The basic BPM solutions create the processes and rules for managing the business processes being driven by strategic requirements but have little integration to business solutions other than email and task managers. I’ve seen numerous situations where all of the processes are mapped, documented and then put in very nice binders that collect dust on shelves until the auditors are scheduled to show up.
The next level of BPM solution primarily comes from the old workflow solution providers. There is some integration to ERP functions but no loop back to the impact on the business drivers at the strategic level. The new BPM is going to be the one that creates the tidal wave that changes how business does business. Before I explain this, let me note some technology developments and announcements that I think are going to facilitate the integration of BPM to other technologies.
First, there is the stabilization of IDE mentioned earlier. Bill Gates announced several years ago that Microsoft is going to Model Driven Architecture (MDA). As we all know, where Bill goes server technology (for the most part) will also go. The non-technical explanation of MDA is that it is based on a group of technical standards that facilitate the seamless interoperability of groups of applications, databases and tools. Intranet, and Internet, technology and standards (HTML, XML, etc.) are also utilized for the visualization of the information required to support business processes.
IBPM – Integrated BPM
Earlier, I said that BPM was like workflow on steroids or 3D ERP. Where organizations and solution providers take the current BPM concepts and completely enable the Supply Chain through the available technologies, you may also start to think of rapid Six Sigma methodology deployment and ISO/QS standards embedded in the day-to-day, moment-to-moment activities of every employee in the organization and link in the Supply Chain. Also, management can begin to think of rapid-response methodologies being developed to variant trends in KPIs or CIMs.
A product that I first reviewed in 2003 showed the promise of fulfilling the vision of IBPM. The fundamental difference that this solution provides is the ability to have the user follow the process but also open applications in multiple enterprise solutions as well as use the abilities of MS-Office (Word, Excel) and MS-Outlook (Calendars, Task Lists, email) and, where necessary, create and integrate its own database into the process solution as necessary. Additionally, this solution utilizes the Internet and Intranet technologies to link the processes to other Supply Chain partners. This would allow a person working for Company A to begin a transaction that creates a task for a person in Company B to complete.
What has frustrated organizations attempts to implement Lean, Six Sigma and ISO standards is the need to be able to control and measure business processes effectively. Moreover, the time required to actually implement changes to the process has been too long. With IBPM that timeline will be shortened to hours, if not minutes. The new solutions are going to have execution capabilities that will allow the organization to implement the changes with the push of an icon. Effectively, the change is executed in IBPM and the next person to execute the process is now working in a new way. If the user needs work instructions for the new way, that’s also available at the push of a button (or viewing in HTML format on the Intranet).
Management is fully in control of all critical business processes in the organization and informed electronically in a very timely manner if a process is lagging behind schedule.
Can it fail?
Of course! Think of all the reasons that ERP implementations fail. Same reasons can apply here and there is one additional failure point as well. The organization must pick and accept business driven methodologies as the standards by which they will run their business. If all you do is to embed your current methods into rules, the gains will not be realized.
However, what I have recently seen is (in my opinion) the next great competitive weapon for businesses of all types.
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