Forrester Keynote at Appian World: Realizing the Promise of BPM

It’s the last morning at Appian World, and Clay Richardson from Forrester is delivering the opening keynote on getting value out of your BPM initiative. He pointed out that the pace of change is accelerating, but the innovation of management practices has slowed. We have a mess of applications inside our business that have been put in place to address the change, but not very many good tools to manage how all those applications work together.

BPM provides language and tools for business transformation, allowing you to transform your business from traditional functional management to horizontal centers of excellence, moving from vertical/functional silos, to functional with process overlays, to processes with functional overlays, to a purely horizontal service and process-driven organization. Each stage of BPM evolution delivers great value: as you move from process modeling to execution, then monitoring and optimization. Not only does this increase value for the organization, but it moves the visibility of BPM up the food chain within the organization, so that the executives are using it as a measure of how well that your business is doing. To do this, it’s necessary to balance technology and methodology; as we all know, BPM projects aren’t purely technology, but they do need some technology to support the process discipline.

Forrester has developed a framework for looking at BPM’s economic impact, balancing the technology cost, the business value, the options that are created in terms of flexibility, all filtered by the uncertainty associated with any transformative initiative. They looked at five areas of benefits from the end solution, from cost savings to compliance, plus project factors such as increased business engagement in BPM projects to increase quality, speed and adoption of the new methods and solutions; increased developer efficiency; and reduced time to handle change requests. In their research, they found that process architects/analysts in particular had a huge impact on the success of BPM projects (which makes me, as a process architect, feel pretty good) because they can straddle business and IT concerns, and keep the focus of business on the KPIs of the process rather than irrelevant implementation details. They also considered several risk categories – implementation, impact, strategic and measurement – and how to mitigate some of the risks in a BPM project.

They’ve wrapped all of this up in a report on best practices framework for BPM suites (available for purchase from Forrester, of course), and Clay talked about some of the best practices around skills, including BPM-related certification programs that are available, and using the social enterprise to engage the right people in BPM discovery, development and runtime efforts. He also discussed the value of cloud computing to accelerating delivery and minimize risk.

These factors all come together to create highly evolved BPM programs, where a BPM center of excellence is responsible to the executive level, and helps to transfer some of the BPM project tasks such as analysis and modeling over to the business to accelerate BPM projects.

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