Selecting A Business Process Maturity Model

Several months ago, I participated in a research survey about business process maturity models, conducted by Amy Van Looy of Ghent University. It was pretty interesting, since I haven’t worked all that much with formal BPMM, and the incredible number of them available was astonishing. She sent me some additional information on her research and the models that were being considered, then yesterday, I received a link to an online tool that she and her colleagues have created for selecting a BPMM.

It takes about 25 minutes to go through the 14 questions, and will present you with a short list of business process maturity models (from the 60 included in their research out of an original field of 69) that might fit your organization. If you’re thinking about adopting a maturity model to help you gain better control over your business process improvement efforts, this is definitely worth a look (and it’s free).

Architecture & Process keynote: Bill Curtis

The second part of the morning keynote was by Bill Curtis, who was involved in developing CMM and CMMI, and now is working on the Business Process Maturity Model (BPMM). I’ve seen quite a bit about BPMM at OMG functions, but this is the first time that I’ve heard Curtis speak about it.

He started by talking about the process/function matrix, where functions focus on the performance of skills within an area of expertise, and processes focus on the flow and transformation of information or material. In other words, functions are the silos/departments in organizations (e.g., marketing, engineering, sales, admin, supply chain, finance, customer service), and processes are the flows that cut across them (e.g., concept to retire, campaign to order, order to cash, procure to pay, incident to close. Unfortunately, as we all know, the biggest problems occur with the white space in between the silos when the processes aren’t structured properly, and a small error at the beginning of the process causes increasingly large amounts of rework in other departments later in the process: items left off the bill of sale by sales created missing information in legal, incomplete specs in delivery, and incorrect invoices in finance. Typical for many industries is 30% rework — an alarming figure that would never be tolerated in manufacturing, for example, where rework is measured and visible.

Curtis’ point is that low maturity organizations have a staggering about of rework, causing incredibly inefficient processes, and they don’t even know about it because they’re not measuring it. As with many things, introspection breeds change. And just as Ted Lewis was talking about EA as not just being IT architecture, but a business-IT decision-making framework, Curtis talked about how the concepts of CMM in IT were expanded into BPMM, a measurement of both business and IT maturity relative to business processes.

In case you haven’t seen the BPMM, here’s the five levels:

  • Level 1 – Initial: inconsistent management (I would have called this Level 0 for consistency with CMM, but maybe that was considered too depressing for business organizations). Curtis called the haphazard measures at this level “the march of 1000 spreadsheets”, which is pretty accurate.
  • Level 2 – Managed: work unit management, achieved through repeatable practices. Measurements in place tend to be localized status and operational reports that indicate whether local work is on target or not, allowing them to start to manage their commitments and capacity.
  • Level 3 – Standardized: process management based on standardized practices. Transitioning from level 2 to 3 requires tailoring guidelines, allowing the creation of standard processes while still allowing for exceptions: this tends to strip a lot of the complexity out of the processes, and makes it worth considering automation (automation of level 2 just paves the cowpaths). Measurements are now focused on process measures, usually based on reacting to thresholds, which allows both more accurate processes and more accurate cost-time-quality measures for better business planning.
  • Level 4 – Predictable: capability management through statistically controlled practices. Statistical measurements throughout a process — true process analytics — are now used to predict the outcome: not only are the measurements more sophisticated, but the process is sufficiently repeatable (low variance) that accurate prediction is possible. If you’re using Six Sigma, this is where the full set of tools and techniques are used (although some will be used at levels 2 and 3). This allows predictive models to be used  both for predicting the results of work in progress, and for planning based on accurately estimated capabilities.
  • Level 5 – Innovative: innovation management through innovative practices. This is not just about innovation, but about the agility to implement that innovation. Measurements are used for what-if analysis to drive into proactive process experimentation and improvement.

The top two levels are really identical to innovative management practices, but the advantage of BPMM is that it provides a path to get from where we are now to these innovative practices. Curtis also sees this as a migration from a chaotic clash of cultures to a cohesive culture of innovation.

This was a fabulous, fast-paced presentation that left me with a much deeper understanding of — and appreciation for — BPMM. He had some great slides with this, which will apparently be available on the Transformation & Innovation website later this week.

Now the hard part starts: trying to pick between a number of interesting-sounding breakout sessions.

BPM Think Tank Day 2: John Alden

Replacing the scheduled Bill Curtis (who had to cancel due to a family emergency), Chief Process Officer at McAfee, John Alden of Capability Measurement (which he co-founded with Curtis) gave the second day keynote on the role of the Chief Process Officer in business process improvement.

Responsibilities of the CPO:

  • Champion enterprise process discipline: quantify the need, articulate the vision, and infiltrate the mindset. It’s important for the CPO to be an internal evangelist for process improvement. Low process maturity organizations are spending 30-40% of their total time doing rework due to errors earlier in the process. In mid-maturity organizations, processes are stabilized but not standardized. In mature organizations, processes are standardized to reduce variability.
  • Drive process measurement: quantify business cases, support local management needs first, and mature the measures with the process over time. Derive the measurements, or KPIs, from strategic goals. Measures in immature organizations are unreliable, inconsistent and inaccurate; in mid-level maturity organizations, they become more standardized; and in mature organizations, they become strategic.
  • Coordinate enterprise process integration: represent cross-functional interests, establish enterprise process capability, and coordinate enterprise improvement projects. This requires optimizing the workflow rather than the functional performance of any given group, that is, focussing on the end-to-end process rather than silos: moving from siloed improvements, to coordinating functions through cross-functional processes, to enterprise processes that draw on functions as roles. There needs to be some sort of enterprise infrastructure to support these efforts, possibly through a centre of excellence.
  • Develop local process improvement capabilities: build business unit BPI capability, support local BPI activities, and establish enterprise improvement assets.

Alden talked a bit about BPMM, and how it needs to start at the local level and have the right type of leadership from the local managers, and finished up with a brief look at the CPO function and the related process improvement structures that are in place at McAfee.

I would have love to hear Curtis talk about this himself, since I’m sure that he’d bring more passion and hands-on knowledge about his role at McAfee to it, but Alden is very knowledgeable in this area and was a reasonable substitute.

BPM Think Tank Day 1: Paul Harmon

Phil Gilbert kicked off morning with welcome and logistics before turning it over to Paul Harmon, who gave a keynote entitled “Does the OMG have any business getting involved in business process management?” I love a little controversy first thing in the morning.

He started out with a fairly standard view of the history of BPM and process improvement, from Rummler-Brache and TQM in the 80’s to BPR in the 90’s to BPM in the 00’s. He pointed out that BPM has become a somewhat meaningless term, since it means process improvement, the software used to automate processes, a management philosophy of organizing businesses around their processes (the most recent Gartner viewpoint) and a variety of other things.

He broke down BPM into enterprise level, process level and implementation level concerns (with a nice pyramid graphic), and gave some examples of each. For example, at the enterprise level, we have frameworks such as SCOR (for supply chain) and high-level organizational issues such as the Business Process Maturity Model (BPMM); Harmon questions whether OMG should be involved at this level since its primary focus is on technology standards. Process-level concerns are more about modelling, documenting and improving processes, and spreading that process culture throughout the organization. Implementation-level concerns includes the automation of processes, including execution and monitoring, plus the training required to support these new processes.

He made an interesting distinction between stable processes,which need to be efficient and productive, and dynamic processes, which need to be flexible. Processes that are newer or need to be changed frequently are in the dynamic range; in my opinion, these tend to be the processes that are competitive differentiators for an organization. IBM has recently thrown the concept of “value nets” into the mix as an alternative to value chains, but Harmon feels that both are valid concepts: possibly using value chains for stable processes, which might even be candidates for outsourcing, and value nets for more dynamic processes.

He also made a distinction between process improvement, process redesign and process reengineering, a division that I find a bit false since it’s more of a spectrum than he shows.

There was an interesting bit on model-driven architecture (MDA) and how it moves from platform-independent models (in BPMN) to platform-specific models (also in BPMN) to implementation (e.g., J2EE); for example, there may be parts of a process modelled at the platform-independent level that are never automated, hence aren’t directly mapped to the platform-specific level.

He put forward the idea that process is where business mangers and IT meet, and that different organizations may have the implementation level being driven by either the business side or the IT side, and that there’s often poor coordination at this level.

He then discussed BPMS and came up with yet another taxonomy: integration-centric, employee-centric, document-centric, decision-centric and monitoring-centric. Do we need another way to categorize BPMS? Are these divisions all that meaningful, since the vendors all keep jostling for space in the segment that they think that the analysts are presenting as most critical? More importantly, Harmon sees that also the BPM suites vendors (those that combined process execution/automation with modelling, BAM, rules and all the other shiny things) are leading the market now, the platform vendors (IBM, Microsoft, etc.) will grow to dominate the market in years to come. I’m not sure that I agree with that unless those platform vendors seriously improve their offerings, which are currently disjointed and much less functional than the BPM suites.

Harmon’s slides will be available under OMG-BPM on the BPTrends site. There’s definitely some good stuff in here, particularly in the standards and practices that fit into each level of the pyramid.

Good thing that I’m blogging offline in Windows Live Writer, since the T-mobile connectivity keeps dropping, and isn’t smart enough to keep a cookie to stay logged in, but requires a new login each time that its crappy service cuts out. Posting may come in chunks since it will likely require me to dash out to the lobby to get a decent signal.

TUCON: Simon Hayward

I’m in my first breakout session of the day, State of BPM – Trends and Drivers for Success: A Leading Analyst Perspective by Gartner, and although the schedule shifted slightly to accommodate overtime speakers in the breakout session, the speaker decided to just go ahead and start anyway so I have no idea who I’m listening to. He’s certainly familiar, I’m sure that I’ve seen him at a Gartner event before, but with the recent departure of Jim Sinur (and, I have heard, Michael Melenovsky), I’m not sure who’s pushing BPM at Gartner these days besides Janelle Hill, and this guy at the front of the room is definitely not her. If I can get some wifi in here, I’ll look up my coverage of the Gartner events and that will likely jog my memory. Oh, wait, I think it’s Simon Hayward, who I referred to previously as the Energizer Bunny of BPM for his high-energy flying tour of BPM at Gartner. Given that Hayward usually does high-profile keynotes, it’s interesting that he’s here doing one of five simultaneous breakout sessions — Gartner’s obviously a little thin on BPM resources these days.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen so many Gartner presentations now that this sort of state of the union address looks pretty rehashed to me. Gartner’s business process maturity model takes a starring role, as it has for the last several months; I first saw it in a webinar that I hosted with Appian and Jim Sinur last October, when it was still labelled “the road to BPM” instead of BPMM. He went on to talk about the value of BPM to enterprises, and moving from a functionally-driven to a process-driven organization, also seen in that October webinar and many other places.

His six critical success factors for a BPM project (or for that matter, any IT project):

  • Strategic alignment
  • Culture and leadership
  • People
  • Governance
  • Methods
  • Information Technology

In moving from implicit processes within applications to explicit processes in a cloud above the infrastructure, he sees three paths: BPM suites, process-aware middleware (he puts TIBCO in this category), and process orchestration in composite applications.

Then, the now-ubiquitous gear diagram of BPMS, with the process orchestration engine and business services repository in the middle, surrounded by the 10 necessary features and functions required to play in this market. He moved quickly through a number of other subjects, such as how BPM and SOA are orthogonal dimensions when implementing processes (nice characterization), and the complementary relationship between BPM, BI and BAM. He finished up with a slide that I’ve seen many times about assigning responsibilities between IT and business, still valid although I think that some of the responsibilities are shifting more than is indicated here.

I realize that Gartner is a draw at a conference like this, but I’m hoping to see a little more innovative material out of them soon.

BPMM tutorial

I’m in the online OMG tutorial on the Business Process Maturity Model (BPMM), which is a bit awkward because they’ve gone the really cheap route and done this with a conference call line with poor controls (everyone is in talk mode by default when they dial in, and a lot of people don’t realize that it’s good conference call etiquette to find the mute button on their phone so we heard a lot of background noise, beeps, coughing, breathing, etc.), and everyone needs to download the slides and follow along on their own. C’mon guys, GoToWebinar is pretty cheap, you could have sprung for that. 🙂

The BPMM acronym is problematic right from the beginning (aside from my gaffe last week when announcing the tutorial), when someone chimes in and says “but BPMN is in many shipping products now…”

Bill Curtis started with a history of maturity models; he and his partner have had a consulting practice around CMMI for a number of years, and obviously have a great deal of knowledge about maturity models in general. Apparently, one of their banking customers that had huge success with CMMI asked them for a business process maturity model a few years back, and so began BPMM.

Like CMMI, BPMM has five maturity models: initial, managed, standardized, predictable and optimizing (since the slides are marked as copyright of Capability Measurement, the consulting company that the two presenters run, I won’t reproduce the graphics here but you can download the full presentation here). At the initial level of process maturity, organizations tend to be undisciplined, individualistic and inconsistent, which makes them inefficient and stagnant. Funny, this put me in mind of Jon Pyke’s article yesterday where he spoke about how workflow systems “suck” because they don’t allow people to do their own thing in order to get things done; Pyke seems to be dissing workflow systems because they enforce repeatable processes.

Levels 2 and 3 of BPMM show the benefits of putting some business process maturity in place: managed, repeatable processes, integrated across the organization and adaptable to different circumstances. Roughly speaking, Level 2 involves putting some process automation and management in place for localized process improvement, and Level 3 involves organizational-level process improvement and reengineering by standardizing processes across the organization. My feeling, and that of the speakers, is that most organizations are at Level 1 in their process maturity, with some approaching Level 2 where organizations have implemented some process improvement initiatives, particularly those including a BPMS implementation.

Level 4 is taking a more statistical look at processes, reminiscent of Six Sigma: making processes less variable and more predictable, and gets into more performance management. BPMM is a roadmap, whereas Six Sigma is a set of tools that can be applied — probably starting around Level 3 or 4 — therefore can work together.

Level 5 is taking it to a proactive level, where an organization can recognize the difference between where they are and where they should be, and quickly take steps to achieve that. This is the level of continuous process improvement, where change management becomes just another standardized business process, focused on defect reduction and prevention.

There was a slide at the end about cultural transformation that I particularly liked: moving between Levels 1, 2 and 3 is about discipline, while moving to Levels 4 and 5 is about trust.

Although I can’t find the BPMM documents on the OMG site (which has the annoying habit of restricting access to standards in development), there is a BPMM information day in Washington DC next week where you can get more information.

On a related note, yesterday I attended the inaugural meeting of the Toronto BPMG chapter (more on that later), where Jim Baird talked about BPMG’s business process maturity model. Although I’m not familiar with it, I have to wonder if there’s room in the market for two business process maturity models.

OMG online tutorial on BPMM

Major correction: this tutorial is on BPMM (business process maturity model), not BPMN. Thanks to Phil Gilbert for emailing me a prompt correction.

If you’re interested in learning more about the business process maturity model (BPMM), tune in to a tutorial that OMG is running on November 30th at noon Eastern time. From their description:

Today, management has no standards-based framework by which to assess the maturity of business processes. As a result, managers have no method to assess the risk that immature processes pose to enterprise IT projects, or to identify the causes of weaknesses in their process workflows that, if addressed, could reduce cost and increase operating efficiency. The Business Process Maturity Model (BPMM) is a proposed standard for evaluating the capability and maturity of business processes. The intent of this model, if adopted by the OMG, would be to provide an open, standard roadmap for assessing process maturity and guiding business process improvement.

Presented by Bill Curtis and John Alden, this tutorial will introduce the concept of a Maturity Model and provide insight into its origin, market requirements and benefits. The tutorial will discuss why projects fail, leading to billions of dollars in reworking costs. Case studies, examples and a detailed overview of the structure of BPMM will also be covered. We invite all OMG members to listen in.

It’s not an online webinar, but more of a conference call with backup material: you download the slides in PowerPoint or PDF formation from their site, then dial in to listen to the live audio.

Now unrelated to this tutorial: If you want more in-depth information on BPMN (business process modeling notation), you can see the full version 1.0 specification on the OMG site, and check out some of the BPMN-related material on the Tyner Blain blog, which I’ve linked to in the past. I can’t find the BPMN 2.0 spec on the OMG site, although I thought that it was in public release by now.