Who Supports BPM in Your Organization?

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It has been almost three years now since BPM was first conceived as a breakthrough technology and transforming strategy so why is it that many organizations have still not fully implemented BPM technology let alone developed an enterprise BPM strategy? One key factor is the lack of focused IT support. Who supports BPM in your organization? Most organizations will answer – “Well, there really are multiple people…” and those are the ones who don’t just give you a blank stare. Every organization has a specific IT group to support mainframe applications, web-based applications, integration services, security, networks, and even imaging and content management, but few have any focus on BPM as a unique set of technologies.

The lack of an effective organization within enterprise IT departments dedicated to supporting BPM technology undermines the ability of BPM to become visible within the organization or even to be formulated as a specific strategy. Typically, the larger IT departments will have different groups supporting each of the multiple technologies that comprise BPM such as integration services, process reengineering, modeling, workflow, portals, and security. Each technology will have an individual or its own portfolio group and will all be pulled together as part of a development and implementation team for a process automation application project. But their cooperation and interaction will be driven by a specific application/project need and not used to develop an overall strategy or even to develop joint expertise in a technology like BPM. Of course, once the project is over, the group dissolves until the next project that might require them to be assembled once again. This approach undermines the ability of IT to see BPM as a distinct set of technologies that requires a unified and collaborative approach by these disparate technology groups. It also frustrates any attempt to develop a specific BPM reference architecture for the organization that can be used to consistently implement process automation applications effectively, leveraging IT’s experience with the technologies that comprise BPM. An organization will never develop an enterprise strategy for BPM if it allows its experience with the technology to dissipate after each project.

So what can be done? The most advanced organizations are those that are implementing a BPM Center of Excellence – typically a matrix organization of representatives from the multiple technology areas making up BPM that meet regularly, develop a reference architecture for BPM that can serve as a roadmap for developing BPM applications, research new approaches and solutions in the BPM market, share project experience and have a identified goal of developing BPM expertise within the organization to drive a specific strategy for BPM. Process automation applications driven by business need don’t just end up assembling an ad-hoc project team of IT staff, but draw on the experience of a full team of BPM experts who have background in all of the BPM technologies appropriate for the application and have already developed a BPM enterprise reference architecture and a BPM deployment strategy that can be intelligent applied to this new project.

Bill Chambers is a principal analyst at Doculabs, Inc. a consulting firm that helps organizations develop technology strategies for document and content applications & processes. You can contact him at info@doculabs.com or www.doculabs.com


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