BPM.com
Nathaniel Palmer has been a longtime BPM industry leader, and I thought being able to work side-by-side with him would be invaluable.  And this is BPM.com, after all, which might give you some clue as to my answer to a question that would occasionally pop up on the old ebizQ forum, which is: "Is BPM Dead?"  Not a chance! Still, that's not the main reason I wanted to join BPM.com.  You see, last year, when I first heard about the bpmNEXT conference (brought to you by Nathaniel and Bruce Silver), my first thought was, that sounds interesting, but exactly how are they going to differentiate themselves from all the other BPM conferences crowding the spring schedule. But as bpmNEXT got underway, and I started reading the blog and Twitter feedback, it quickly became clear that something new was happening at the conference.  People were getting excited about BPM all over again.  People were no longer debating if and when BPM was going to be dead, but were instead excited about what was to come.  Very simply, I wanted to be a part of that!  So that's the reason I've moved over to BPM.com.  No longer do I have to be an armchair conference attendee (and that's sooner than you think, as we have the iBPMS expo coming this October).  Once again, I get to plug into the BPM buzz firsthand. So I want to welcome you to the new BPM.com.  We will have the BPM.com forums up and running next week, and we will be introducing additional content in the weeks to come.  I think we are at one of the key crossroads with BPM, as we now have to contend with big data, social, mobile, and case management.  Enterprise technology is redefining what it means to be doing business as a company today.  And at BPM.com, I have the perfect front row seat.  

OpenText has been busy over the last year building a competitive channel strategy, which has been evident in its aggressive realignment of its sales team and partner channel, but also with its recent (7/31/31) acquisition of ICCM Solutions, a current partner who built a successful “Assure” ITSM/ITIL solution on OTEX’s MBPM (formerly Metastorm) platform. This move presents channel complexity not seen with the ICCM acquisition, while offering a technology leverage point (or several of them) that rivals OpenText’s half-billion dollar combined acquisition of Metastorm and Global 360 in 2011. Anyone who had any doubt about the importance that data and business intelligence will play in the future of processes need look no further than today’s move. As their CEO Mark Barrenechea stated today, "OpenText envisions a world where information and processes are fully integrated, enabling the next generation of Enterprise Information Management applications with out-of-the-box software." Cordys brings serious integration chops to the “Enterprise Information Management” equation, as well as a Composite Application Framework (CAF) that makes their $33 million dollar price point a very attractive deal. Where OpenText competitor Kofax has made very serious in-roads with BPM in the cloud, on both data integration (vis-à-vis Microsoft Azure) as well as application provisioning, this exciting acquisition really does raise the bar. It is yet another proof-point that the BPM market remains as hot as ever – in particular for leveraging BPM software an application development framework. Whether we’re reaching the end of the wave of BPM market consolidation, or just the beginning, stay tuned. But we expect this market to get even hotter, very soon. Additional Details: OpenText Buys Cordys to Expand BPM and Case Management http://www.becauseprocessmatters.com/value-of-options/

The term ‘BPM’ has been adopted in the marketing communications of just about every IT vendor and management consultant, as what comes after the dot-com fiasco. It seems everyone selling IT products or management consulting services has put BPM lipstick on their products and services. Even the IT and financial analysts are having a field day defining BPM to mean whatever they want it to mean.

Although confusion abounds, a handful of useful working definitions can bring about some badly needed clarity. Figure 1 provides a backdrop for our discussion.

Business Process
The business process is the end-to-end coordinated set of collaborative and transactional work activities carried out by both automated systems and people to produce a desired result or achieve a goal. While this definition is simple enough, the coordination of complex sets of activities carried out by independent work participants (humans and machines) is by no means simple. Business processes are essentially human phenomena, but in today’s automated and wired world, automation and technology assistance to amplify human work are indispensable. This technology assistance involves automation of routine transactions and dynamic human collaborations, as suggested in the figure.

In his classic work on value chain analysis, business strategy expert and Harvard professor Michael Porter classified work activities into two types. Primary activities are those that directly touch the customer, while support activities are those that are primarily administrative, keeping the rent paid and the lights turned on. Using Porter’s framework, it’s the primary, end-to-end customer-touching processes that are paramount to gaining and sustaining competitive advantage. It is these primary business processes that deliver value to customers, and they are a company’s value-delivery system—all the rest, the support activities, are costs.

While support activities require management attention as means to make a company more efficient, primary activities require laser-focus to make a company effective in the marketplace.

Business Process Automation (BPA)
BPA simply means automating a business process. Since the advent of the first commercial computer in 1951, companies have embraced technology to streamline and speed up their support activities for greater operational efficiency. As far as primary activities, today a number of technology families have emerged for this purpose, including workflow systems and, more recently, Internet technologies such as application servers. While just about any technology can be used to automate business processes, the real issue companies face is how to optimize and manage those processes after they have been semi- or fully automated.

As promised in Part One, here are four more ways to analyze the process diagram.

Part One showed a Visio process diagram.  Here is the a diagram of a Deferment Loan Process in the standard BPMN.

Matthew Fontaine Maury

Making Business Processes More Transparent Through Data Analysis

Big Data already existed in the 19th Century. At least that might be the conclusion you would draw by looking at the story of Matthew Maury. We draw a parallel with the first systematic evaluations of seafaring logbooks and show how you can quickly and objectively map processes based on the evaluation of log files in IT systems.

There are probably a hundred analytical techniques for improving a business process, but four are required and swim lane analysis is one of them.  (For more information on the other three see my blog, “We Finished Modeling Our Processes? Next is Optimization–WRONG “)

After creating the charter, and selecting the sponsor, process owner, project lead, facilitator and team members, one of the first things the BPM team does is model the current state process using a swim lane model, also called a cross functional deployment model. This is a process diagram showing the steps and decisions/gateways in the process by role.   This task in itself can be eye-opening and motivating. (See other i4Process blogs,
Isn’t There a Simpler Way to Model a Process?” and “Which Process Improvement/BPM Diagramming Notation Should We Use?” Parts 1 and 2 for more information.)  While diagramming the current state employees see the whole process, note how their part impacts another part of the process, identify current problems, and suggest improvements.  They also learn the basics of diagramming a process and how to use the notations and communicate the flow, steps, and decisions with them.