It’s the third time this month that I’ve been at a conference with Jim Sinur of Gartner, and he’s giving the opening keynote here at Appian’s user conference. Although a lot of the local people are held up due to weather and traffic today, they’re expecting over 300 people here: a huge success given the poor attendance and even cancellations that we’ve seen with other BPM events this year.
He started out with some stats on the companies who submitted their achievements for Gartner’s BPM excellence awards: some outstanding examples of executive support and ROI, although you have to keep in mind that these are self-selected as “excellent”. There were, however, some unexpected results and out of the box thinking, where benefits from one organization were used to help those who were less fortunate, or unstructured processes were used to gain process improvement.
Unstructured processes used to handle exceptions within a more structured process are no longer considered unusual, but are a standard part of many processes that need to adapt to shifting conditions: they need to be considered an integral part of a business process rather than something to be avoided. Today’s agile processes allow businesses to deal with known exceptions, by allowing rules or processes to be changed on the fly, but future-thinking organizations have to be looking for unknown exceptions, and allowing their processes to be adapted for any scenario that might arise. There’s a huge amount of information that drives these scenarios and their early detection, including events from multiple disparate systems: the key is to look for patterns and understand the impact that they will have on your organization.
He outlined four disciplines of pattern-based strategy:
- Pattern seeking, to seek and exploit signals that apply to you, particularly through collaborative knowledge
- Optempo (operational tempo) advantage, to dynamically match organizational pace to changing conditions, requiring a harmonized and synchronized view of patterns across the organization
- Performance-driven culture, to adapt to changing patterns in order to achieve target results
- Transparency, enabling pattern-based strategy by exposing signals earlier
BPM is one of the technologies that helps organizations to adapt to the patterns, once they have been discovered and modeled in a seek-model-adapt cycle. We’re moving from managing processes to managing chaos, and pattern-based strategies are part of that.