In the early part of next quarter, I am entering a research phase on a topic I have alluded to many times: techniques for Process Architecture.
One of the key problems that BPM initiatives suffer from is that, even with all the attention, we end up with processes that still have significant issues — they are too inflexible and difficult to change. They become just another version of concrete poured in and around how people work — focusing on control rather than enabling and empowering.
A phrase that I picked up (from a business architect) put it fairly succinctly:
“People tend to work hard to improve what they have, rather than what they need.”
This was then further reinforced by a process architect in government sector on an email:
“The wall I keep hitting is how to think about breaking processes into bite-size chunks that can be automated.”
The problem is that we don’t have good techniques to design (derive) the right operational process architecture from the desired business vision (business capability). Of course, there is an assumption here that there is an effective business vision, but that’s a subject for another line of research.
I am talking about the operational chunks — the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle required to deliver a given outcome. Not how the puzzle pieces are modeled (BPMN, EPC, IDEF, or any other modeling technique), but how to chop up the scope of a business capability to end up with the right operational parts.
As 2010 winds down, many business process professionals are finalizing plans to take their BPM initiatives to the next level in 2011. With so many different BPM trends and predictions floating around out there, I’m sure you’re scratching your head wondering which trends to adopt in 2011 and which trends to push off for another year.
My colleague Gene Leganza recently published an excellent report titled "The Top 15 Technology Trends EAs Should Watch". I was pleased to see several BPM-specific trends show up in the report’s “Top 15” list. For the second year in a row, the report highlighted social BPM as one of the top trends to watch. In addition, process data management — the combination of MDM and BPM — was highlighted as another top BPM-related trend.
I recommend reading the entire report, since Gene does an excellent job slicing the survey data to show how we selected and ranked the top 15 trends.
So, as you're finalizing your 2011 BPM plans, here are the hottest trends and capabilities I recommend adding to your road map:
He highlights text analytics technology in the report because understanding unstructured data plays a critical part in daily operations. Enterprises have too much content to review and annotate manually. Text analytics products from vendors like Temis and SAS mine, interpret, and add structure to information to reveal hidden patterns and relationships. In my 2009 overview of text analytics, I cite the primary use cases for these tools: voice of the customer, competitive intelligence, operations improvements, and compliance and law enforcement.
But there are a few other sweet spots for text analytics tools in the enterprise:
Analytics and search: Analytics tools surface and visualize patterns; search tools return discrete results to match an expressed need. But these disciplines are blending. People want to drill in to high-level analysis to find the specific thing customers buzz about. And many searchers don’t know how to articulate their need as a query and are looking for the big picture on a topic or trend. Forrester expects these solutions to come together, as search tools mainstream semantic features like entity extraction out of the box, and analytics vendors introduce new ways to investigate relationships and data output.
Having just finished the dynamic case management Forrester Wave™ — it will probably appear in mid-January — I was struck by the variation in the approaches between the vendors; especially how they represent the organization, and the variety of wrinkles associated with work assignment. This was not so much related to an individual case management vendor, but it became apparent when you looked across the products. And that got me thinking and discussing with colleagues, customers, and vendors around the challenges of realistically supporting the organization as it looks toward BPM generally. Of course, there are many different issues, but the one I want to focus on here is around organizational structures, roles, skills, and responsibilities.
The central issue I want to highlight is one that many folks just do not see coming in their BPMS and dynamic case management implementations. Very often, there is only a loose concept of “role” within an organization. When the word “role” is used, it is usually equated to an existing job title (part of the organization structure), rather than responsibility (at least initially). It is further complicated by the fact that within a given job title, there are usually wide variations in the skills and expertise levels of those who work in that area. And while this is not a problem where people manually coordinate their work, when it comes to automating work routing (to the most appropriate person to deal with a given work item or case), there are often major complications.
What will business and technology be like in 2020 – and what’s IT’s place in this new world? This is the subject of a teleconference that James Staten and I held for our clients yesterday and also the subject of an upcoming Forrester report.
In this teleconference, we painted a picture of the impact of business-ready, self-service technology, a tech-savvy and self-sufficient workforce, and a business world in which today’s emerging economies dwarf the established ones, bringing a billion new consumers with a radically different view of products and services, as well as in which surging resource costs – especially energy costs – crush today’s global business models.
In the past, when new waves of technology swept into our businesses – everything from the 1980s’ PCs to today’s empowered technologies – the reaction was the swinging pendulum of “decentralized/embedded IT” followed by “centralized/industrialized IT.” These tired old reactions won’t work in the world 2020. Instead, businesses must move to a model we call Empowered BT.
Empowered BT empowers business to pursue opportunities at the edge and the grassroots – but to balance this empowerment with enterprise concerns. Key to this balance is the interplay between four new “meta roles” – visionaries, consultants, integrators, and sustainability experts – combined with a new operating model based on guidelines, mentoring, and inspection. Also key is IT changing from a mindset in which it needs to control technology to one in which it embraces business ownership of technology decisions.
The teleconference chat window was busy as James and I presented our research. Here are the questions we weren’t able to answer due to time.
EA teams like to know how mature their EA practice is. There are a lot of EA maturity models out there. You will find some of these assessments and maturity models discussed in a 2009 Forrester report. Many EA teams share the idea that there is a single “ultimate EA model” and that EA leaders should strive to move up the ladder to this ultimate model. It’s like a video game – you try to get to the next level.
For the past three months, the EA team’s Researcher Tim DeGennaro has been looking at these models and Forrester’s research on EA best practices to create a framework for assessing EA programs. This looked deceptively simple: Develop criteria based on the best practices we see in leading EA organizations, create an objective scale to rate an organization’s progress, offer reporting to illuminate next steps, and wrap it in an easy-to-use assessment package. What we’ve found so far is not only that avoiding the effects of subjectivity and lack of context is impossible but also that many assessment styles disagree on the most crucial aspect: What exactly is EA supposed to be aiming for?