Successes in Process Automation

The Adelaide BPMLink presentation this evening provided an interesting insight into achieving process improvement through the implementation of a technology platform and the adoption of dynamic processes. I have previously written that I do not favour either of these approaches; however I am having a re-think!

Jane and Marc from Bradham Consulting discussed a process that they successfully implemented using the Handysoft BPM suite and more specifically utilising the BizFlow Office Engine. The business process dealt with very sensitive material that needed to be handled differently depending on the nature of the content; dynamically determined tasks allowed for each instance of the process to be automated while still being controlled and audit-able.

One of the lessons learnt from this exercise was the need to also educate the participants in IT to ensure they have the required level of maturity. I have often through that a big part of the facilitation activities for improving processes is to educate the participants on process management thinking; IT is now an additional important step.

Marc gave us another tip – to help the participants understand the process; get them to draw it.

The team mentioned that there was a large amount of effort put into developing the forms, including incorporating the “reality” processes that were not part of the original analysis. This mirrors my own experience, where I have seen traditional BPMS solutions full short because they do not handle the interface between the user and the automated process – and that is where the majority of the business rules and logic can reside.

My final thought was that the project demonstrated a good use of technology to solve the business problem; which was not necessarily improving the business process. BY doing this well, the organisation is now better equipped to embrace real process management. I’m shifting my approach, how does this compare to yours?

Method in my BPM Madness!

At the recent Australian BPM Round table session I did a quick survey of participants to see, amongst other things, what BPM Frameworks are being used in Australian organisations?

I was not surprised by the result, however it is interesting that out of 20 organisations there was not 1 recognised BPM Framework that had been adopted; and comments were even made that they are not necessary. I think this last comment related to the terminology being used.

I have recently added a new page to the Executive Guide to BPM explaining what a BPM Framework is and why they are needed. See the Process of Process Management. For me, implementing BPM is implementing a Business Process and therefore you need a guide on how you are doing it!

What BPM Frameworks are there?

The challenge is finding and evaluating a Framework. There are three main sources;

  1. Books
  2. Training
  3. Vendors

I was introduced to my first Framework by Roger Burlton of the Process Renewal Group. The Process Renewal Group Framework is based on Roger’s book, Business Process Management: Profiting From Process; however the best understanding of the Framework and the techniques to implement it came from attending Roger’s training course and being mentored by the Group.

There are other Frameworks that come from similar sources, and consequently I have not had the opportunity to review any of them, I just know that they exist from web research. Frameworks from BPMInstitute.org and Management By Process are examples of training / consultant led offerings.

Another option is to adopt the processes recommended by your BPMS vendor. The advantage of this option is that the framework is tailored to the tools you have available. This can also be a disadvantage if you do not already use the tool as the training seems to be inherently linked, even if the framework is generically good. An example of this may be the framework promoted by Appian.

There may be some more generic options, such as the Association of Business Process Management Professionals (ABPMP) Common Body of Knowledge. As I am not a member I have not reviewed this framework; however there is a good summary presentation available, see Guide to BPM CBOK.

The Round Table also attempted to develop a common methodology which was called The Process of Process Improvement (TPPI). The output of the exercise can be found on the BPM-Collaboration TPPI Wiki (registration is required).

At the moment I am evaluating the BPTrends methodology that is based on the book Business Process Change by Paul Harmon. This methodology is supported in Australian by Leonardo Consulting who have written an excellent summary of the methodology and the certification program that they offer; see Achieving Process-Based Management.

I am sure there are many BPM Framework offerings that I have not covered here. If you know of one or you have a framework or methodology to offer – please leave a comment to let me know. I am also keen to collect or create reviews of the Frameworks that are available.

What Framework are you using or considering?