Posted by: Adam Deane | 25/10/2010

BPM: The art of haggling

BPM HagglingThe department manager asked that I meet the new project manager. “He is our newest recruit”, said the manager “I think he’s from Iran”
“Persia” said the new project manager with a smile. “Persia”

“Hi, I’m Adam”, I said and shook his hand.
He grabbed my hand with both of his, and shook it warmly.
“Omar Jobrani Hallili Amirpour” he replied. But everyone calls me “Omar”
“Nice to meet you”, I said, a bit bewildered.

“Have you been briefed on the project?” he asked
“Yes”, I said. “An approval process for the finance department. Nice and simple..”

How long? he asked.
How long what? I replied.
How long will it take you to complete it? he asked
“Oh, I’m not very good at assessing timeframes” I told him
“Take a guess” he said.
“Well.. a project like this usually takes around 3 months. As it’s their first implementation: installation, training, design, implementation… Yes, something like 3 months”

“A week”, he with a stern look.
“You’re joking” I replied in horror. “No way! Impossible!”
“Ok” he said “10 days”
I started to panic. “Absolutely not”, “never! I’m not even going to start a project that is doomed to fail” … and I started walking towards the door.

“Ok, Ok!” he cried and grabbed my arm. “You are a tough negotiator”
“Listen, because you are my friend, 2 weeks, last price, and I am cutting all my reserves here.”
I scratched my head. “Are we haggling?” I asked him.
“Negotiating” he replied. “Always negotiating” he said with a smile.

A certain quietness fell upon me. “So why am worried?” I said. “If we don’t deliver on time, it will be your head, not mine”
You could see him pondering over my last remark, he head tilted to the left, then right.
“Mmm”, he finally said, “Ok. 3 months it is”

“Sorry” I told him. “The best I can offer you is one month”.
We compromised on two.

Later, we sat down to have a coffee together. He told me about his latest project.
“We built the “Canterbury Way” bridge across the Thames river. It was the first time a construction company used BPM methodologies.”
“What has BPM to do with building bridges?” I asked, puzzled.

“It’s all about Process Efficiency” he said proudly.
“We had one team start building the bridge from one side of the river, and another team start building from the other side, and then meet in the middle”
I scratched my head.
“But aren’t there two bridges at Canterbury Way” I asked.
“Yes”, he said. “We missed”.


  1. Ha, very interesting – and a very familiar episode. I’m sure somewhere during the negotiation the PM also said
    “ok what if you had 2 additional resources, how about that? Or 4 offshore resources working during our nights, yes?”

  2. Nice post. But I really wonder, what does this has to do with an Iranian PM? It’s a PM-genetic thing if you asked me. 🙂 It’s something almost every PM, no matter what his nationality is, born with.. 🙂

    Disclaimer: I said “almost every PM”… 🙂 😉

    Very nice post, though.. 🙂

    • Hi Mohamed,

      Nothing anti-Iranian. I just adapted the material from the fantastic standup comedian “Omid Djalili” and added a bit of Australian “Darrell and Ossie Ostrich” magic. Glad you liked it.!


      • Hi Adam,

        Thanks for your reply.
        I was taking a look around on your site and found the BPM Vendors page and I noticed that IBM Process Server is not mentioned although you mentioned the newly owned IBM’s software; Lombardi.
        Any specific reason for that or is just slipped out of the list?


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