Posted by: Adam Deane | 05/10/2011

BPM and Strategy

BPM and StrategyThere was an article I read about using apologies as a customer relations strategy.
“Apologizing is the most healing, restorative gesture human beings can make to each other”

The example they gave was Toro, the lawn mower company, that reduced the average cost of settling a claim from $115,000 in 1991 to $35,000 in 2008 … and the company hasn’t been to trial since!

Now if I’m called in to build a claims process for a customer, I’ll try to think about ways to make a business process more efficient, cut process time, provide more visibility, provide more control, enhance customer satisfaction by ensuring the process works in the best way I know how.

But… I’ll never advise a customer on changing the way they do business. It just wouldn’t be appropriate.
A BPM vendor has the mandate to implement business processes, but never will have the mandate to strategize business process. That is the mandate of consultancy companies.
Unfortunately, there is a very small number of consultancy companies that know about BPM. And even within our industry, we have only a handful of BPM consultancy companies, and dozens of BPM vendors

Once upon a time the emphasis was on business process analysis and strategy.
BPA was the leading acronym. Analysts led the way. Consultants consultanted. Vendors just implemented the workflow.
The balance of power has shifted in the last few years.
BPM vendors have been bought by bigger vendors which means less competition and more marketing power.
Business Process processionals focus more on process implementation than on process design.
BPA? Has anyone hear about BPA in the last couple of years? Nope. I thought not.

In the new XFactor type fashion organisations are looking for a quick fix – execute now, plan afterwards.
The focus is on the process implementation, not design and analysis.

My daily bread and butter comes from overseeing process implementation. I’m not going to call for this to be reduced.
But I know that some of the best ROI that organisations get from a BPM project, is at the design and analysis stage, way before we implement the software solution. Some of the best value comes from the customer just spending time to rethink their process, replan their business procedure.

Organisations, nowadays, want to see something visual, something tangible, software, reports, results, now – “Show me the money”
But where is the strategy, where is the BPA?


  1. Adam, I would also not tell an executive how to run their business. I just tell them that rigid process flowcharts cause a lack of responsiveness to customer needs and that will kill them. There are enough examples of that. This problem can’t however be solved in the process analysis phase. And a long process implementation phase is going to make all this even more outdated.

    The software strategy is to provide the business with the ability to define cuatomer outcomes, objectives, targets, process goals and make them transparent to the business. There is no need to do processes per se, they will happen anyway and the process owner can make sure that the goals are met by adapting the processes over time to produce the best mix of outcome (perceived value versus service) and profit (effort versus cost).

    Peter Drucker said: ‘One of biggest wastes of management effort and money is to try and control the intangible (like perceived value)!’

  2. I agree with you Adam. I have observed than close to 100% of the business projects run to paralysis from excess of analysis. Besides, there is an archaic notion about what is BPM solution building.

    Also, there are tons of very nice process maps, value maps, idef models, ISO models,… on the shelves of business who has never faced the real test; being in production, interact with real day to day operations.

    The general opinion is that developing an appplication or building a solution is a long, very long effort. And, this is the biggest mistake since it creates in itself the problem. I encourage our customers to start-off with a reasonable completeness and have it evolving from real life/market interaction: that’s a business process.

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