BPM as part of BAM

A few more notes on today’s ebizQ webinar on BAM. Ms Gold-Bernstein talked about another topic close to my heart, namely that BPM is one of the contributing sources to BAM/performance management, rather than BAM being a part of BPM (as the BPM vendors would have you believe). The term “BAM” was originally coined by Gartner, so they’ve had first dibs at saying what is and is not BAM:

BAM defines the concept of providing real-time access to critical business performance indicators, along with the supporting information to improve the speed and effectiveness of business operations.BAM is accomplished by monitoring multiple systems, creating real-time dashboards, and using context and rules to detect the occurrence of a pre-defined set of circumstances.

They list BAM technologies as including BPM, integration middleware (arguably part of BPM under Gartner’s own definition), BI, dashboards with KPIs (which I would consider part of BI), and IT operational management (ditto). Since BAM is defined as a concept and is linked to all of these technologies, there are a lot of vendors from all different areas scrambling to get into BAM magic quadrant — not unlike what’s happening with BPM vendors ever since Gartner lumped together all process-related technologies as “BPM”.

To confuse things further, Gartner’s report on the convergence of BPM and BAM lists three main areas of overlap, and therefore potential conflict:

  • BPM acting as “BPM+BAM”
  • BPM serving as BAM’s response mechanism or recipient
  • BPM ? or business process analysis (BPA) ? serving as a passive analytic/visualization model for BAM

Prior to Gartner defining BAM, there was performance management, which is more focussed on the BI side of the equation, including technologies such as BI, dashboards and, lately, CEP (complex event processing). Although the goals of performance management are fundamentally the same as BAM (business alignment, real-time KPIs), the scope is narrower by excluding BPM and middleware technologies.

Somehow, the concept of performance management as pure business intelligence makes more sense to me than including (rather arbitrarily) some of the technologies that produce the data that feed into the performance management. If BPM is included as one of BAM’s technologies, why not databases, or CRM, or any other technology within an enterprise that produces data that may be of interest to management? In fact, if there’s a technology within an enterprise that doesn’t contribute data to performance management KPIs, why is it there?

Strategic process optimization

A webinar going on right now on BPM, BAM and SOA: Optimizing both Business and IT focussing on the ROI of process integration. Beth Gold-Bernstein contrasted the tactical versus strategic approaches to process integration:

  • Tactical approach requires defining underlying integration infrastructure
  • Strategic approach — enterprise integration architecture defines infrastructure, business defines the process

This goes back to one of the key ideas that I’ve been working with lately, namely the role of process and BPM in an enterprise architecture framework.

She also made a distinction between web services orchestration and business process management, where she sees WSO as providing a graphic way to design and control flow between web services, but without all the process governance (monitoring, analytics, management and simulation) that you would find in BPM. Given the role being assigned to BPEL, is this just another artificial distinction in the process marketplace?

BPM and measuring performance

A week ago today, I was in a tutorial by Roger Burlton of the Process Renewal Group on Enterprise Business Architecture: Strategy, Process and Capabilty Alignment while at the BPMG conference in London. He made a great analogy regarding performance measures: knowing the final score doesn’t tell you if it was a good game. (Although after once watching the Blue Jays lose 22-2, I posit that you could have told that it was a crappy game by the score alone.) Roger was one of many people at the conference who spoke about BPM in the context of measuring business goals. To quote Terry Schurter, who I heard speak the following day at his session BPMS – Selection by Business Value, “goals that can’t be measured aren’t goals”.

All this shows that BPM is finally creeping out of departments and into the mainstream of the enterprise. I read a post about a CEO’s view of BPM as discussed at a recent CEO roundtable today on the Milestone Group’s Thoughts On The Tech Industry blog that really nailed it:

BPM, or Business Process Management is the fasting growing segment in the BI / Data Management market sector. Growing out of departmental process management initiatives, the key driver now is to integrate across the enterprise, and to provide scorecards, reports, and other “C Level” deliverables with more confidence, so that predictive modeling and optimization initiatives are really based on the most complete and highest quality set of data available in the enterprise.

The CEOs consider BPM as a feed for enterprise BI/performance management, which is completely accurate — after all, why else would you be doing BPM if not to improve performance, and why would you be doing anything to improve performance if you weren’t also including it in your enterprise performance measures?

A nod to BPM and EA

When I started this blog a couple of months ago, I didn’t give a lot of thought to naming it, and decided just to be descriptive: hence “Sandy’s Biz Blog”. Can you tell that I’m an engineer and not a marketer?

My inner marketing voice spoke up this week — part of the overactive synapse response to the stimulating conference environment — and I had an overwhelming urge to rebrand. Since I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how BPM intertwines with EA, I’m giving a nod to Zachman with the new name, Column 2. (For those of you who aren’t EA aficionados, column 2 in the Zachman framework is where the process models live; although BPM is bigger than just column 2, I thought that it was a cool name.)

If you subscribe to this site, you can change to the new FeedBurner feed location here, although I’ll keep the old one active too.

BPM tools and methodologies

The Gartner webinar that I dropped in on yesterday had some interesting points about modelling and methodologies that started me thinking.

First, on methodologies: it’s absolutely essential to have some best practices to lend structure to your BPM project. Don’t do this alone, get the help of someone like me (okay, it doesn’t have to be me) who has actually implemented BPM projects before. Whenever you change a business process, there’s a whole lot more than just technology going on, and you don’t want to get caught in the classic IT trap of believing that the business users will be just as excited about the new technology as you are (remember, they didn’t get to play with the Java code).

There were comments in yesterday’s webinar about how the soft benefits are becoming more significant, including internal factors such as real-time business agility and a process-focussed culture. However, you can’t expect your organization to change because of the introduction of BPM technology; instead, your organization needs to make cultural changes driven by business factors and enabled by the technology.

On modelling tools, I made the statement last month that most people are using Visio to model their business processes before they are implemented in a BPM system, which is true. However, just because it’s true doesn’t mean that it’s the best way to do this. If you use a standard modelling notation such as BPMN or UML activity diagrams, you’ll do fine up to a point with Visio, but somewhere along the way to your “to be” process, you’re going to need a more serious tool for process simulation and the like. If you check out the BPtrends report on modelling tools that I reviewed last week, you’ll see a lot more tools with a lot more power than Visio for your process modelling and analysis. You’re not going to put these on everyone’s desktop, but they are needed for a few analysts who will be doing the in-depth process design.

BPM Momentum

I attended the The BPM Momentum: What’s Driving it? webinar today (not “what’s driving IT” as the host ebizQ erroneously labelled it, which has a much different meaning), featuring Jim Sinur of Gartner. Definitely worth catching the replay for Mr. Sinur’s comments on success factors for BPM projects and for his view of the market convergence.

He included Gartner’s Application Integration Hype cycle chart, showing how BPM technologies fit: apparently, BPM itself is sliding into the Trough of Disillusionment, whereas BPM Suites are still climbing towards the Peak of Inflated Expectations. (The hype cycle terminology always reminds me of the morality fable Pilgrim’s Progress with its Slough of Despond, but I digress.) He only put a 10% probability on the catastrophic scenario, which makes me feel a whole lot better.

He also had some good numbers on customers and their BPM projects:

  • 85% of BPM customers are now going after their human-facing processes (presumably, the automated system-to-system ones are already in place).
  • BPM projects are yielding an average IRR of 20% (although Gartner uses a more conservative figure of 15%), but larger projects can produce returns of well over 100%.
  • “Soft” benefits such as competitive advantage and higher customer satisfaction are major contributors to a project’s success.
  • Business and IT are becoming more aligned on BPM projects.

He also commented on the convergence that is happening in the marketplace, something that I’ve been seeing for some time as well: 130 BPM vendors all attempting to jostle their way into what I call the “BPM suite spot”:

This convergence is just a continuation of the evolution of BPM that I discussed in an earlier post, but it’s going to get a lot more painful for some of the players as they get eaten by the competition or body-checked off the playing field.

BIJ online edition

Business Integration Journal (formerly EAI Journal) now makes their magazine available via free email subscription, for those of us who are not in the U.S. and therefore not eligible for a free paper subscription. A lot of the content is “advertorial” written by vendors, but there are a few gems in there, such as this month’s article on process-centric business intelligence by Keith Gile at Forrester Research, wherein he tackles the problem of out-of-context BI data by looking at ways for BI platforms to associate data with processes in order to deliver decision-making capability to the operational level.

Given BIJ’s policy of not publishing PDF copies of the current edition’s articles on their website until the next month’s edition is available, this e-subscription is the only way to get the content in electronic format at the time of publication, and I actually prefer an electronic copy of these “read and toss” magazines anyway. I think that I was sent an invitation for the subscription, but have no idea why; poke around on their site and you’ll probably find something. They also have issues back to January 2000 online, some of which are really a blast from the past.

My only complaint is that the e-subscription issue is hosted on Olive Software’s “ActiveMagazine”, which is really not a nice way to read online. It also doesn’t produce very readable copies if I print to PDF, so if I want to save a copy of an article or send it to a client, I have to either put up with the poor quality or wait until next month for it to come available on the BIJ website.

Putting the “business” back in BPM

Yesterday’s article on Coors in Intelligent Enterprise piqued my interest by combining beer and BPM, although I confess that I am highly unlikely to drink an American beer regardless of how efficiently it is delivered.

What I found particularly interesting is the description of how they first approached their BPM efforts, starting in 2000. They have a Director of Business Process Management, who by their own description was “spearheading an IT-led supply chain improvement project, but the team wasn’t collaborating with business users”. Did someone make a mistake about this guy’s title by using the word “business” in it, when he was actually an IT person working on an IT project with little or no business interaction? At the same time, they hired a business architect to do process modelling, but with no coordination with the related IT project.

The story has a happy ending: boy meets girl and they share business process models to great success. However, this same story is playing out in organizations everywhere, and many are far from a happy ending. Due to the inclusion of all manner of application integration and middleware products under the global BPM naming umbrella, many “BPM” projects start as IT-only EAI, with little or no communication with the business side of the organization, and allow IT to seize control of all subsequent BPM projects. BPM products are selected based on IT’s criteria, then “business process management” projects are built purely by IT, with sufficient arrogance to believe that they understand enough about the business that they don’t need interaction with the business units.

These organizations inevitably end up wondering why the success rate of their BPM projects is so low. It’s simple: they need to put the “business” back in BPM.