Challenges of Being a BPM Pioneer: Part 1 - Manufacturing The Automation Artefacts Of Business Capability

Paper 3 Part 1BPM software technology is like all technology.

Technology is the umbrella term given to the set of artefacts or tools that we use to help us with our work. Thus technology is a “force multiplier” for human brawn or human brain.

Uniquely in a model-driven technology such as BPM technology, we manufacture these work automation artefacts ourselves. In fact, BPM technology is a system of artefacts for manufacturing business process artefacts! This BPM manufacturing two-step is a source of both the power, and some of the challenges around BPM technology.

With BPM software technology, the artefacts we make with technology help us get more business process work done. Specifically, in the context of a business BPM programme, we use BPM software technology in support of “making and evolving models of process work”.

This discussion of technology manufacturing highlights what until now has been the work of IT or the work of IT vendors. The BPM idea is for business peoples to become involved with “manufacturing more process automation artefacts faster”. Let’s see how this is done.

BPM Automation Artefact Life-Cycle

BPM Automation Artefact Life Cycle

The BPM Automation Artefact Life-Cycle diagram shows the work of manufacturing new process automation artefacts. It seems fairly straightforward. We model the process. Then we make the usable process artefact. A process automation artefact is the result, ready for our use in day-to-day business. And it’s likely that we will keep improving process over time.

This sounds simple, but as we’ll see below however, there are challenges. On one hand, BPM work automation technology is extremely powerful. But on the other hand, “reality is rich”. We are not yet at the stage where it’s easy to capture any and all sensible business process patterns and have them turned immediately into usable automation artefacts.

We’re close! We can even say that most common business process work patterns can be turned into BPM artefacts quickly and easily. But as corporate, government and non-profit business value chains get more and more sophisticated, we are also seeing increasingly complex business processes that need automation. And especially with outsourcing, application systems disaggregation and Internet of Things business models, cross-firewall dependencies and complex correlations add even more complexity pressure on process models.

Given this business demand for more and more powerful process technology, let’s look at the four phases of the automation artefact manufacturing life-cycle. We’ll start with a quick look at the beginning and ending of the artefact manufacturing cycle. Then we’ll do a deep dive into the middle of the cycle. It’s in the middle of the cycle where we will meet both challenge and opportunity.

Imagination 1 All The Way To New Business Capabilities 4

The work of business starts with business! This may seem obvious, but it’s important to validate that the whole purpose of BPM technology is to empower managers. And that empowerment is about turning thoughts into business capabilities. So the beginning of any automation artefact life-cycle is thinking and discussion. It is the thinking and discussion that is the basis of the process modeling that we will discuss in the next section.

Then finally, after all the modeling and after deploying your new business process automation artefacts, you’re almost ready to go – “almost” because like any new software, you will want to ensure that your front-line staff and managers are ready, and that they’ll be able to successful use the new process.

It’s likely that your process alters the way business is done; in that case you will want to ensure a smooth transition. So, training and support are orders of the day. This is Gap “C” C-Arrow

If you have in place an opportunity for feedback on your new business process, you’ll be able to start evolving and improving your new process from day one. Remember that being able to evolve your business processes on an ongoing basis is really only possible with BPM software technology. Because you have deployed a new process based on process models, you truly can make changes and have them deployed in hours or days.

That’s the beginning and ending of the new process manufacturing process. Next, let’s now look at what happens “in the middle”.

Pointer Next up in the Series -- Paper III, Part 2, Management Work: Modeling Processes:: Modeling is work too! What are the secrets to better modeling? And what are the limitations of modeling that aren’t highlighted in sales brochures?.

Paper Road Map

There are four papers in the Series: Explore BPM Technology As Revolutionary Enabler:

  1. The first Paper, “Why BPM Is Unique & Important”, introduces the exciting topic of BPM software technology and why BPM so relevant to business today. Work, process and modeling are revealed as built-in to BPM software, enabling rapid construction of new business capabilities. Published in five parts.
  2. The second Paper, “Minimum Viable Definition Of BPM”, introduces the whole BPM ecosystem but then zeros in on the Minimum Viable Definition. Promotion and adoption of BPM software technology is facilitated when the unique value of core BPM is clearPublished in two parts.
  3. This third Paper, “Challenges Of Being A BPM Pioneer”, highlights technical keys to success for a BPM programme. BPM software technology is not mature, and “results may vary”. However, there are ways of narrowing the “cone of outcomes” for your BPM programme.
  4. The fourth Paper, “Adoption Process & BPM Institutionalization”, covers how BPM software technology adoption can accelerate beyond the current technology grid-lock, a process which is less about technology and more about community.

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John Morris