Gartner Day 3: Bill Rosser and Elise Olding

We had two Gartner analysts for the price of one in this session on crafting a process vision and execution plan. My main interest here is how they’re advancing the business process maturity model (BPMM), but they started out with a more generic set of elements to create any strategic plan, including a BPM plan.

As Rosser pointed out, most organizations are still at level 0 (acknowledge operational inefficiencies), level 1 (process aware) with a bit of overlap into level 2 (intraprocess automation and control), with three more levels to go after that: interprocess automation and control, enterprise valuation control, and agile business structure. He went through a classification scheme for determining critical processes — typically those that impact the organization’s customers — then covered a business strategy framework for selecting strategic goals, mapping that through the drivers and strategy and on to how that can be accomplished with the appropriate business processes.

Olding took over at this point to discuss the specifics of a BPM plan and what it does for you: a process to achieve results, a message to the stakeholders, a plan for action, and measures for determining success. She then went through each of these four roles of the plan, first identifying a number of steps to take in creating the plan, starting with creating the vision (but an understandable and specific vision, not a buzzword-enabled sweeping statement), through the identification of goals, resources, measurements and other factors need to have a complete and detailed plan. She also emphasized the importance of the BPM plan being a living document that is updated as work progresses and factors change. Next is identifying the stakeholders (business, IT, executives and even vendors) and including the appropriate message for each of those stakeholder groups in the plan, which in turn defines the outline of the plan to be presented to the stakeholders. She then discussed the details of how to determine a specific timetable and resource allocation for the plan, and how to set the project objectives and metrics. Governance should be baked into the strategic planning process; for example, part of the BPM plan should be an independent post-implementation review that audits how well the objectives were met.

Strategic planning is an essential activity that needs the right people and some time to do the planning, but it shouldn’t stretch beyond about six weeks, and definitely shouldn’t happen in a vacuum apart from the business area affected. Olding laid out the critical success factors for strategic planning — strategic alignment, methodology, people, feedback, access, results evaluation, and time — and covered each of these in some detail from her practical experience in industry.

They finished up with some future predictions for BPM planning. First, closer links with enterprise architecture, especially business architecture; I completely agree with this, and have been pushing the link between EA and BPM since the beginning of my writings here (in fact, the name of this blog is based on the rather obscure and geeky reference to column 2 of Zachman’s EA framework, which defines process). Second, they see wider use of user-friendly process modelling tools; again, this trend has been advancing for the past couple of years, accelerated by many of the free downloadable process modelling tools from the BPM vendors as well as even simpler process discovery tools. Third is the greater use of repositories in order to facilitate reuse; I’m seeing this being enabled by some of the BPA and BPM tools now, although it’s slow to catch on in most end-user organizations. Lastly, leverage the benefits of SOA; again, this is enabled in the current tools, but the actual usage is lagging because of the immaturity of many organizations’ SOA implementations.

Aside from the one standard BPMM slide, there wasn’t anything about the maturity model; I was expecting to see Gartner starting to incorporate more BPMM concepts into BPM planning by this time. In fact, most of this was not specific to BPM at all except the final predictions: I think that Rosser and Olding are not specifically BPM experts, but more strategic IT planning experts, so they’re just putting a faint BPM spin on the research from their area.

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