Life beyond Business Process Modeling

BPM means different things to different people – a    small subset of terms includes Business Process  Analysis, Business Process Development, Business Process Modeling, Business Process Improvement, Business Process Mapping, Business Process Monitoring, Business Process Governance (BPA, BPD, BPM, BPM, BPI, BPM, BPG).

Many consultants will tell you that “BPM” is the overarching term that includes all of these plus ones I may not have mentioned.

As you can see no one seems to have taken advantage of the fact that there are 26 letters in the alphabet because we have four identical acronyms for quite different areas of focus in the partial list that I have provided above.

The problem does not end here – for certain classes of processes (no agreement here either on which specific processes), my contention has been that no ‘business process management’ takes place at all.

As a manufacturer of BPM software, we had great difficulty over time differentiating our software suite from the competition because most of what we looked at seemed to have a circular focus on process mapping, process modeling and process improvement (BPM, BPM, BPI).

Our focus all along has been on giving customers facilities for building process maps and compiling these to yield templates that are capable of guiding day-to-day operations.

Clearly, a process map with steps ‘start’, ‘build’, ‘ship’ is not going to be of much help ‘guiding’ day-to-day operations. On the other hand, a process that has many steps, with complex connections between the steps, where different steps must be performed by staff with specific skills, where time is of the essence, and where documentation standards exist is an ideal candidate for computer-based Business Process Management.

You can read in another blog post how Civerex tried to differentiate itself by re-branding its BPM software to BPMx. That was quickly abandoned on discovery of Keith Swenson’s book called “Mastering the Unpredictable” where we learned that we had been doing Adaptive Case Management (ACM) for years along with BPM. And that is the history behind our current ACM/BPM software suite.

Whilst vendors continue to duke it out in parking lots, management consultants seem to be coming to realize that ‘there is life beyond modeling’ (when was the last time you went on a trip in a model airplane?) by taking advantage of our “0/2” (buy nothing/double your revenue) deal where they are able to certify themselves on our software suite in 10-20 hours and get a free copy of a $4,995 software suite that may allow them to double their consulting revenue.

You can read about 0/2 at


Management consultant and process control engineer (MSc EE) with a focus on bridging the gap between operations and strategy in the areas of critical infrastructure protection, major crimes case management, healthcare services delivery, and b2b/b2c/b2d transactions. (C) 2010-2020 Karl Walter Keirstead, P. Eng. All rights reserved. The opinions expressed here are those of the author, and are not connected with Jay-Kell Technologies Inc, Civerex Systems Inc. (Canada), Civerex Systems Inc. (USA), CvX Productions, Global Initiatives LLC or HNCT LLC Number of accessing countries 2010-2020/2/15 : 154
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3 Responses to Life beyond Business Process Modeling

  1. Pingback: BPM Quotes of the week « Adam Deane

  2. kswenson says:

    Karl Walter,

    How interesting, 9 years later, I am promoting a series of blog posts also talking about Going Beyond the Process Model.

    Adaptive Case Management has taken hold and offered by just about every BPM vendor. What is the next frontier? Processes that model themselves. Emergent Synthetic Processes. Presented:

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My view re the next frontier is indeed “processes that model themselves” .

    A small leap in that direction would seem to be to having software that provides advice and assistance along a process template at branching decision boxes by overlaying past experiences (i.e. they went that way 60% of the time; they went this way 40% of the time).

    This will bring with it some self-fulfillment (either a bad thing or a good thing). e.g. if the numbers trend from 60/40 to 80/20, the process designers or a smart BPMs might see fit to eliminate the branching step and have users simply follow the 80% sub-path, with the users inserting an ad hoc intervention for the times they feel some other action is needed.

    Next, we can start with no process and let software build a process map by simply observing the timing of a set of ad hoc steps.

    How different is that, actually, from a facilitator hosting a live process mapping session at a GoToMeeting where the facilitator does little more than ask “…and then what do you do ?”

    I can see how thrashing could result of trying to move too quickly – “system” eliminates a branching decision box and then later adds it back again. We see this type of behavior with common home heating thermostats.


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