In 2010, BPM industry experts conversed extensively on what exactly the term “BPM” implies, to whom, and where the discipline is headed. Just as in years past, predictions are all the rage as we reflect on the last 365 days and gear up to ring in the New Year. Although it is sometimes just hype (who can forget Y2K?), the recent collection of blogs and articles relating to business process management makes rather bona fide and seemingly factual assertions on what to expect in 2011.
If the recent snowstorm that blanketed much of the United States left you disconnected from your RSS feed, below is a blog medley of BPM in ’11:
14 Trends That Wil Change The Way We Do BPM – This is the thought-provoking post that I mentioned last week. As usual, Adam Deane is spot on in what we can expect in the future of business process management.
In 2011, IT Will Continue To Deploy Business Process Capabilities – Forrester’s Alexander Peters reminds his readers that it has been ten years since Forrester predicted the death of IT; the vast majority of IT departments have since gone through substantial restructuring and overhauls.
The Hottest BPM Trends You Must Embrace in 2011! – Clay Richardson, another leading analyst from Forrester, highlights certification programs and social BPM, among other industry developments.
The Top Twelve Customer Management Trends for 2011 – To round out the Forrester trifecta, analyst William Band discusses customer management trends,including the extension of business process management to front office functions.
Of course, these New Year musings didn’t happen overnight. 2011 has been on the minds of the BPM industry for quite some time. Even back in July, the talk was the future of business process management, as Adam Deane made fact-based calculations in The BPM Industry Will Generate $23 Billion of Hype in 2011.
EbizQ posed the question: What key developments do you see for BPM in 2011? There were various answers, one even including the radical notion of a BPMS delivered entirely through Facebook or Twitter. While I don’t see the likelihood of this, a BPM vendor does need to plan for continual adjustment of their BPMS in unison with the business process tribulations presently faced by organizations. Despite all the changes that come with each year, there is one guaranteed constant: people are the core of business process management and we, as an industry, focus on relieving their process pains. As mentioned by Chris Adams in Streamlined and Easier BPM is BPM Innovation: BPM "Take-Two", despite all the fuss about social/new technologies/etc in BPM, focusing on human usage and the "meat and potatoes" of business processes is fundamental and core. If the developments and trends help us reach this goal, we are on the right track.
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There is a German proverb that says something along the lines of, “Take the world as it is, not as it ought to be.” As I recently perused the business process management blog world, I stumbled upon Adam Deane’s 14 Trends That Will Change the Way We Do BPM, I had a slight revelation. Can BPM and BI actually correlate to what I learned during my Philosophy 101 class back in college?
It sure can, specifically when it comes to adaptability. BPM software enhances the efficiency of human-centric business processes. Humans and therefore processes, by nature, can be unpredictable. In knowing this, an organization exploring the plethora of process automation options should put ad-hoc functionality in solving those unpredictable and unstructured processes under their “Must Haves”. Fortunately, Ultimus BPM encompasses Adaptive Discovery technology. Recognizing the necessity for dynamic process management, the BPM actually “learns” what action should be taken in the future based on the present.
Take this scenario, for example: Steve, a manager at ABC Bank, receives many purchase requests. If the request is under $500 he has the ability to approve it. However, if the request is for $500 to $2,000 the purchase request may need to be re-routed to the branch manager or to the branch manager's boss for approval. Typically, for ABC Bank, all of the purchase requests are under $2,000. This being said, ABC Bank automates their process, makes it "live" and applies rules that direct the request to the appropriate management level depending on the dollar amount.
Once in a while, ABC Bank receives a purchase request for several thousand dollars. Because there are no rules in ABC Bank’s BPMS for a purchase request that exceeds $2,000, when a request of this size is submitted the process owner will be notified. At this point, the process owner edits the rules in the BPMS to direct purchase requests of $2,000+ to the CFO or other executive member.
Based on the action taken with the large purchase request and the new rules applied, the BPMS "learns" what action should be taken in the future for similar requests.
By only mapping out the most frequent scenarios (purchase requests under $500 and requests under $2,000), ABC Bank was able to launch their purchase request process quickly and, without delay, saw the time and cost savings with their BPMS. They essentially made their process "live" when it was only 70% complete, and through adaptive discovery they were able to add more pieces to the puzzle as needed. This is one of the many benefits of a BPMS with the ability to manage adaptive processes; without intricacy, processes can be quickly edited to meet the ever changing needs of your organization.
As the proverb indicates, you can’t know with 100% certainty all the potential scenarios you will encounter in business process automation. However, you can select an agile BPM solution that accommodates and responds to the unpredictable.
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I am fresh off the road from two consecutive weeks of international travel: 3 days in Latin America and 4 days in Europe. While the travel is hard, the rewards are great. Having the opportunity to hear firsthand how business process management is positively impacting customer operations is the ultimate feedback anyone can ask for (better than white papers, conference calls, emails, and blog posts).
I am thankful that Ultimus’ customers and partners are always gracious and hospitable when I visit them (especially the international customers who realize I am coming from a long distance). And while I love all of the stories where our BPM Suite provides mission critical value to their operations, I eventually ask them to quit being so nice and let’s start talking about challenges. Specifically, understanding the challenges, trials, and tribulations of BPM software provides arguably more value than receiving the “win situation” information. And frankly, no matter how great a software application is or how universal it may be, there are always challenges to overcome. No one software application is the universal solution for all needs.
Back in the mid to late 1990s, when workflow and BPM were new innovations, I regularly saw customers use Workflow and BPM Suites as the “backbone” to their entire IT stack. In this way, all other applications (database-driven applications, CRM, document management applications) were called upon as needed. For the customers with whom I recently spoke, I learned again what I already knew….today’s customer has greater needs than just process alone. In many cases, other applications outside of BPM provide more value in day-to-day, minute-by-minute business operations…and BPM is then called upon as needed. It is the responsibility of today’s BPM vendor to understand and respect this customer need. BPM Suites must be amorphous and fit into the “white space” of customer’s IT landscape. If it is the case that a CRM solution provides the ultimate value to a business (where the optimal value is provided back to the business’s own customers), then forcing a BPM solution to be the main software solution is the wrong approach. BPM Suites can provide great value to exceptional handling to other forefront software application. Moreover, by exception capturing, aggregating, and unifying exception information from numerous other systems, the importance of a BPM Suite in a company can be just as much as their main line systems.
If the only value a BPM vendor has to a customer is to be the “backbone” of their IT stack, then isn’t the “B” in BPM being overlooked?
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BPM, ACM, ECM... At Its Core, Your Company Simply has Process Needs
VP Product and Technology
When speaking to our prospects and customers, one thing stands out.
Most employees in an organization don't really care about business process management as a platform.
They just want the process pain to go away.
What process pain?
Everyone has gone through it. Maybe you're a salesperson or business traveler and are required to dig out those crinkled receipts from your wallet and place them perfectly onto a sheet of paper to fax or hand-deliver to the finance department. This is followed by the superfluous “waiting game” which you must play to ensure the expense report gets delivered and processed in a timely manner, and without errors.
Or maybe you're in Human Resources and are relieved to have finally found the right candidate for a position which was painstakingly difficult to fill. Undoubtedly, you aren’t as excited as you should be about this because the truth is, your job has just begun. Now you must coordinate the 101 steps necessary to get the new hire ready to start work.
Then again, perhaps you are like Gerry Young, SCIO of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, who realized that while the state didn't have money to spend on yet another popular technology tool, they could certainly do a better job consolidating their existing infrastructure. In doing so, they could be (and would be) reducing IT costs and taking the pain away for the hundreds of employees who engage across the 140 state agencies through the use of BPM.
So how do you make the pain go away?
One process to go, please.
Over and over again our prospects and customers tell us to just take away one process pain. After we take that pain away, the news spreads like wildfire through the organization. And, before you can say “process”, the next pain is articulated and the solution simulated.
Business process management isn't rocket science. Nor is it magical. It's simply creating a mechanism by which all employees with real process pain can discover, design, simulate, automate and continuously optimize day-to-day business processes.
And why on earth would you want to do that?
Because Ultimus BPM helps you work smarter, not harder. It puts money back into the business, not in technology.
Can you say “End of the year bonuses?”
Yes, I’ll have one process to go, please.
What are Your Go To BPM Resources?
Commonwealth of Massachussetts: Expanding on Process Improvement
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Business Development Manager
A few months ago, I would come home from work for nearly two weeks straight to a little piece of paper on my door. The paper always contained a feverishly written note pleading for the whereabouts of a neighbor two doors down. Not knowing the neighbor, I ignored the note. Many Americans had similar experiences with the 2010 United States Census. Although 74% of American households filled out and mailed in their questionnaire, it would appear that my neighbor was not one of them.
What does this have to do with business process management? A whole lot, which Brazil illustrated by taking a new approach for their decennial census. This new approach implements Ultimus BPM to expand the infrastructure for census researchers. Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatistica, or IBGE, is taking a technological leap in this year’s census, which it is in charge of, by automating census processes for the first time. In the December 6th article in Brasil Economico (or Financial Times in Brazil) detailed the method in which IBGE expanded their operational basis from 530 to 7,000 offices in an effort to collect information from over 5,000 municipalities as well as rural areas. In order to augment the structure quickly, IBGE decided to use software for process automation, analysis and optimization. New to the concept of BPM, IBGE chose Ultimus as their first-time process automation platform.
IBGE’s Executive Director, Sergio Cortes, spoke about the changes and explained how BPM allowed for resource gains (specifically, time and money) in the processes automated: “Before Ultimus, to be able to lease an office, it would take forty days. This time was necessary for checking to see if the property owners were in good legal and social security standing so that we could begin contract negotiations.” Streamlining the property leasing process has shortened this period of time, as they now make use of the internet and it only takes between two to five days. Cortes explained that over and above the gains and time, they also experienced savings in physical mail, postage and printing costs.
According to Cortes, the investment in BPM software has already paid for itself. Of course, he says, “There are also intangible benefits such as the ability to provide better services and customer satisfaction.” IBGE has automated and implemented ten processes thus far in the areas of human resources, purchasing, property leasing and contract reviews. Cortes has plans to automate an additional 70 processes in the next year.
Furthermore, the researchers in Brazil have been carrying out the polls using electronic devices. As many may recall, the U.S. had planned to use wireless handheld computers for the 2010 Census but nixed the idea due to mounting costs and reverted to the traditional pen-and-paper method. As cited by USA Today, reverting to a pen-and-paper census is one of the reasons the cost was expected to reach over $3 billion. Hopefully, the United States Census will jump on the BPM wagon come 2020.
To view the original article in Portuguese, click here.
[Valim, C.E. (6 Dec 10).IBGE de Salto Technologico com novo sistema usado para o censo. Brasil Economico]
Translation provided by David Almeida.
Commonwealth of Massachusetts: Expanding on Process Improvement
Process Optimization in Government and Healthcare
With the world at our fingertips, it can often seem like information overload… or “drinking out of a fire hose ”, a colloquialism I frequently hear in reference to business process management. For starters, industry experts are challenged to even agree on the definition of BPM. What is it, exactly? How will it solve problems? One thing is for sure… many of the resources out there are obscure, especially to an industry rookie like me.
However, there are several resources that have been instrumental in my gaining knowledge of the BPM enigma. Whether it be implementation or processes, choosing the right software (or is it the right solution?), or even comprehending the myriad of acronyms that are scattered throughout blogs, vendor websites, and Twitter – it can be hard to know where to look. The following are recommended resources worth bookmarking or subscribing to:
Adam Deane’s Business Process and Workflow
Adam Deane is a BPM consultant and technical lead with experience in every aspect of the BPM lifecycle. On his website, he provides refreshingly frank feedback on everything BPM related. He candidly explains that his writing has no set agenda and likens himself to a “fly on the wall” – listening, observing, and hopefully learning (and then spreading his knowledge through blog posts). He also maintains a BPM blog list in addition to a list of vendors.
Sandy Kemsley’s Column 2
Sandy Kemsley is a highly regarded independent analyst and systems architect with expertise in business process management, Enterprise 2.0, enterprise architecture and business intelligence. In addition, she has experience working on the business operations side of projects, provides BPM training and is a noted speaker. Column 2 is chockfull of valuable information, including a list of her past presentations (speaking engagements, webinars, podcasts), a calendar listing the multitude of events in the BPM space, and nearly seven years of blog posts and product reviews. Albeit she remains neutral in her writing, her current customers are no secret, as she publically displays the names of these vendors.
Max J. Pucher’s Welcome to the Real (IT) World!
If you prefer a spoonful of humor to help the BPM go down, or as Max describes it, “politically incorrect thoughts on information technology”, look no further. He is the Founder and Chief Architect of ISIS Papyrus Software. He is forthright in his belief that yesterday’s BPM is a “straightjacket for any business” as software solutions now need to be accessed on a contextual basis. As the blog title implies, Max has a knack for connecting real world situations to business processes, which is seen in a recent post dubbed “Process is Conversation, or ‘Did you hear the PIN drop’?”
If you are new to the concept of BPM, this site explains the difference between business process management and workflow and will provide you with a base to build upon. It describes how the two technologies are separate and distinct, details commonalities and explores frequent misconceptions regarding both.
Twitter is a powerful information sharing and research tool which you can use to follow topics, companies and individuals. Many industry experts use Twitter for micro-blogging important updates. In addition, Twitter is unique in its ability to capture conversations spanning time, subject matter and location. For example, through the use of hashtags (a topic with a hash symbol in front, i.e. #BPM), you can follow and categorize information of interest.
Of course, there are many useful BPM resources and these are just a few that have helped me conceptually grasp the expansive and ever-changing BPM space. What BPM resources do you have on speed dial?
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Marketing & PR Specialist