Back To The Future - Lessons Learned From Past Futures

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Leading companies are integrating and optimizing end-to-end business processes and crossing traditional IT system boundaries within organizations. In addition to requiring a good integration strategy, this trend forces companies to adopt process orientation and explore BPM as a technology to orchestrate, optimize and increase flexibility.

Brett Champlin is an internal Process Consultant who leads business and IT process redesign projects. He led the development of an enterprise process model repository and the selection of the enterprise process modeling, analysis and design tools. Champlin has over 20 years of experience working in Information Systems and Management.

Champlin mentioned many past predictions, which did not turn out to be true. For example, the paperless office was first predicted in 1975 but the invention of the laser printer turned us into printer junkies, and we use more paper than ever before. When people have access to more information, they tend to use more paper.

Business process management and process automation aren't new, but there is new emphasis on processes because there have been significant successes in making processes more efficient. Linear processes are easy to reengineer, according to Champlin, while knowledge-based processes are harder. Champlin emphasized:

  • Automation tends to treat people like machines
  • Work is done by people and people matter
  • Socialization, collaboration and knowledge transfer often get lost during automation
  • Management has to focus the effort in order to counter these trends

Champlin sited ten important things for BPM

  1. Buying BPMS technology, creating a BPM strategy, developing a Process Management Organization, are just the ante into the BPM game.
  2. BPMS isn't going to replace existing technologies. It will add one more technology to the inventory
  3. BPM/S isn't going to cause a massive loss of jobs by replacing people with technology; it will shift responsibilities and create more knowledge workers
  4. Implementing BPM and BPMS isn't easy and it is even harder to do well. There just aren't enough people who know how to do it.
  5. BPM/S won't replace the way we manage work today. It will add a new dimension to IT and require new skills and processes to implement and maintain.
  6. Using BPM/S only to automate the processes performed today will yield only short-term benefits and actually inhibit your ability to gain the full advantage of the technology's capabilities.
  7. Process visibility enables process management and that involves providing information in new ways to support new roles.
  8. Enterprise-wide, or project by project? There is no one-size-fits all answer to this question.
  9. Effective process design includes how people learn, collaborate and actually get work done. This is harder to design simple input-process-output systems.
  10. Continual, practice-driven change is core to successful BPM.

Champlin emphasized that with BPM and BPMS, people, processes, information and technology are all part of the solution. Delivering a true solution that works for the business means that IT will have to align and coordinate these elements to be successful. BPM and BPMS should not be thought of as a solution for a change project, but rather as a design for continuous change throughout the enterprise. The key to successful BPMS is not to fix this or that existing process, but to build new processes that are inherently changeable and can be changed by the owners for any conceivable parameter. This means more direct control and fewer "projects" that are designed to fix problems. Problems are minimized from the beginning through processes that can change to meet the needs of the enterprise.

Brett Champlin recently spoke on this topic at BrainStorm’s Business Process Management Conference in Chicago. For more information on this conference, visit www.BPMConference.com

To hear the archived audio file of this presentation, visit:

http://www.bpminstitute.org/presentations/chicago-2005.html

Jon Huntress

Special Events Correspondent

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