Posted by: Adam Deane | 19/07/2010

BPM in Portugal

BPM in PortugalI was asked to do a technical session with new partners in Portugal.

Sunny weather, good food, friendly people – no brainer. I jumped at the offer.

The flight from London to Lisbon takes 2½ hours.
In the taxi from the airport I asked the driver, a young Chinese guy, how do you say “Thank You” in Portuguese.
“Obligado” was his reply.
“Obligado” I repeated. Yes, that’s an easy word to remember “Obligado”…

For the next couple of days I said “Obligado” quite a lot.
Everyone smiled back at me. Girls giggled…
Friendly bunch these Portuguese I said to myself.
That was before I learnt that the chinese can’t pronounce the letter “R” and use the letter “L” instead…
I’m such a chump….

Taxi rides in Lisbon are a great experience.
They say here that the shortest distance between A and B is a line. The longest distance is a taxi.
After 10 minutes ride I asked the driver if we are nearly there. “Yes, Yes” he replied.
5 minutes later he rolled down the window and asked someone for the way. “We are on the right road” he told me.
10 minutes later he stopped at the local police station to ask for directions…
Not that I was worried. It gave me a chance to see a bit of Lisbon.
I’m such a chump….

For some strange reason Portugal is currently experiencing a boom in BPM implementations.
I hear that Microsoft Portugal are pushing it hard into the public sector.
The Portuguese have a good work ethic and work till the late hours of the evening.
The technical teams I met were very skilled, professional and motivated. A nice bunch of people to work with.

The food in Portugal is fantastic. I won’t go on about it because you will hate me.
On the way back to the airport I decided to stop for a coffee.
The Portuguese take their coffee ever so seriously.
“Could I have a coffee please” I asked the shopkeeper. “But a real Portuguese coffee please, not the Starbucks stuff that I’m used to”.
He smiled and returned with the smallest cup I’ve ever seen, and even then the cup had only a mouthful of coffee in it.
Should of asked for a bigger cup I said to myself. The shopkeeper seemed amused.
“Could I have another one?” I asked.
“Are you sure?” he said with a big grin.
This was now a matter of national pride…
After three Portuguese coffees I took a taxi back to the airport.

The coffees kicked in after an hour. I managed to fall asleep at 5am the next day.
Yes, I know… I’m such a chump…


  1. Hi Adam,

    I follow your marvelous (with a great touch of humor) insights in BPM related topics.

    Glad to have you around in Portugal! I’m sorry you have not posted it before or I would have the pleasure to invite you to come and see us at OutSystems and present you our platform and the all the BPM aspects of it. I was deeply involved in the design of the “engine” of it and I’m pretty sure you would find some of the problems we’ve been able to solve quite interesting. If you have the time check it out at focusing on the fact that we see it as part of the whole development lifecycle (for which the platform is targeted)

    Just let us (readers) know if you happen to come by again. I’ll be more than welcome to offer you a great portuguese meal, with a good coffee afterwards 😉

    Gonçalo Borrêga
    Delivery Manager @ OutSystems

  2. Thanks Goncalo for the kind word. I look forward to visiting Portugal again and will be more than happy to meet you then. Cheers, Adam

  3. Did you come to find what can justify that trend? I have the same impression and Portugal is one of the succesful markets for us. It will be a challenging goal to keep pace in 2011.

    My experience with portugues people has show me they are people of scarce but heavily loaded sentences; I like that.
    In Spain, we have a saying: “A buen entendedor, pocas palabras bastan” ( aprox. ‘smart guys needs few words’). I’m sure n Portugal exists the equivalent. You have not been the only one finding it by experience.


    • Hi Juan,

      Thanks for your comments. I pop over to Portugal and Spain from time to time, and always enjoy working with the guys there.

      I think the “boom” in BPM implementations there comes from the need to cut costs and budgets (especially in the public sector)

      The BPM implementations, the reasons, the methodologies and the work ethic are just the same as I see in other countries… just the coffee is better…


  4. Hi Juan,

    Indeed we do have that saying… And using that to explain the trend a bit:
    It is no longer acceptable for someone to tell their boss they don’t know how to outperform. When a manager can’t do it, the manager’s manager can’t do it either. So, the saying goes like this: either you improve or you’ll be fired. Without knowing where to resort to, the IT teams pop-in and provide the business with these kind of tools.
    So… as I see it, the amount of pressure that comes from the top is essential. The requirement to reduce costs (Portugal is going through a bad moment just like Greece) opens up a whole new set of opportunities, and explains quite well your trend. If you want to succeed in Portugal these days aim your message to “increased productivity”…

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