Redefining BPM? Who wants that?
Various posts by David Moser, Keith Swenson and Jim Sinur have covered the subject of redefining the meaning of BPM or Business Process Management. For consultants BPM already means a management concept and not a product or market. I usually refer to the product market fragment as BPMS to avoid confusion, but I won’t even bother with that here.
I have mentioned in a previous post that Gartner Group is expanding BPM’s meaning by predicting a trend towards more dynamic and social interaction for processes. My position? WHY BOTHER? Or better, why would someone else bother? Like with the global warming or climate change panic we need to ask in whose interest it is. Why does someone see the need to first define BPM as a market fragment and then redefine it now? It is not happening by chance. Market fragments (meaning they are not natural segments but artificially set) are created by analysts who observe the market and not by the buyers or by the vendors. Once a fragment has been defined, it becomes a bandwagon that all sorts of pundits jump onto, to get as much as a free ride as possible. Hmm, it is not as free as it seems … reminds me of Faust and a deal with the devil.
TLA (Three Letter Acronym) market fragments create as much confusion as they claim to reduce. Well, a buyer can always pay the analysts to clarify what the acronyms mean for them. All the vendors (inluding us unfortunately) take part in the Pay-To-Play game of the analyst companies. If a product like the Papyrus Platform does not fit into a single market fragment – as we sit squarely across ECM, BPM, CRM, EAI – and a few more, it becomes very difficult to be covered. That is the reason that vendors shuffle their definitions continuously to fall into the fragments and try to shoot up into the ‘quadrants’ or ‘leaders’.
So clearly BPM analysts will not allow the Adaptive Case Management concept (as defined in ‘Mastering the Unpredictable’) wandering off on its own. They will expand the meaning of BPM and will at best create a new subsection in it. The vendors will jump onto the bandwagon and the whole entourage takes another trip around the bend. The ones that loose out in this are the buyers who are taken for an involutary ride as well! IBM has already taken its own step to fend off the small ACM crowd by ‘overloading’ (a C++ term for redefining a class definition) it to mean IBM’s Advanced Case Management, which is notably not a functionality but a ‘concept’. That means there is nothing to sell than lots of consulting services, so they are apparently thumbing their nose at us all.
Yup, we were noticed! THANK YOU!
Could we do with an independent definition of BPM? Sure. The Wikipedia definition of BPM is a very wide one, clearly trying to avoid conflict and to encompass everything that deals with defining or refining processes. I would not say it is wrong and neither can anyone else. On which authority? I like it more than the analysts definitions. I happen to believe that process flows are an illusion because nothing ever happens in exactly the same sequence with exactly the same intermediate states. So the general concept of a definite process flow is flawed when considered in the light of complex adaptive systems that the economy and its business entities are due to the individually acting agents. I have been fighting the idea of rigid BPM for as long as it was there. It is the ‘Pure-Play BPM’ products that should be dumped first …
Are other BPM vendors moving towards redefining what they do with BPM? Absolutely, at least in their marketing spiels. But ARIS, BPMN and all other flow-paradigmes are and will remain old-style orthodox BPM with some additional frills. So is there anything good about BPM as a concept? Yes, there is. It defines process owners and their goals and thus focuses on outcomes and not on structural organization. Is there a need to work according to flowcharts towards those goals? Absolutely not. Can technology empower the actors to be more efficient? Absolutely. Can technology provide up and down the line transparency to actually make BPM work? I would not know another way! Therefore a true proponent of BPM as a management concept should love a flowchart-less process management environment. For the first time he would be able to align a business to process goals without long, up-front analysis efforts. Ooops! That means that BPM consultants will sell a lot less services. I guess a simple flowchart-less way to do BPM will not be popular with them either.
So given all that, the Payprus Platform is now ECM, BPM, CRM, EAI and a few more TLAs. Is that really relevant? Absolutely not. But if you care, more on that subject on my Papyrus Architecture blog.