Software // Information Management
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4/26/2004
01:50 PM
Ted Kemp
Ted Kemp
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Acronyms Run Amok

BPM vendors -- both kinds -- spend little time pointing out that, yes, there's another kind of "BPM" out there too. The result, especially for IT managers making their first foray into one BPM practice or the other, is serious confusion.

The use of abbreviations to shorten complex technology concepts is a practice that serves IT well. It's a fine system, until we take two distinct but closely related ideas and refer to them by the same acronym. Thus the situation with "BPM".

The "two BPMs" are business process management and business performance management. BPM vendors -- both kinds -- do a good job of highlighting the strengths of their own tools, but none seem to take the time to point out that, yes, there's another kind of "BPM" out there too. The result, especially for IT pros making their first foray into one BPM practice or the other, is serious confusion.

That confusion is made more acute by the close relationship between the two ideas. Process management involves the design and management of distinct workflows; performance management, on the other hand, is the use of planning and analysis to develop strategic goals and measure how well the business is meeting them.

Both BPMs are a kind of BI, a way of gathering and analyzing data to gain hard insights into business. And both process management and performance management present their own challenges. Process management, for example, requires IT and business thinkers to discern how tasks are managed in their organizations before they can be modeled. Performance management, perhaps even more dauntingly, forces companies to discover the metrics by which they'll measure success. For more on the differences between the two BPMs, see Kevin Ferguson's story on the issue here in Business Intelligence Pipeline.

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