Seeing the World from a Process Point of View

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Author(s)

Editor & Founder, DBizInstitute.org, BPMInstitute.org & BAInstitute.org
With over 25 years experience building and creating professional communities, Gregg Rock is recognized as an industry leader in professional training and education vital to helping enterprise organizations support their transformation initiatives. His work has been recognized in the Wall Street Journal, Fortune Magazine, Financial Times, CIO Magazine, and New York Times. Throughout his career Gregg has developed communities, hosted executive networking forums and the formation of advisory boards on topics ranging from IT security and outsourcing to multimedia and Y2K, but is most widely associated with his accomplishments in the areas of Business Process Management (BPM), Digital Business (DBiz), Business Architecture (BA), and Cloud Computing. BPM in particular is a widely accepted approach for designing enterprise organizational and information systems. This focus on process-related skills is creating demand for BPM content, collaboration, and training resources by corporations—a niche Gregg has spent years to fill. In 1997, Gregg founded BrainStorm Group and the network of BrainStorm Communities, consisting of discipline-specific web portals for BPM, BA, and SOA practitioners to network and receive education, professional training online and through live in-person events. This has enabled over 100,000 practitioners from over 125 countries to collaborate and share best practices, online and face-to-face. BrainStorm Communities feature a comprehensive suite of member services including newsletters, discussion groups, blogs, virtual and live events, live and online training, certificate programs, and professional certification. During his tenure, Gregg has produced more than 100 industry events in North America, South America, EMEA, and Australia attended by over 300,000 professionals. He led the development of the Certified Business Process Management Professional program. Harnessing the collective intelligence of leading BPM subject matter experts, this certification establishes an objective evaluation of a BPM professional’s knowledge, skill, and ability. He recently led the launch of BrainStorm's newest Community, focused on Digital Business and Transformation - DBizInstitute.org. Gregg also earned his private pilot license in 1991 and remains an active member of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). When not flying, he’s active in his community and enjoys coaching little league, soccer, and lacrosse for his children.

Simon Hayward is chief of research for software and a Gartner fellow emeritus. With an interest in the relationship of business processes, software applications and software infrastructure, he oversees research in the software sector and develops integrative activities between research areas. He will deliver the featured analyst keynote address at the Business Process Management Conference in June in San Francisco. BPM Institute editor Gregg V. Rock talked with him to get his views on the move towards an increasingly process-centric world.

ROCK:

One of your premises is that matching processes, applications and software architecture is getting to be a more complex activity. Why?

HAYWARD:

In the earlier generations of IT, we were only able to focus on the simpler problems.  Having dealt with a lot of those issues, we have to move on to dealing with the harder questions.

ROCK:

Why are they harder?

HAYWARD:

There are so many connections and inter-relationships between the pieces and the parts and the people as individuals and the business as a whole and the technology. We used to be able to take a divide and conquer approach at both the technical level and the business level. But those options are not open to us any longer. We are faced with the hard process in facingthe inter-connectedness.

ROCK:

How do you approach that problem?

HAYWARD:

There are two ways and they are not mutually exclusive. There is the top-down business-driven approach, which gets back to asking what are the fundamental business objectives that we want to achieve at whatever level. Then you can get through asking what are the processes that support those objectives? How do we define those processes in a more rigorous way than we have in the past? Frankly, in a lot of cases the processes are the way theyare because of historical accident and evolution. It is not so often that people have designed processes. There is a big opportunity to do that starting from the business side.

ROCK:

And the other approach?

HAYWARD:

That is coming from the opposite direction, which is looking at your infrastructure and saying what kind of opportunities do we have because the infrastructure will follow data silos that have grown up over the years. There may be obvious opportunities to link things together and reduce redundancies. In terms of where the technology is going, we have been through one generation of this under the heading of application integration, which said that we have these separate systems and we have to find a way to channel data between them. That was a useful thing to do. But we have to move on to the next rung of the ladder.

ROCK:

Which is?

HAYWARD:

We have to think about the system’s interaction in the context of the process.

ROCK:

What do you mean?

HAYWARD:

As it used to be, application integration could concern itself with things like data flows and messaging. The process was sitting in the background. It was not a major feature of how we thought about doing application integration. Now you have to start by thinking about the processes that these systems are supporting and how does the interaction between the systems and the people play into the process. From whatever direction you come at this, you wind up rapidly saying that we have to understand the processes explicitly. We have to get into things like process modeling and formal process definitions, more so than perhaps was the case in the past.

ROCK:

How do you get people to put explicit process management in the foreground?

HAYWARD:

They recognize that the types of challenges that they are facing can only be addressed by thinking about process. If you look at more complex supply chain management or the relationships that develop in outsourcing, or even the internal service provisioning from the IT organization to the rest of the business, people are finding they have to look more consciously at the process because it defines the nature of those relationships. There is a natural gravitation to thinking about processes when you think of these types of relationships and the business challenges that go with them.

ROCK:

So what are you going to say in San Francisco this June [2006]?

HAYWARD:

I want people to look at the world in a new way – with a process view. The processes aren’t new, they have always been there. But the world looks very differently when you look at it with a process-centric perspective.

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