Business Process Management (BPM) For Dummies

Posted by Gabrielle Guerrera on Thu, Apr 22, 2010
business process management (bpm)In an article entitled "Will GPS Make Us Dumb?" that expounded on advances in GPS technology, ABC News quoted Ian White, founder and CEO of Urban Mapping this way:

"When we develop a crutch for technology, we lose the ability to do that which we did previously."

As the organizational approach to business process management (BPM) develops over time, there have been many discussions around which technology or software suite will make optimization of existing processes easier to manage. There are many schools of thought around which BPM system will best assist in creating the "perfect process". Tibco, Lombardi, Savvion, Skelta, Cordys... the list goes on. But, you can't help but wonder if the fundamentals of the BPM discipline are being overshadowed by our own obsession with technology.

There is some validity to the idea that, as we rely more on technological innovation, we lose a bit of our edge in practicing the tasks necessary to be successful should (god forbid) this technology ever disappear from our organization's arsenal. Put more succinctly: Is technology itself making us dumb? The truth of it all is that BPM is more about business process and behavior than tools. It's a good thing too, since many organizations at this time have limited resources needed to invest in software, support, licensing, and maintenance.

While the IT PPM article in the March 8, 2010 issue of InformationWeek is mostly about using project portfolio management, there is good advice that can be applied to getting back to the fundamentals of business process management (BPM). Here are some excerpts with my interpretation:

First thing's first: "Decide on what problem you're solving and how to know when you've solved it."

Business process management (BPM) itself can be complicated, simply because you're changing the way people work. As with any problem, identifying the end goal (e.g., reduced time spent on a task, less resources required to complete a task, etc.) helps to quantify how close you are to it.

Next, don't be overly concerned with automated integration too early in your assessment.

It's very easy to weigh system integration as a "pro" more heavily than other benefits of the overall offering. Understanding your business needs well help avoid being distracted by bells and whistles that are not must-haves.

Remember to "manage the change".

Organizational change management is key to a BPM implementation. Forgetting to educate staff and support teams can quickly undermine even the best solutions. Quantifying your success with periodic measures of progress will be sure to convince skeptics who may not have been on board from the start. Also, don't be afraid to ask skeptics and proponents alike for feedback. Constructive criticism will help in making the deployed solution better for most, if not all, users involved.

Remembering to stick to the fundamentals of why we look to business process management (BPM) in the first place will keep things in perspective and help keep us on track for a successful implementation. Share your thoughts on BPM with the IT Project Blog! Do your projects ever get over-complicated?

Topics: Information Technology