BrainStorm BPM Day 2: Andrew Spanyi keynote

I didn’t come to Chicago specifically for the snow, but it didn’t disappoint me nonetheless: big wet snow dripping down, just enough to get me wet crossing the road from my hotel to the Drake.

We started the day with a keynote by Andrew Spanyi, who I didn’t give a great review earlier this year for his talk at ProcessWorld, and it seems to be a very similar talk that he gave there about business process governance although he’s promising some new research data. Also, this time it’s at the beginning of the day rather than the end, so I likely have a better attention span. Besides, he’s a fellow Canadian (although transplanted to the US), so he knows how to pronounce “process” 🙂

He starts out with his 2003 and current definitions of BPM, the latter of which adds (no surprise) the words “management practice”, before putting in a plug for his two books.

The study that he did through Babson College was a “mindset” study, which explored the role of executive mindsets in enabling a BPM focus, with the hypotheses that if a firm has embraced business process thinking, then they’d have an enterprise-level business process relationship map, they’d measure things from a customer’s point of view, they’d have assigned process owners with accountability for cross-functional processes, and they’d have a plan for business processes within the organization.

Only a third of the 18 respondents (five, by the sounds of it), however, reported that they actually had all of these things (I have a question as to whether 18 data points is a statistically sufficient sample size, but then I never was all that good at stats). There were some common characteristics in these five companies: a supportive and vocal CEO, passion about performing for their customers, some sort of competitive or environmental threat, and a receptive culture within the organization.

The companies often used a framework to help them bootstrap their efforts, which allowed them to develop their process management models and plan in a relatively short period of time, and they were enjoyed a fair degree of success as corporations.

He went back to a subset of the original sample set for a follow-up survey — nine companies, four of which were in that earlier “leaders” category — and found that they still identified the same challenges. Some lessons learned emerged from this:

  • Change management is key and takes longer than you think.
  • IT enablement is critical to make all this happen, often by taking away the old tools and replacing them with newer tools.
  • Build an organization-agnostic view of the process.

The outcome from all of this is that the organizations are seeing more cross-departmental collaboration (and less finger-pointing) due to the end-to-end view of the business processes, and that there’s a much bigger focus on the processes rather than departments — ultimately, this process-centric view is what’s going to drive success.

In the Q&A, he made the statement that BPM and BI must converge, and that companies that he talked to in the survey said that they wouldn’t buy software unless it had both — and intriguing statement that I would have loved to hear more about.

I still found that Spanyi covers too much ground in a short period of time, and flips through his slides too quickly to absorb a lot of the information: there was one five-point slide with some pretty critical summary information, maybe 20 words in total on the slide, and I could only jot down the first three points before he flipped to a rather meaningless graphic where he stayed for two minutes. However, he’s obviously knowledgeable about this stuff and I liked his talk this time around.

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