For almost three decades now, business process management has been seen as a tool to achieve business excellence. Business organisations have implemented methodologies, standards & tools such as TQM, ISO 9000, Six Sigma, Business Process Re-engineering, Activity Based Management with various objectives such as enhancing customer satisfaction, reducing cost, increasing market share, improving productivity, etc. However, if you are one of those who believe that your organisation has missed the “business process” bus, then as per The state of BPM – 2008 report by Business Process Trends, you are not in minority.
The report is based on an on-line survey questionnaire responded to by members of Business Process Trends (BPTrends.com). A quick analysis of the profile of respondents reveals that the highest percentage (20%) of the respondents represented Financial Services / Insurance industry. As per the authors, the reason for this could be: “The fact that Financial companies used significantly more BPMS than other industries reflects the industry’s well-known role as the leading consumer of the new computer/software technology that provides a competitive edge. (In other surveys we have asked BPMS vendors what types of companies they are targeting or selling their products to, and Finance invariably heads the list.)”. The explanation cannot be completely agreed with, especially if the aim of the survey is to gauge adoption of Business Process Management (BPM) and not Business Process Management systems (BPMS) amongst business organisations.
Following are some of the key statistics published in the report:
– 52% of the respondents believed that their organisations very occasionally or never use standard or similar processes across units that perform similar tasks.
– 66% of the respondents stated that their organisations have occasionally or never defined performance measures for evaluating the success of all major processes and sub-processes.
– 60% of the respondents stated that their organisation occasionally or never defined & documented the skills required to perform the task as part of the major processes.
– 70% of the respondents stated that their organisations occasionally or never trained managers to analyse, design and manage processes.
– 64% of the respondents felt that managers in their organisation occasionally or never used performance data to manage their processes.
– 57% of the respondents worked for organisations which have occasionally or never implemented process improvement programs.
When asked about the most important software tool for BPM initiative in their organisation, following responses were provided by respondents:
– 31%: Graphics tools such as Visio / Powerpoint
– 24%: Process modeling tool
– 13%: BPMS or execution environment
– 3%: Simulation
– 1%: Business Activity Monitoring
“The state of the BPM” report makes interesting reading because it goes beyond Business Process Management Systems (BPMS) and surveys more than 270 Business and IT professionals for the state of BPM in their respective organisations. The survey also makes an attempt to map organisations on the CMMI process maturity model.
While we know that there have been large number of organisations, which have achieved performance excellence through business process management initiative, larger number could be untouched by the wave and benefits of BPM, because Business Process Management revolution is time consuming and slow. Organisations require continuous & organisation wide efforts as well as top management support to define processes & performance measures and then implement systems to gather performance data accurately and regularly.
Lack of standardisation is not necessarily always bad. For example, New Business process followed at operational units of Insurance companies in growing economies such as India and China may be completely different from their operations in matured markets such as US or USA. In my opinion, what is more critical for organisations is to measure, review and minimise the gap between the documented and the actual process.
There is a lot of excitement in the BPMS space for last 2-3 years, and survey results indicate that this excitement amongst BPMS vendors is not misplaced. The penetration for BPMS is still fairly low and hence BPMS market space can continue to expect robust growth in next 3-5 years.
Adoption of and expectations from simulation and BAM tools is still very low. Partly, the reason for this could be that organisations are still at low level of process maturity. Organisations are still experiencing challenges in defining, maintaining & publishing process documentation. There is indeed scope for BPMS players to enrich their modelers to capture not only process maps but a lot of other key process information such performance measures, task descriptions, skills required, etc. These tools should also allow functionalities such as process documentation versioning, documentation maintenance & updation, documentation publishing and role based documentation access features.
Note: The complete “The state of BPM – 2008” report can be downloaded from BPTrends website.