Posted by: Adam Deane | 20/09/2010

BPM: a simple workflow

BPM and the Barber“Good day to you sir” said the barber as he led the customer to the chair.
“What kind of haircut would you like today?”

“I’d like a simple workflow” replied the customer.
You mean a “business process” said the barber. We call them “business processes” nowadays.
“Yes, please” said the customer. “A simple business process”.

“Absolutely, What kind of business process would you like?” inquired the barber.
Would you like a three phased BPM platform or maybe a complete change management programme.
No, no. Just a simple workflow. Just keep it neat and tidy around the ears.
All the rest I’ll leave up to you to decide.

Astonished, the barber tried to reason with the customer. “A simple workflow??” “but what about simulation, optimisation, collaboration and modelling”. “Surely you understand the need for all these”
“No, I’m happy with a simple workflow” replied the customer. “I’d just like to formalise the existing process, have a bit more structure and visibility in my business”

“You know”, said the barber slyly, “the ladies like a man with a proper BPM fringe”
“Well… in that case bring it on” smiled the customer,
“Oh, Wait.. I won’t need to invest in maintaining it, will I?, it will run by itself…”
Aghast, the barber replied: “A proper BPM process will always need optimising again and again to ensure best performance. It’s a must!”
“Ah..sorry, couldn’t be bothered” replied the customer. “I need something simple. Something that works. And something that’s not expensive.”

“Inconceivable!” muttered the barber to himself. Never in my life have I heard of such a thing.
“If it’s a matter of budget, a BPM package is the same cost as a simple workflow”, tried the barber to reason with the customer. “It’s the same license fee”
“If it’s the same price, then, sure, throw it in” said the customer. “But please, let’s start. I need to get to the supermarket before it closes.”

“But I cannot start now” said the barber. “BPM projects need proper training, discovery sessions, process design, creating building blocks..” “I’ll need to discuss it with your EAs and BAs, and another session with the IT group”
“What!” jumped the customer. “I need to allocate people to this project? I’m looking to cut jobs, not create additional ones…”
“Please. Just a simple workflow. I remember you used to do them before workflow changed into BPM” begged the customer…

“Ok, ok”, replied the barber sadly.. “The customer is always right…”

Later, the barber’s wife entered. “Who was that man that just left the shop” she asked.
Oh, him… he is a CIO… ghastly people…. no sense of fashion or style….
“Always looking for the quick and cheap. I did not go to BPM hairdressers college to do simple workflows. How dare he ask for a simple workflow when I offer the whole BPM package. It’s customers like him that give BPM a bad name…”
“Huh!” puffed the barber and started cleaning the floor.

“I can understand your frustration” said the wife, “But why did he leave here bald…”


  1. Adam,
    as the senior representative of BURB (Barbers United Responding to Business) I must protest against the use of the word ‘bald’.
    Please ensure that in future you talk about ‘hairinessly challenged with a clear perspective on future improvement leading to a clear committment towards our customers’.

    • Ah, it was just a matter of time until the Barber’s Union would catch me and shave my words 😉

  2. Hi Adam,

    Thanks for the thoroughly enjoyable post! There is a lot of chatter on this subject at the moment.

    This is my favorite ‘simple workflow’ solution… to save you revisiting that pushy old barber!

    Does this pass the test?

  3. great post! thanks 🙂

  4. Adam, love it, very funny,oh the days when it was just workflow

  5. Adam, Good one. Very pragmatic post, which outlines the current situation.

    Prasanna CS

  6. An absolutely sensible and comical narration Adam – I too manage a BPM practice, ooops the ‘workflow related jobs department’.


  7. I guess I’m misssing something. words are fine but where are the workflow diagrams to all your rants…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: