I wrote last year that the business process market had essentially hit a wall, with organizations paying too much attention to process automation -- how work moves through an organization -- and not enough attention to the contributions of workers -- how work actually gets done. Industry pundits are touting 2010 as the "year of BPM," noting that process management is a top priority for CIOs.
But how do organizations break through the wall to achieve BPM success -- and prove the pundits correct?
It helps to think of BPM not as a technology but as a management discipline that involves actively managing the end-to-end work that organizations perform to create value for their customers, and if implemented effectively, for their shareholders. It is best implemented as a formal corporate commitment to improved productivity and competitiveness.
Executed effectively, BPM will deliver best-in-company processes, develop a "culture of winning" within an organization and distinguish a company within its industry. BPM should support a "business driven" implementation, led by both the dynamic needs of the business as well as the daily work of the business participants.
With that in mind, consider which type of process is the best fit. All have the potential to impact the bottom line:
Structured vs. Unstructured Processes
Processes such as supply chain or stock trading transactions tend to be very structured, requiring minimal human involvement. They are also known as integration-centric processes, in which BPM provides IT a toolset for doing application development in a very process-centric way, with consultants typically helping with implementation.
To determine which type of process you're working with, ask if there is a lot of paper involved, many manual hand-offs of information -– do people need to be involved, collaborate and make decisions in order for the process to move forward?
Whereas processing a stock trade is fairly straightforward and requires minimal human interaction, opening a customer account, for example, is anything but straightforward and involves many changing variables. This kind of unstructured, less-scripted process requires a high degree of flexibility and the ability to let participants drive it.
Typically, unstructured processes are harder to automate, and most obvious processes that are more structured have already been taken care of. Many companies don't think of unstructured processes as processes at all -- but they should.
Low-Risk To Automate vs. High Risk
Here, the key questions to ask are how mission-critical is the process and how many departments does it touch. For example, employee on-boarding is relatively low-risk since it is not a customer-facing process and errors can be fixed manually. A customer service-related process, on the other hand, is likely to be high-risk since errors can touch the customer and have severe consequences. Opening a new customer account, for example, always involves a human touchpoint to initiate the process, and is very poorly handled by many companies for two reasons: (continued...)
Posted: 2010-07-04 @ 5:03am PT
"It helps to think of BPM not as a technology but as a management discipline ..."
Based on a thorough understanding of the BPM-approach, I strongly applaud your statement.
HOWEVER, 'thinking differently of' BPM will - obviously - not help. It all depends on redesigning 'BPM' accordingly, which means FROM THE GROUND UP.
As to the outcome of such a re-design, why call it BPM any longer? As a matter of fact, BPM - outside the stratum of purely functional automation (Logistics) - is a veritable nightmare or daydream, if you prefer.
Max J. Pucher:
Posted: 2010-06-16 @ 8:42am PT
Actually, I think BPM is still overhyped and about to fall on its face!
Only 20% of processes can be analyzed and automated and the rest needs much more than simple BPM. It also needs a consolidated functionality of BPM, ECM, CRM, business rules and E20 capabilities.
Do you still want to call it BPM? That is certainly a choice but you can call it ECM, ACM, social or anything else you want.
With ISIS Papyrus we focus on providing a consolidated customer service focused capability that is far beyond all these market fragments of products.