As momentum builds for dynamic case management (DCM), confusion reigns about where it fits in the BPM landscape. It’s a divisive issue, especially when a vendor has both a traditional BPM suite (BPMS) and a DCM product line (like IBM) or when the BPMS vendor hasn’t moved quickly to embrace case management (like Oracle). If, as a vendor, you have an abundance of BPMS riches, you haven’t seriously considered DCM, or if you are a BPMS buyer, it’s time to take DCM seriously.
This week I participated in a small group discussion with business and IT leaders who are focused on innovation. It was an interesting discussion that touched on these topics:
The scope of innovation. Yes, innovation is on everyone’s minds, in business publications and is the hot topic du jour. However, what exactly is innovation? What is the scope of innovation? Is it at the product or customer experience level, the business model level, the business process level, or at the departmental level? When talking about innovation, it’s critical to identify what level within the organization or the addressable market you are focused on and the scope of your desired innovation. That helps determine the sponsors and participants, the skill sets required, the change management approach, the timeline, and many other critical components of the engagement.
Sustainability. One of the biggest problems in innovation is sustainability — maintaining momentum over time. Often a senior executive comes in, shakes things up, gets people to buy into innovation, and then moves on in a couple of years. If leaders up and down the organization haven’t fully embraced the innovation efforts as their own, the effort gets orphaned and dies when the executive champion and thought leader leaves.
The industry sector. Most participants in the discussion felt that innovation almost always happens at the industry level — that industry expertise trumps technology expertise when coming up with strategic, game-changing ideas. They also thought that cross-training innovation leaders in IT if they are industry experts (and vice versa) is crucial. This means that CIOs may face a high hurdle when trying to get the business technology organization plugged into innovation initiatives.
My colleague, Principal Analyst Derek Miers, wrote something so significant in an email today that it gave me pause:
“It’s all about helping the executive understand the causal relationship between customer (success), process (how it gets done), and business results (revenue growth, profit, and sustainability of the business model). They are all tied up together.”
I could even see the picture in my mind:
Yet all too often CIOs and other business process leaders focus on getting the business process right and explaining business process methodologies to others. They use many comfortable and familiar terms, like:
Business process management
Business process transformation
Six Sigma/Lean Six Sigma
Or even: swim lanes, BPMN, process models, roundtripping, and so forth.
I’ve been working on a big idea for several months. The genesis of that idea was an internal collaboration about the future of enterprise suites versus business process management suites (BPMS). We actually had a mock debate about the future of these two software categories and asked:
Will enterprise suites, like CRM and ERP, dominate in 2015?
Or will BPM suites come on strong by 2015 and displace them as the next-generation software platform for processes?
Or will both types of suites sit somewhat uncomfortably within the same organization tackling different types of processes?
Most BPM practitioners already know that social networks and analytics play an important role in today’s BPM suites. Here’s how:
Social BPM provides an effective way to bring more workers into process discovery. This is true both for the “as-is” phase and, more importantly, for the “to-be” effort. The result? More voices are heard and more knowledge gets captured, providing better insights into process improvement and transformation. This leads to more buy-in from workers. Plus, companies can go to social BPM sites, like IBM Blueworks Live, and share process best practices, frameworks, and code with others outside their company. In short, social BPM helps expand the inputs during process discovery.
Analytics provide performance metrics and KPIs during the optimization phase. This gives business and IT leaders more insight into operations. For example, the business can quickly spot bottlenecks and take action, monitor customer service levels, track how top-tier customers are served, and determine if SLAs are met. Using analytics to monitor performance greatly enhances the value of BPMS from the executive perspective.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday I found myself in a gift shop chock-full of unique and interesting items. One sign (that was for sale) struck an immediate chord with me because it’s right on target with the business issues I often encounter when helping organizations adopt BPM programs. The sign said simply:
Throughout 2011, my colleague Claire Schooley and I have published research that focuses on change management — what methodologies and best practices to use, how to organize for change management, and pitfalls to avoid. But the “you go first” part of the sign grabbed my attention — it’s a great point. And to be honest, I haven’t seen a data-driven body of research about the pros and cons of going first in initiatives involving substantial change. If you know of something, we’d love to hear about it. Just add a comment to this post.
Probably everyone can think of the reasons why you shouldn’t go first:
There’s the old saying “Pioneers get an arrow in their backs.”
It’s risky (see bullet point 1).
Prototypes, pilots, or early adoptions are often half-baked and you waste a lot of time experimenting.
Going first may mean that you don’t have time to adequately do your “day job.”
If you go last, you get the benefit of all the feedback from those poor guys who went first!
Steve Spear not only lectures at MIT and leads workshops on continuous process improvement throughout the US and Europe, but he has also authored a book on the topic called The High-Velocity Edge. Most interesting is how close Steve gets to his subject; he’s not content to observe from afar. For example, he embedded himself into a Toyota team to develop a tier one supplier and has since then worked with Toyota on supplier leadership development. He worked with a hospital’s clinical staff to eliminate terrible complications like infections and patient falls while increasing capacity and reducing cost; he also helped develop and deploy the Alcoa Business System at Alcoa. Steve’s clients range from healthcare providers to manufacturers to food service companies to high-tech companies — making him conversant in businesses producing everything from potato chips to microchips. As a result, he not only speaks as an academic authority, but can also claim insight into how work gets done in the real world.
In June, Forrester convened a roundtable of some of its leading thought leaders on business process and customer experience to discuss empowering customers through business process transformation. This is also the topic of Forrester's Business Process Forum later in September and our Tweet Jam on September 8 from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm ET (hashtag: #BPF11).
Connie Moore: Where are enterprise suites going now that the game-changers — mobile, cloud and social — are giving new life to some apps that were looking long in the tooth? Do you think that big enterprise suites like CRM or ERP can empower customers, or do they automate the status quo? If they merely automate the status quo, how do you deliver business transformation?
Have you ever thought seriously about the future of business processes? If not, it’s time to. With trends coming at us fast and furious — business transformation, the age of the customer, mobility, cloud, social, process outsourcing — processes of the future will look very different from how we work today.
Forrester is in the process (pardon the pun) of looking at business processes in 2020. We’ve interviewed 10 major thought leaders at large global organizations and a number of systems integrators and vendors in the BPM space. Wow, have we learned a lot from these deep thinkers! Many of the trends they identified are already being actively worked on in their companies — so these are not just pipe dreams — and include:
A major strategic alignment between business process transformation and customer experience
Very little concern about technology issues — because they believe the technology will work well (and this is not what keeps them up at night even now)
A major focus on standardizing processes across the globe so that work can easily flow to the lowest-cost labor at any given moment
The belief that processes will run in the cloud (private or public) and that businesses will consume processes-as-a-platform
A strong conviction that IT will largely vanish into the business
The need for access to global talent pools driving some of the need for business process transformation
The expectation that being dynamic and turning on a dime will be critically important
Somebody please tell that to my health insurance company, which has annoyed me greatly this week. I’ve been receiving increasingly threatening letters from them, starting a few weeks ago just before I headed out for a long vacation. I didn’t think too much about it at the time but, a week after returning from vacation, I noticed the letters were now coming from a law firm. Yikes! I called them.
Turns out, my physical therapy claims for a chronic condition were under scrutiny. Microscopic scrutiny. “Could it have been the result of an automobile accident, and the other driver was at fault?” they asked. Or “Were you injured at work and should be filing for worker’s compensation?” Or was it some other kind of accident with nefarious connections of some sort? The claims subrogration unit was on the case and determined to make another party pay.
Exasperated, I told them that it was for a chronic condition diagnosed several years ago and all the information was on file and up to date, since I regularly see physicians for that condition and had been referred by a physician to physical therapy. Then they asked me to spell out the condition. I had steam coming out of my ears at that point. Why bother to have a file about me if they aren’t going to look at it, make it available to people calling me, and keep it up to date? Could they have worked this into their process before sending threatening letters and calling me?