Welcome to a podcast discussion on the importance of business process management (BPM), especially for use across a variety of existing systems, in complex IT landscapes, and for building flexible business processes in dynamic environments.
The current economic climate
has certainly highlighted how drastically businesses need to quickly
adapt. Many organizations have had to adjust internally to new
requirements and new budgets. They have also watched as their markets
and supplier networks have shifted and become harder to predict.
To better understand how business processes can be developed and managed nimbly to help deal with such change, I recently moderated a panel of users, BPM providers, and analysts. Please join me in welcoming David A. Kelly, senior analyst at Upside Research; Joby O'Brien, vice president of development at BP Logix, and Jason Woodruff, project manager at TLT-Babcock.
Here are some excerpts:
What's important is to be able to drive efficiency throughout an
organization, and across all these business processes. With the
economic challenges that organizations are facing, they've had to
juggle suppliers, products, customers, ways to market, and ways to sell.
they're doing that, they're looking at their existing business
processes, trying to increase efficiencies, and they are trying to
really make things more streamlined. ... Some organizations are even
getting into cloud solutions and outside services that they need to
integrate into their business processes. We've seen a real change in
terms of how organizations are looking to manage these types of
processes across applications, across data sources, across user
... BPM solutions have been around for quite
some time now, and a lot of organizations have really put them to good
use. But, over the past three or four years, we've seen this
progression of organizations that are using BPM from a task-oriented
solution to one that they have migrated into this infrastructure
solution. ... [But] now with the changes and pressures that
organizations are facing in the economy and their business cycles, we
see organizations look for much more direct, shorter-term payback and
ways to optimize business processes.
difficult for an organization, especially right now, to look at
something on a one-, two-, or three-year plan. A lot of the BPM
infrastructure products and a lot of the larger, more traditional ways
that BPM vendors approach this reflect that type of plan. What we're
seeing is that companies are looking for a quicker way to see a return
on their BPM investment. What that means really is getting an
implementation done and into production faster.
When there are
particular business needs that are critical to an organization or
business, those are the ones they tend try to address first. They are
looking for ways to provide a solution that can be deployed rapidly.
... They take the processes that are most critical, and that are being
driven by the business users and their needs, and address those with a
one-at-a-time approach as they go through the organization.
very different than a more traditional approach, where you put all of
the different requirements out there and spend six months going through
discovery, design, and the different approaches. So, it's very
different, but provides a rapid deployment of highly customized
TLT-Babcock is a supplier of air handling and material handling
equipment, primarily in the utility and industrial markets. So, we have
our hands in a lot of markets and lot of places.
As a project
manager, ... I realized a need for streamlining our process. Right now,
we don't want to ride the wave, but we want to drive
the wave. We want to be proactive and we want to be the best out there.
In order to do that, we need to improve our processes and continuously
monitor and change them as needed.
After quite a bit of
investigation and looking at different products, we developed and used
a matrix that, first and foremost, looked at functionality. We need to
do what we need to do. That requires flexibility and ultimately
usability, not only from the implementation stage, but the end user
stage, and to do so in the most cost-effective manner. That's where we are today.
looked at why document control was an issue and what we could do to
improve it. Then, we started looking at our processes and internal
functions and realized that we needed a way to not just streamline
them. One, we needed a way to define them better. Two, we needed to
make sure that they are consistent and repetitive, which is basically
O'Brien: There's one thing that Jason said that we think is particularly important. He used one phrase that's key to Nimble BPM.
He used the term "monitor and change," and that is really critical.
That means that I have deployed and am moving forward, but have the
ability, with BP Logix Workflow Director,
to monitor how things are going—and then the ability to make changes
based on the business requirements. This is really key to a Nimble BPM
The approach of trying to get everybody to have a
consensus, a six-month discovery, to go through all the different
modeling, to put it down in stone, and then implement it works well in
a lot of cases. But organizations that are trying to adapt very quickly
and move into a more automated phase for the business processes need
the ability to start quickly.
... The idea or the approach with
the Nimble BPM is to allow folks like Jason—and those within IT—to be able to start quickly. They can put one together based on what
the business users are indicating they need. They can then give them
the tools and the ability to monitor things and make those changes, as
they learn more.
In that approach, you can significantly
compress that initial discovery phase. In a lot of the cases, you can
actually turn that discovery phase into an automation phase, where, as
part of that, you're going through the monitoring and the change, but
you have already started at that point.
We saw this as an opportunity not just to implement a new product like
Workflow Director, but to really reevaluate our processes and, in many
cases, redefine them, sometimes gradually, other times quite
Our project cycle, from when we get an order to
when our equipment is up and operating, can be two, three, sometimes
four years. During that time there are many different processes from
many different departments happening in parallel and serially as well.
You name it -- it's all over the place. So, we started with that
six-month discovery process, where we are trying to really get our
hands around what do we do, why do we do it that way and what we should
As a result, we've defined some pretty complex
business models and have begun developing. It’s been interesting that
during that development of these longer-term, far-reaching
implementations, the sort of spur-of-the-moment things have come up,
been addressed, and been released, almost without realizing it.
user will come and say they have a problem with this particular
process. We can help. We'll sit down, find out what they need, create a
form, model the workflow, and, within a couple of days, they're off and
running. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
Read a full transcript of the discussion. The full podcast is also available on iTunes.
We automatically stop accepting comments 180 days after a post is published. If you would like to know more about this subject, please contact us and we'll try to help.