Posted by: Adam Deane | 04/06/2010

BI and BPM

My standard response to gripes about customers is:

“If they were an efficient organisation – they wouldn’t need BPM”

Now I know the statement is a bit patronizing, and even a bit misleading (as there are efficient organisations out there that use BPM), but in essence BPM shows the biggest ROI when implemented in inefficient running organisations.

This week my posts were related to BPM reporting, monitoring and analysis:
(The BPM Bottleneck, BPM Reporting, The Five Ps)

They all come under the big umbrella called BI.
Now I know that BI professionals will be up in arms at this point yelling “Hey! Dashboards are not BI!”, and they’re right. Proper BI needs to be done by proper BI tools with proper skills. BPM is still missing proper BI.

Forrester’s Boris Evelson wrote yesterday about successful BI strategy planning:

First defining what BI is and what it is not. Is it just reporting, analytics and dashboards? Or does it involve ETL, DW, portal, MDM, etc as well?

I’m the kind of guy that likes to do things properly. So you can understand that I’d love to build a BI platform at the customer. But I can’t and I shouldn’t.
Let me explain why.

Most of my projects are at organisations that are new to BPM.
We take an organisation that has broken business processes and redesign them, automate, enforce company policies, put in escalations, audit trails, alerts, implement a cutting edge software system, paperless, electronic forms, web-based, implement dashboards, gauges jumping up and down, fireworks, choir, halleluiah….

Customers like to say that we are bringing them into the 21st century.

If BPM is the 21st century – BI is the 22nd century.
Cubes, online analytical processing, analytics, data mining, benchmarking and predictive analytics – It’s just too much for the first BPM implementation. Data overload. No… worse, culture shock.

Even when I’m implementing dashboards and reporting I’m aware of data overload. “Keep it simple” I say to myself. “Focus on the business pains”. “No clutter”.
BPM clutter
As Ashish Bhagwat quite rightly told me this week regarding KPIs:

Dimensions based KPI system clutters the minds, diverts attention and one starts falling in the trap to look for “comprehensiveness as against business criticality” while designing the measurements.

I’d love to implement proper BI. Unfortunately I have to hold back.
So I put in place all the ingredients for future BI, ensure that the database is structured in a way that will enable BI tools to connect and mine information easily, ensure that all the data is accessible and ready for the day the organisation is mature enough to go to the next level.

It might sound as if I’m saying that BPM and BI should be seperate entities. The opposite. I believe that BPM suites should, and will, start integrating BI tools and techniques into their tools. It’s the future of BPM.
Some of the BI functionality will be exposed to BPM beginners, some not.

BI adds one of the most important values to business : Visibility.
Process design – Tick
Process execution – Tick
Dashboards and gauges – Tick

Now lets start doing BI.


  1. Isn’t the idea that “If they were an efficient organisation – they wouldn’t need BPM” sort of like saying that if a person was in shape, they wouldn’t need to exercise and watch their diet? Maybe that’s how they got to be that way in the first place…

    I agree that the all-singing, all-dancing BI is too much for organizations that are just getting their processes in order; maybe the starter dashboard should just be one big control that is either red or green, depending on the health of the processes. 🙂

    • Yes, a bit pretentious of me, but I like to say it anyway 😉
      I’m sure the efficient organisations know that to stay efficient you need to go to the “gym”, but I’m usually given the tougher jobs, like first BPM implementation organisations.

      I’d love to implement in an organisation with existing BPM. Less hassle. Less politics. Bliss…

      By the way, my topic for next week is BPM & ECM. Any suggestions on angles to tackle the subject?


  2. As for BPM and ECM, a big issue is separability: should they be in the same system, or different? Are the advantages of tight integration outweighed by the typically crappy document lifecycle workflow capabilities in ECM systems?

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