Q&A: Advice for BPM Neophytes - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Government // Enterprise Architecture
News
10/26/2005
05:14 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Q&A: Advice for BPM Neophytes

Tips on where to start on BPM from analyst Connie Moore.

In a recent Intelligent Enterprise poll on business process management (BPM), 36% of 1,700 respondents said they were actively considering the technology while 24% were already piloting, rolling out, in production or upgrading. BPM analyst Connie Moore of Forrester Research details who's adopting and adds her advice on where to begin.

Do you think BPM is well understood?

There's a lot of confusion about the term. When we do surveys about BPM and we define it as software that supports cross-functional processes that involve people and systems, the top buyers are oil and gas, utility, chemical, retail and consumer packaged goods companies. Yet when I look at the base of clients placing inquiries about BPM, it's from government, banks, insurance and financial services. The latter have been doing process automation since the early '90s and still use the term "workflow." The former are newer to the concept, but both groups are talking about the same thing.

What do people expect from BPM?

It helps clarify things to think about the various individuals BPM affects. Users see it as something that's managing their work. Managers see it as a way to monitor their service-level agreements and commitments and manage their workforces. Developers see BPM as a way to reduce development time. Process owners see it as a way to commit to Six Sigma or other improvement initiatives. BPM touches many parts of the organization, and that's why it's described in many different ways.

What's driving adoption?

BPM is about efficiency and productivity, streamlining processes, reducing cycle time, getting work done faster, getting work done with fewer resources and freeing up people to do value-added work as opposed to mundane work. Compliance is another driver.

As the U.S. economy started moving out of recession last year, there was a marked shift in priorities toward growth initiatives; we started seeing CEOs and CIOs focusing on getting products to market faster and turning new ideas into products and services more quickly. That's a new priority driving BPM adoption.

Where should firms begin these projects?

Start with a process that's causing a lot of pain. Management and user "pushback" diminishes because everyone realizes that something has to change. You'll get more support, more resources and more corporate commitment, and you can use your first success to sell the next project.

Customer-facing processes often cause pain because they typically have multiple steps and hand-offs; it can be very hard to track what's going on. Processes that go beyond functional departments can also be good candidates for initial projects because there's often fuzziness about who owns the process as it cuts across departments.

To begin, look for projects that affect the company's revenue, are high cost or are associated with customer satisfaction. Processes that transcend company boundaries, involve extensive integration or constantly change involve much higher risk. Start with the highest-reward, lowest-risk process and then expand as you move up the learning curve.

What are the biggest stumbling blocks once the process mapping begins?

A lot of people get stuck on modeling and don't move on. The best practice is incremental improvement, so shoot for three-month phases; take your process, improve it, deploy it, use it, make changes to improve it and then deploy it again. By the time companies have gone through this iterative improvement process three or four times, their process is optimized. By the time they're gone through it six or seven times, it will be truly streamlined and efficient.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Slideshows
IT Careers: Top 10 US Cities for Tech Jobs
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  1/14/2020
Commentary
Predictions for Cloud Computing in 2020
James Kobielus, Research Director, Futurum,  1/9/2020
News
What's Next: AI and Data Trends for 2020 and Beyond
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  12/30/2019
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
The Cloud Gets Ready for the 20's
This IT Trend Report explores how cloud computing is being shaped for the next phase in its maturation. It will help enterprise IT decision makers and business leaders understand some of the key trends reflected emerging cloud concepts and technologies, and in enterprise cloud usage patterns. Get it today!
Slideshows
Flash Poll