Posted by: Adam Deane | 06/10/2010

The BPM Sweetspot

Winnie-the-pooh“There are some people who begin the Zoo at the beginning, called WAYIN, and walk as quickly as they can past every cage until they get to the one called WAYOUT, but the nicest people go straight to the animal they love the most, and stay there.” (Winnie-the-Pooh)

What is BPM’s sweet spot?

To be honest, it’s not hard to find. All you need to do is watch people’s reactions in a BPM presentation.
Process design – boring…
Process simulation – yawn…
Process optimisation – falling asleep…
Process execution – WOW!!!!! Look at the dashboards, look at the informative emails, look at the fancy webforms, WOOOOW!!

Ok. maybe I’m overdramatizing a bit, but you must admit that process execution, the runtime part of the BPM lifecycle, the actual end result for the end-user – is sexiest part in any presentation.

Even BPA vendors usually show the execution runtime, and then show how it was created “behind the scenes” in their BPA product.
Discussions on the web on BPMS are around new features, new interfaces, new trends… Saas, open source, mobile, micro-blogging, social bpm, adaptive bpm…
The discussions on BPA are around notation bickering…

So, what’s my point?

The problem is, that to enable an industry to grow, you need to invest in the bricks and mortar, not the sugar coating.
BPM, nowadays, doesn’t mean process design and analysis. It doesn’t even mean methodologies or best practices. It means BPM execution software.
BPMS has stolen the thunder from BPA.
Look at any BPM article published lately, any blog, any tweet.. it’s all about BPMS.

Ok, so process design is not sexy, nor innovative, but it’s our core foundation. It’s the building blocks. Good design leads to good implementation.

Bottom Line:
Understandably, BPMS vendors will continue to promote BPMS (including myself).
BPM analysts and consultants, in my opinion, should be promoting BPA, the modelling side of BPM (not just the notation)

It doesn’t take much to get much to get the BPA vendors moving again. All you need is to create a little buzz around them…

If there’s a buzzing-noise, somebody’s making a buzzing-noise, and the only reason for making a buzzing-noise that I know of is because you’re a bee.
Then he thought another long time, and said: “And the only reason for being a bee that I know of is making honey.”
And then he got up, and said: “And the only reason for making honey is so as I can eat it.” So he began to climb the tree. (Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne)


  1. Adam,
    I fully share your view on this.
    I would also add another reaction by customers when they finally see the running process execution:

    – WOW! look at that. Nice form, nice dashboard!
    Hey, wait a minute! Why do you have an input field for time with “:” instead of “.” as a separator?
    Mmm, and why this form is missing all the 27 fields we actually need for our credit card request management?

    My point is: yes, execution is more intriguing, but it also leads to identifying process issues and problems. Most of them are absolutely useless (especially when you are doing a demo!).

    But when you come to build real apps, you can also get feedback like:

    – Look, you missed an activity (or a dependency) here. And these two should be switched.
    – Well, this is interesting (would say the BP analyst). But wait, why you didn’t point it out when we discussed the models?
    – Welllll, basically I didn’t notice.

    My bottom line: execution is not just the sexiest thing, sometimes is also the most useful for interacting with the customer (even if you are an analyst).

    • Loved your response. Witty and sharp.
      “execution is not just the sexiest thing, sometimes is also the most useful for interacting with the customer ” – I totally agree.

      The point I was making is that the BPA side of BPM is being neglected (because it’s not as sexy as BPMS)

      BPMS being useful – I agree.
      It’s all about balance. We need BPA pushed as well.


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