What’s the connection between a menu at a restaurant and Business Process Management or BPM? Simply stated, the answer is “None”.
But, there is a definite connection between a menu and BPMx and by now, you know what BPMx is if you are a subscriber to my blog, so we don’t have go over this all over again.
I am an active participant in debates that go on and on about BPM implementations being “difficult” or that they “fail”.
If you have read some of my posts, you will find that I really don’t believe BPM exists, barring exceptions. Consultants and clients both tell me they are doing BPM but when I investigate there is little evidence to support this.
I have no problem at all with BPA and BPI as management practices; it’s just that these are pre-requisites to a downstream and very key phase that is all about managing processes following analysis and improvement.
The argument against compiling process maps and having difficulties using these to ‘guide’ processing of instances because process maps are “not flexible” has no basis in BPMx.
You can have processes maps with 500 steps, where steps have complex connections, where, in some cases, ½ of the steps are steps that require human action and where the other ½ are steps can be handled by robots. Or, you can have 500 process maps each consisting of one and only one step.
In either case, the processing is the same. A user walks up to a terminal and sees his/her caseload for the day (fixed time tasks on the right in a calendar, floating time tasks in a listbox on the left). If you don’t like what you see (you want to skip a task, add a task, change the order of tasks along a multi-task workflow) all that is required is to call the menu of services that lists all possible ‘interventions’ and pick from the menu one task, or multiple tasks, or stream your case onto any of the listed workflows.
Notice in the above we are not taking anything away from knowledge workers – they generally don’t need software systems telling them how to do their work. BPMx is all about continuity of work/handoffs not performance of individual steps.
This replicates nicely what happens at a restaurant. Do you want the ‘menu du jour’ or will that be ‘a la carte’? Why not one item from the standard menu plus an ‘a la carte’ selection as well?
The analogy does not end here – picking, an ‘a la carte’ item in BPMx generally costs more, same as at a restaurant, because you are deviating from a ‘best practice’.
“It’s your money”, you say, so in a way, you are right so long as you as you remember that there is nothing better than a best practice, most of the time, and this is why organizations like to ‘encourage’ the use of best practices, but not ‘enforce’ them.
The flexibility in BPMx software suites eliminates the complaint that process maps are not useful for managing processes.
BPMx puts back the ‘M’ in BPM.