Posted by: Adam Deane | 19/01/2012

BPM Audit

BPM AuditWe had an audit a couple of weeks ago. The scariest kind of audit.
I’m not speaking about a finance audit or a government audit.
Oh no… much worse than that…

One of my colleagues brought in his daughter to the office as part of the “What does dad do” school project.

You know the feeling you get when your whole career is scrutinized and turned upside down by a thirteen year old?

Think about a whole TV crew coming in to film you. Worse.
… “so basically you sit and drink coffee all day”…. well…. basically…. yes

Now we work in software. Glamorise it as much as you want. We sit around clicking at keyboards and drinking coffee.

I remember when I was a kid and went to my Dad’s workplace.
I was taken around the chocolate factory for a tour. Lucky me. That day a tonne chocolate cube arrived and I was “allowed” to break a chunk of chocolate off.
That memory of me walking around a factory with a great chunk of chocolate in my hand has stuck with me since.

How do you explain BPM? I still found it quite a challenge.
After years in the BPM industry I still find it hard to explain what is it that I do.
I’m not talking about defining BPM. A thirteen year old doesn’t understand high level blabbering like holistic, assets, agile or efficiency. And unlike grown-ups they aren’t afraid to tell you that it sounds like hogwash,

So how do you explain BPM to a thirteen year old?


  1. BPM is how we map your daily chores in an optimal manner for you to get them accomplished. When you hit a roadblock, we look at the map to find a way of navigating around the problem. If we can’t go around, we discuss a better way of accomplishing the said task.

    • I am sure you must be joking … No one in his right miind organizes his day with flowcharts. Max

  2. This reminds me of a question I once got on an interview: how do you explain prime numbers to a 5 year old?
    While I do have a 4 year old so I had an answer for that one, for a teenager and BPM I would try something like this:

    You’re 20 minutes early for the movies at the multiplex at the mall. In the car on the way there you discuss with your friends how you’re going to attack the mall to make sure you hit all the stores in those 20 minutes. You get to the mall and you attack! During the promos before the movie starts you discuss the deals you got and how you could be doing better next time – hit more stores, get better deals. The following week, same situation comes up. Because you already know where you went wrong last week you now try the new plan. And so on and so on. Within 3 months you should be able to get the best deals from the most amount of stores but this time with only 10 minutes to spare.

    What teens will do is that they’ll turn this into a competition and stop sharing best practices. This is not something that we want BPM practitioners to get to, even though gamification of BPM will play a role in the future in getting more and more people engaged in process improvement.

    • I don’t know of a single teen would do this with flowcharts … can you please look at the people around you and watch what they really do?

      Plus, I think that if kids turn shopping into a competition it is time to teach them sensible lessons about life …

      Regards, Max

  3. good and very interesting one!!

  4. Maybe as simple as ‘I help people get better at getting their work done’…..

    Sadly most likely their interest may not be extend to a longer explaination than that. Unless you can make it relate to them.

  5. May be relate it to how McDonalds is able to make those burgers so fast at the same time keeping the same taste.

    • Amrit, this is a great explanation. It also explains why they are SO AWFUL! Thanks, Max

  6. Whenever anyone asks me what I do I say “I look at the way companies do things then I help them do things better”. As simple as that.

  7. Hi Adam, this is really interesting. Also the answers.

    If I need to explain process management to young or people who do not understand business concepts, I would use the idea of a cooking recipe, similar to Amrit, BPM is a cookbook that describes how to achieve certain things in business. But I would explain that while you are describing the outcome – the food, the skill and determination of the person doing it is more important than the recipe. Experience in the end is everything, otherwise all you get is McDonalds. For multiple people working together a restaurant is also a good example. The only thing you should do with BPM is a large scale definition and then rely on the skill of the performer.

    But yes, in the end we are all just sitting around and looking at monitors and drinking coffee. In the large sense it is really not important.

    Regards, Max

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