Business Process Transformation Is A Marathon. Are You Ready For The Race?

As some of you know, I am hopelessly addicted to golf. I can already hear you asking, “What does golf have to do with marathons, and what do marathons have to do with business processes?” Well, I’m glad you asked. Before becoming a golf addict, I was a runner – running 5Ks, 10Ks, and half marathons. My goal was to work my way up to a marathon. This is still my goal, but I learned a while ago that you can’t be a serious golfer and also be a serious runner – they both compete for long stretches of time on Saturday mornings (although I did have someone recommend that I combine the two into "marathon golf").

When I was a runner, I quickly learned that how you run a 5K or 10K is different from how you run a half-marathon. It seems obvious now, but when I trained for my first half marathon I didn’t realize how critical it was to hydrate all the way through and to also change your breathing technique. Ultimately, I found a training program that helped me get ready for my first race, and I ended up crossing the finish line in pretty good time and without killing myself.

When I speak with process professionals about plans for their BPM intiaitives, it reminds me of when I took the leap from running a 10K to running my first half marathon. Most process professionals don’t have a good game plan for transitioning from departmental process projects to delivering large-scale process transformation. And others struggle to figure out which level of process maturity (i.e., which race) they should aim for with their BPM initiatives.  Sticking with the running analogy, I’ve seen process teams train for a full-on marathon (implementing process transformation) that only end up running a 5K (implementing a small process project).

I’m currently putting the finishing touches on a keynote I will deliver with fellow analyst Dave West at Forrester’s upcoming Business Process & Application Delivery Forum: “Thrive In A Process-Driven World: Shift Your IT And Business Culture To Eat, Sleep, And Breathe Process”.  In this keynote, Dave and I lay out essential ingredients process professionals will need to run the marathon to process transformation. 

And for process professionals who want to roll up their sleeves and get to work, we’ll have two complete conference tracks that delve deep into building out a detailed game plan for process transformation. The first track, “Embrace Business Process Management To Drive And Deliver Business Transformation,” will feature sessions on “Building Process Skills,” “BPM: The New Language Of IT-to-BT,” and “Inside-Out Process Design”. The second track, “Getting Work Done In A Transformed Public Sector,” will feature sessions to help government agencies embrace BPM and dynamic case management as essential tools for transformation. 

So if you need to get your game plan to take the leap from running the 5K to running a 10K or full-on marathon with BPM, be sure to register and attend Forrester’s Business Process Forum, October 7-8. I’ll see you there with my running shoes on.


Not just starting, but finishing the race

Right on, Clay. Often BPM users get all excited starting a project but realize somewhere down the road that they don't have the directions or the stamina to the finish line. Call the uniform the product. But just becuase you put on the uniform doesn't make you a runner. To win the race you need conditioning (methodology), training (skills), and teammates (resources).

It is an interesting sight.

It is an interesting sight. Seeing runners show up at a run (5K, 10K, half-marathon, or marathon) with nice new running shoes on, but only able to run the first half of the race before getting winded. At one race, I saw a runner literally give up only yards away from the finish line. Much of what we're now focused on at Forrester for BP professionals is to help them cross the finish line and develop a discipline around training and conditioning for the BPM race. As one of our clients put it, maybe a marathon is not the best analogy, since the BPM "race" is continuous and ultimately becomes a way of life or embedded into the culture. So maybe a single BPM project is really the marathon, but "process transformation" represents the commitment to running and improving your race performance. Just a thought.