Gartner BPM: The BPM Scenario: A Change from Business as Usual, Janelle Hill

Janelle Hill addressed the issues of what’s really new in BPM and how it can change how you do business. She starts off by discussing how BPM is different from older business process reengineering techniques:

  • Process orientation complements functional organization, along the lines of what Rummler was discussing yesterday: processes overlay functional silos, which drives matrix management so that processes can be managed end to end.
  • Processes must be effective and transparent, not just efficient.
  • Processes must be adjustable (sometimes by process participants), not perfect, in order to adjust to changing customer requirements.
  • Small incremental improvements must be harmonized with larger transformative change.

Gartner defines an explicit process as one that it visible and independent from its implementation; namely, the process has been modeled separate from context manual or automated context. This type of modeling and the management of the explicit processes is essential for effectiveness and innovation; it allows for the establishment of process KPIs and allows you to model potential changes to the process. These process models provide a view of work in progress; as these models are implemented in BPMS, they become the visual metaphor for the work for monitoring and management purposes. They also provide a method of communicating about the process, both between business team members as well as between business and IT.

This also leads to new management techniques. Management becomes more real-time as the process monitoring tools allow for view of what’s happening right now in the business process, instead of managing through the rear-view mirror via historical reports. Typically, a process-centric view encourages collaboration among team members, and also encourages participation by the process workers. Both business and IT workers have different roles: the business user may be assembling their own solutions, while the IT person is designing and building components to be assembled.

She looks at a number of key factors for determining when a BPMS might be used:

  • Strong focus on coordinating multiple resources to create successful work outcomes, including people, systems, information and policies.
  • The process crosses a large number of boundaries.
  • The process is poorly understood.
  • The process is customer-facing or partner-facing.
  • The process is more susceptible to external or internal disruption.
  • Business will be responsible for change management, not IT.

If these factors aren’t present, then a more traditional coding approach might be used.

Hill went through some of the process design patterns — I saw this at the previous summit and really liked it, since I use something quite similar with customers — in order to map process characteristics onto different styles of processes, and therefore onto a subset of the BPMS products that might best suit those needs. The three most common patterns that they see with BPMS are case management, form-driven workflow, and participant-driven workflow.

She finished up with the BPMS magic quadrant, and explained that there are so many vendors in the leaders quadrant because they’ve changed the definition of what’s included in BPMS; I see that as a reason why there’s more vendors in the magic quadrant overall, but not why it’s so heavily weighted to the upper-right quadrant. She believes that consolidation for the purposes of acquiring technology functionality has already mostly occurred. She also sees that the larger platform vendors such as Microsoft are focused on software development as the primary method for BPMS rather than model-driven approaches that limit the amount of code.

She believes that this is not the time (yet) to pick the enterprise-standard composition platform, because no one tool handles all of the six process styles that she showed earlier. This is still not a mature market, in spite of the purchasing activity going on.

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