Forrester Day 1: Automating Business Processes panel

Connie Moore moderated a panel on automating business processes, featuring David Knapp of Ford, Pamela Rucker of Philip Services and Theo van den Hurk of ABN AMRO. The room is considerably less crowded than this morning, so I’m guessing that there’s some golfing going on (probably all the CIOs whose golf games were rained out last week at the Gartner conference in Orlando). I really like how they use the big projection screens to show live video of the panelists; I’m sitting way over on the side to score some power for the laptop, so can’t see two of the presenters directly.

Moore talked about Forrester’s BPM maturity framework, which I’ve never seen before but it’s similar enough to BPMM and others that I’ve seen: moving from process knowledge to process efficiency to process consistency to business optimization to business transformation, where most companies are in the efficiency stage, moving towards consistency.

Each of them told a bit about what they’re doing with BPM:

  • Ford is another Lombardi customer that’s just getting their implementation started (it’s sort of ironic, considering that Ford pioneered the concept of the assembly line, that they’re only now getting around to business process automation). They’re a big Six Sigma shop, and are looking at getting some automation and metrics in place, then drive towards optimization using BPM. They’re using BPM in large part for orchestration of their existing legacy systems.
  • Philip Services has a mandate to innovate, but no extra budget to do so, which is a common problem in organizations; they don’t use BPM software but are effectively building their own in code or within the enterprise systems.
  • ABM AMRO is using SAP and Oracle as their enterprise systems, and as far as I could tell, they’re not using a BPM suite to orchestrate that but are relying on the processes within those enterprise applications.

Knapp showed an interesting slide if how BPM bridges the gap between end user computing and full-on IT application development; I think that there’s also an overlap between mashups and BPM at some part of that spectrum. Ford has an enterprise process committee that looks at process management across the organization, especially focussing on the discontinuities (hand-offs between functional silos), and decides which processes to implement. However, they’re still narrowing down and deciding which processes to implement.

Rucker said that two major issues for them was having the business take ownership for business process management, and getting away from siloed process optimization (like the accounting department) to look at end-to-end processes (like order to cash). They even got the CEO involved to drive home these points home to people.

van den Hurk talked about the complexities introduced by having several outsourced vendors involved in their systems as well as their own IT people; just getting all the stakeholders to sit down together was a challenge. ABN AMRO looked at heat maps for operational budget areas to figure out where the money was being spent, as well as what the business reported as the pain points.

There was a question about metrics, monitoring and dashboards: Ford is designing it into their systems; Philip put it in after the fact when they realized that processes weren’t improving and had no visibility into why; ABN AMRO also is building it in based on the business needs.

As panels go, this was pretty conversational rather than a series of mini-presentations: good to attend, but harder to blog about in a coherent fashion.

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