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A process exists for a purpose: meet or exceed customer expectations of the customer experience.

Fine and dandy, but what does this mean and how do we operationalize the definition? What strategic and tactical levers do we have to craft, operate and evolve a predictable customer experience?

This line of thinking is taking us towards a model for process quality of outcomes.

The field of business process management (BPM) is broad and has been approached in a number of ways:

Business process improvement focuses on improving the effectiveness and efficiency of individual processes for results that benefit the customer and the organization from a business perspective.

Process automation is an IT-centric approach that seeks to improve internal efficiency, control, and business agility by applying technology to speed the workflow, integrate heterogeneous systems and databases, and enforce business rules.

BPM as a management discipline seeks to manage and measure enterprise business performance from an “end-to-end” (customer-facing) process perspective and create a process culture for the organization as a whole.

Author: Prof Mark von Rosing, Prof. Paul Buhler and Henrik von Scheel

Since 2008, the Global University Alliance, consistent of +300 universities, academics and researcher have compared, analyzed and developed Best and LEADing Practices around process modelling and process architecture concepts. This includes process mapping, process relations, process rules, process measurements, process monitoring, process scorecards, process notations, linking business model and process model, process governance as well as aspects like link to strategy and goals. In this context the Global University Alliance conducted an extensive and wide-ranging research comparing existing process modelling, process engineering and process architecture concepts, method, approaches and standards. The Global University Alliance research analysis revealed the need for a fundamental shift in approach and thereby the need to totally rethink process modelling and process architecture. The foundation for this reconceptualization was to understand the objects that link and relate to the process aspects. Using ontology and semantic concepts and principles, this article describes short the results and the work that lead to the development of a new breed of process modelling capabilities that are collectively known as the eXtended Business Process Model and Notation (X-BPMN).

Henrik von Scheel and Prof Mark von Rosing

Social Media is both a threat and an opportunity

Organizations are traditionally used to being in control of customer interactions and have long built IT systems that push messages to the customer. It is clear, however, that social media and the consumerization of technology has already had an impact on customer’s daily lives and is here to stay.

Through social listening and an effective Business Process Management system, organization’s ability to listen to the conversation and respond through changing business processes will become a major differentiator. It is essential to combine social media data with unstructured and structured data from other sources to provide a holistic and representative picture of what your customers are saying. A social media strategy that is supported by an organization that is able to rapidly alter business processes, listen to and identify and manage risks early on, and also provide sales opportunities will be an effective one.

BPM projects are traditionally used to manage human-centric organizational processes. Recently I've seen more and more cases where BPM software is being used to tackle non-traditional scenarios - scenarios which would historically have been handled by other systems. Let's take a look at a couple examples, and then I'll attempt to provide a reason for why BPM was chosen in each case.

The first case is a CRM-related scenario. A Utilities provider required a system which would allocate CRM tasks to a group of service agents. The solution needed to calculate which agent had the skill level necessary and the time available to handle the task. So really, we're talking about queue management according to a set of business rules and real time availability. Does this sound like a job for BPM? Well, the company opted to use a BPM suite simply because the BPM suite already included out-of-the-box queue management and business rule features. These features (which are part of most modern BPM suites) made the project much simpler, despite the fact that there was no human workflow element involved - rather, simply a calculation and a one step assignment. The fact is that another back end or bespoke system could have been used, but because BPM suites have graduated to the level where they include many additional human-oriented features, it didn't matter that there was no actual "workflow" or "process" - BPM won out over the alternatives.

The second example we'll look at is a system which handles failed invoices. An invoice system for a major IT services provider often encounters failed invoices - invoices failing on a particular form - to the tune of hundreds per day. The provider required a system which would enable a group of agents to handle and fix such failed invoices and resubmit them to the invoice system. I won't go into all the details (this system included different types of users - those who decided how to fix the invoices, and those who performed the fix), but what the company really needed was a portal which enabled all these users to manage the failed invoices. Does this sound like a traditional BPM case? In fact, the provider opted for a BPM suite here too, since a BPM suite already has a pre-built portal which enables users and managers to handle hundreds of tasks per day. Each of these "Tasks" was mapped to a "Failed invoice", and in very short time, the BPM suite was customized to handle the entire situation. Here too, there was no standard BPM workflow or process, but because of the aspect of end-user task management, BPM won out over other options.

These cases are just a couple of hundreds and perhaps thousands of cases per year where companies are opting to use BPM for non-traditional BPM activities. This means that BPM is growing beyond its originally intended reach, and it will be interesting to see how far it continues to expand in the future.

Got the following suggested post from Forum contributor Michal Rykiert.  While we've covered the Cloud quite extensively before, it is always good to be reminded of the basics.  It is below:
 
4 Things to Consider Before Moving BPM to Cloud
 
By Michal Rykiert, WEBCON
 
Cloud is becoming more and more popular worldwide. Some even say it is currently fashionable to have it. Naturally, cloud arrived also at BPM world. Although marketers and salesmen would want us to use cloud right away, it is always good to consider certain solutions individually and independently.
 
The advantages of cloud BPM are well known and among them most commonly repeated are: low TCO, fast implementation and  easy maintenance. I think there’s no need for further comment in this area, as there are already dozens of articles about that on the Internet.
 
I’d like to point out several factors that are worth considering before making a decision whether to move BPM(S) to cloud or not. Please note I’ll be referring to ‘cloud’ as to all infrastructures and solutions offered by external providers.
 
1.       Integration –in most cases BPM system is not the first IT solution in a company, but usually an another one. Apart from optimizing/automating business processes, it’s task is also to integrate back office processes, that are handled by other systems. For those companies which already have some IT solutions implemented, whether on premises or in cloud, an integration may be a considerable obstacle. Making two separate systems work together (let’s say ERP and BPM) requires to have as good communication as possible. Only that ensures optimal outcome, especially when you consider the fact that usually BPMS is utilized by most, or even all organization’s employees. Using different systems in different clouds, will put you in the situation when any kind of integration is significantly more difficult.
 
Additionally, according to Oracle’s report ‘Cloud for Business Managers: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly’: ‘75% [of companies] say their ability to innovate using their cloud apps has been hindered and the main hindrance is a lack of integration (53%)’. That being said, research and deep consideration of possible outcomes (of implementation BPM in cloud) is necessary.
 
2.       Availability – my experience shows that sooner or later BPM suite becomes critical to most organizations that implemented it. It usually takes no more than 1-2 years. That being said, what if server’s motherboard goes down? How to handle situations like that? When you have an infrastructure on premise, you’ll be able to go to a store ‘around a corner’, buy a new one and migrate ad hoc. It may sound crazy, but life shows it happens!
 
When it comes to cloud service, you have no influence on how long repairs would take. Off course you can trust slogans such as “24/7 access”, offered by vendors of cloud based hosting services, but always check the actual policies and agreements you sign. The point is, not to stumble on situation when nobody in your organization cannot do their job and your only redress for a downtime, is a discount for additional service...
 
3.       Efficiency – when it comes to more complex and complicated business processes, efficiency and responsiveness might also be an issue. Recent research shows that not every cloud vendor and not every cloud service will guarantee the performance you may want to achieve. Therefore, before you move your BPM to cloud, conduct necessary tests to be sure you choice is right. Naturally, cloud also requires an investment in very high speed internet connection, especially when amount of end-users and interchanged data is considerable.
 
4.       Security – I think it is safe to assume that security level in cloud is equal or even higher than on-premise infrastructure. It applies both to IT (firewalls) as well as to physical protection, like e.g. fire suppression for servers. However, big companies and data centers are more likely to be attacked by hackers (I’m sure you’ve seen recent news). An infrastructure offered to thousands of clients, is more “attractive”, than a small, privately owned sever. It reminds me the famous quote: ‘With great power comes great responsibility’, and the reality shows sometimes it’s hard to live up to certain expectations.
 
Cloud BPM will be particularly useful for those companies which already moved their other solutions to cloud. One of the biggest advantages it offers, is that organizations can try whether certain solution works out for them or not. However, who has ever heard that correctly implemented BPM(S) that didn’t bring return on investment? :)
 
Ultimately, the question is: ‘What do we really need and what is more important for us?’ For now, there’s no better solution in general. Both cloud and on premise solutions have their pros and cons. The thing is not to follow hype and marketing slogans and evaluate solutions according to current situation and business strategy. Then choose the one that fits better.