BPM Series: BPM In Action – BPM & Enteprise 2.0 – The irrational exuberance of BPM World

I am just back from a panel discussion at BPM In Action – a virual conference organized by ebizQ. At the outset, I must congratulate ebizQ for organizing this event. This virtual conference is indeed a real example of exploiting the power of the web. I and many others like me could participate in the event from almost anywhere and everywhere in the world with minimum cost.

Now about the topic of panel discussion. I cannot help but borrow the famous phrase once used by Allan Greenspan, ex-chairman of Federal Reserve to describe the euphoria in the US stock markets. Indeed there is “irrational exuberance” about BPM 2.0. Can a business process be designed and deployed in collaboration with user community at large without coding intervention and with the ability to modify the process on-the-fly? Is BPM enablement of a business process as simple as a sales manager subscribing to salesforce.com using her credit card to achieve sales force collaboration amongst her team members?

We recently deployed BPM system (along with a Content Management and Imaging Systems) to automate our new business process. The implementation involved 10 user groups, 3 office locations, and integration of process with 3 back-office systems. And guess what, it took us more than 6 months to design and deploy this process in our BPM environment in production.

While evaluating BPM 2.0, we need to really ask the following questions:
– Can a mission critical process be deployed through loose collaboration amongst business users? Business processes, as I understand can be strategic and bring about competitive advantage.
– Can a mission critical process be deployed without coding intervention such as integration developments, Form / UI customization?
– Can a mission critical process be allowed to be modified by users on-the-fly?

If BPM 2.0 is not meant for mission critical processes, then BPM enablement of which business processes are we really talking about – conference room booking process or leave approval processes. BPM enablement of such “admin” and “low value add” processes using BPM 2.0 may makes sense for organizations,as they do not want to invest huge time, money and human resources to automate such processes.

The takeaway for me is very clear. BPM 2.0 in its current “avtaar” is certainly not meant for your mission critical processes. The arguments in favour of BPM 2.0 are based on extreme optimism about the new technology rather than the reality and are made by optimists who are operating at 10,000 feet above the ground realities of the user world.

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