1. Peter Schooff
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Suggested by Peter Hilton: In your experience, how does the understanding and practice of BPM vary between countries?

Accepted Answer Pending Moderation

I have a pet theory on this. Countries that are more socialistic tend to "get" BPM considerably more than capitalistic countries.

I think that socialist countries tend to see the value in the long run, and can get the different business silos to give up a little bit of immediate need/pain relief for the greater good. Whereas, capitalistic countries want it all up front and typically have to be forced to play well with the other business silos.

Just a theory of mine from the years of selling BPM solutions worldwide. :)
Living in a former socialist country (and hiving lived under socialism for about 15 years), I beg to differ.

The greater good only exists in theory. Socialism is based on the concept that wealth is generated at the production point, not at the sales point. So this is a highly localized optima, but with a so-called central plan that is supposed to harmonize the market. It doesn't work. It never did.

Socialist countries may appreciate the prescriptive control and the embodiment of a central coordination system as a process engine. But the doctrine doesn't really care about the outcome of the process, it only cares about the control.

Also, there is no real "B" in the socialistic BPM. It's all fake.
  1. John Morris
  2. 4 years ago
  3. #1845
I have to defer to my friend Bogdan, who has experience with "actually existing socialism". However I will also share my experience of having worked in North America with a quite a number of developers and architects trained in the Soviet Bloc, and trained to a very high standard they were, in maths, engineering and systems theory (although by systems theory this usually meant shop floor machine control and industrial engineering, not "macro systems theory" applicable to system-wide processes). I also note that systems theory and cybernetics were really only adopted in so-called socialist countries, and that such bodies of knowledge have never been popular in the West. Theory generally is regarded with some suspicion by Western management I think.

So Rachel, I completely concur with your "pet" theory, at least insofar as socialists "getting" it -- at least the theory part. But Mr. Nafornita's comment about value generation at production and not sales is profound. And certainly the extensive corruption of power under socialism undermined any theoretical advantage of systems theory and cybernetics.

Speaking of cybernetics, there has been some interesting work in recent years on a practical application of cybernetics in the West under the socialist Salvador Allende, in Chile, with the help of Stafford Beer, noted cyberneticist and author of "Brain of the Firm". One can also find more recent speculative work on the question as to whether the Soviet system might have performed better with today's computing power. At least part of the problem under Gosplan (the Soviet central planning bureau) was information overload, corruption notwithstanding. It's just impossible with paper, and possibly 370-era computing, to duplicate the information processing power of the price signalling mechanism found in a free enterprise.

So finally I have to accept Mr. Nafornita's judgement on the "Potemkin village of socialist BPM". But then again. large corporations in the West are virtual countries themselves and governance is not always what it could be. Perhaps we can separate culture and governance from business process management. Theory and practice have never been quite aligned. I guess this is the sales opportunity. Doesn't it always come back to sales?
RE “Also, there is no real "B" in the socialistic BPM. It's all fake.” Actually, it should not “B” even at the first place, but “G” for goals, for example Managing Goals Achievement by Processes (MGAP).

And, as far as I remember, we had some goals at Socialism time in a Socialist country.
yes, we did have goals in Socialism, but I know at least one country where most achievements were faked just so they look good on official Socialist statistics.

We even have a popular joke in Romania (apparently there's some truth to it): our dictator visited a cooperative farm and asked them what was their productivity - they quoted a number that was below the average. He started yelling and screaming "why aren't you above average? EVERYBODY should be above average!!"
What do you mean by "socialistic countries"? The most socialistic are countries like Sweden and France.
@Rachel, wonderful observations! I wonder, if "socialistic countries" still exist. In theory, socialism is a world of ruling BPM where everything follows well established processes and plans. Ironically, we all know how it all ends up in tremendous economic inefficiency. It should give us a second thought about "ideal" BPM,real BPM targets and objective limitations.
@John, awesome observation: "large corporations in the West are virtual countries themselves"
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Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
I suspect it varies as much between countries as it does within any single country, except where a country has a BPMs vendor that has a virtual monopoly or a consulting practice that has most of the market share.</p>
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Accepted Answer Pending Moderation

[b]French-speaking part of Switzerland[/b]

1) What is the difference between workflow and process?

2) We tried workflows and they didn’t work, maybe processes are better.

3) We tried processes and they didn’t work, maybe workflows are better.

[b]German-speaking part of Switzerland[/b]

We have developed something process-centric for a client and we got an excellent review for this BPM-suite tool from respected industry analysts.


Original ISO quality management was built from our usual practices. What is BPM?


We have a printed manual with all our processes. We plan to digitize them.... in Aris.


1) BPM? C’est la gestion d'entreprise par processus!

2) Quality unit: All our processes are perfectly documented in Aris. IT unit: Processes? Sorry, we must modernise our 7000 applications first.

[b]Somewhere in Africa[/b]

I will carry out only activities which are given to me by my boss. I will complete them at the last second before the deadline.


Processes? Let us outsource them to our partners from India.


priceless :-)
BONUS – BPM in country of agilists (followers of agile)

Title sentence: We will delivery for you an BPM application with excellent “time-to-market” and “customer-satisfaction” values – it is a quick-win for everyone!

Footnote sentence: Each implementation will be self-contained and optimized for our BPM-suite tool – no use of common data, own copy of master data, no common services, etc. Later, all your exotic integration needs can be taken into account by your team as a refactoring exercise (we may be not available at that time).
+1 @Alexander, absolutely encyclopedic and remarkably precise observations, especially for USSR, Russia and Switzerland, on which I have an experience among mentioned. I suppose It would be worth making dictionary with countries and opinions, where everybody can write a sentence on own country of expertise.
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Scott Francis
Blog Writer
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation

Definitely understanding and practice of BPM differs by country. Cultural differences are there, of course. But also, cost of labor often dictates the interest in BPM for solving problems. Ie, is it cheaper to throw more people at a problem or to automate the simple stuff or build a streamlined process for people to leverage?

Doing business is different country-by-country as well, which changes the role of BPM in the business. In a place where laying off workforce is not allowed or encouraged, BPM may be all about improving quality, performacne, customer experience, etc. In a place where jobs are more fluid, a reduction in headcount on a task that isn't perceived to be high value tends to get priority - in some cases so that you can reapply those heads to other areas of growth in the business.

The best advice I can give is to keep your eyes and ears open and make every effort to understand your customers. There's a lot to learn from them!

  1. John Morris
  2. 4 years ago
  3. #1848
Nice identification of the impacts of economics and law as differentiators affecting BPM adoption.
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Accepted Answer Pending Moderation

Business is actually quite simple when focused on how people work to create information and as such the discipline to adopt BPM thinking is relatively easy. However the delivery of the supporting software is where technology challenges start to differentiate the outcomes of a project. Does this technology delivery vary between countries yes I think it does.

The industry has thrived on complexity but now the delivery of the outside in BPM driven solutions requires a completely different approach that must deliver simplicity for business to understand just how. In general I am seeing huge resistance in countries who have long established supplier interests who dominate and find such simplicity a serious challenge to their business. This includes US, UK and northern EU. interestingly as you head south so adoption of the new becomes easier almost welcome! Yet it is the mature established organisations in the north that have so much to gain but are struggling with their legacy problem.

I think US in particular where most core vendors reside have held up progress for BPM support and made very tough to challenge their love of complexity. It is just a question of time but meanwhile a focus on emerging economies in south is a safer bet where the greenfields allow BPM to drive all operation business needs quickly and efficiently?
  1. John Morris
  2. 4 years ago
  3. #1849
Nice identification of business history as a differentiator affecting BPM adoption.
  1. more than a month ago
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Accepted Answer Pending Moderation

There is no much differences in methodology and/or technology used by BPM practitioners all over the world I guess. Yet there is the significant difference in the corporate culture, e.g. change adoption, risk acceptance etc. that affects BPM practice.

The huge "white spot" on the BPM map is China. Anyone knows about BPM vendors/implementors/practitioners/consumers from this country?
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