebrand (which of course is the sad thing, as in the end the only thing you want is to improve the way how you get positive business results in all aspects).

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  • Accepted Answer

    Friday, May 22 2015, 09:36 PM - #Permalink
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    1 votes

    BPM should reinforce the importance of Change Management for the success.... and the interrelation with business and enterprise architecture.
    Rgds, M

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  • Accepted Answer

    Monday, May 25 2015, 12:31 PM - #Permalink
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    2 votes

    I agree with Bogdan regarding the missing domain and systems view.

    Absent data and integration leads to an incomplete narrative. Though the unfinished model is overly simplified and therefore easily understood, the missing details typically leads to a patch-work implementation with little to no planning for operations and support (no systems view = no systems).

    Same goes for critical feedback loops (i.e. archetypes) and various other non-standard features.

    Would be nice for our BPM standard(s) to include something more than extension hooks - maybe something concrete (or examples thereof) pointing at the more ubiquitous forms of domain definition, integration models, and technologies.

    Our open-source vendors look to be heading this way by the nature of their execution/runtime platform. But what should be a common standard then becomes a division of methodology and patterns.

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