Webinar: Taking BPM to another level

I’ve just finished listening to an ebizQ webinar How to Take BPM to Another Level in Your Organization, featuring Jim Sinur from Gartner. webMethods is the sponsor, so Susan Ganeshan, their VP of Product Development, is also on the line.

Sinur made a quick plug for the upcoming overpriced Gartner BPM summit, but then dug into some interesting material. Much of it was a duplicate of what I had seen presented by Michael Melenovsky in Toronto a few weeks ago — such as the comparison between a functionally-driven and process-driven enterprise, and the set of practices required around BPM — but it was good to see it again since I still haven’t received a set of slides from the Toronto seminar so had to rely on my rough notes. I liked the slide on the roles and responsibilities of business and IT, especially the centre column showing the shared responsibilities:

  • Process deployment
  • Process execution and performance
  • Business and process rules analysis and management
  • Operational procedures including version level control
  • Creation of process, rules, and events repository
  • Detailed process design
  • Training and education
  • Event analysis and management

This lines up with what I’m seeing with my customers, as IT relinquishes more control to the business, and the business starts to step up to the challenge in order to ensure that what gets implemented is actually what they need. I believe that the business still needs to be more proactive in this area: in the large financial institutions that I mainly work with, many parts of the business have become completely passive with respect to new technology, and just accept (while complaining) whatever is given them. I’m not in favour of giving over design control to the business, but they definitely need to be involved in this list of activities if the BPM project is going to hit the ground running.

I also liked the slide on what’s happening with rules and BPM in the context of policy-managed applications:

This is a very enterprise architecture-like view of the process, where you see the business policies at the top, the resultant rules immediately below that, then the linkages from the rules to the data and services at the bottom, which are in turn plugged into specific steps of the process. Making these linkages is what ultimately provides business agility, since it allows you to see what parts of the technology will be impacted by a change in a policy, or vice versa. There really needs to be more enterprise architecture modelling going on as part of most organizations, but particularly as it related to process orchestration and BPM in general.

At the 22 minute mark, Sinur returned to another 2 minutes of shameless plugging for the conference. Considering that we were just warming up for the “real” vendor to start plugging their product, the commercial content of this webinar was a bit high.

Although webMethods supposedly entered the BPM market back in 2001 on their acquisition of IntelliFrame, I’m not seeing them on any BPM radar screens — they’re really considered more of an integration suite. Ganeshan really should have practiced reading her script before she read it on the air, too, although she was much better at the Q&A. Except for the remark about how they don’t do BPMN because their customers really like webMethods’ “richer” proprietary interface instead (as if they have a choice).

At the end, the moderator showed the results of the survey question that she had posed near the beginning of the webinar. No big surprises here, although interesting to note that all of the drivers (except for document compliance) are becoming equally important to people. The trend that I’m seeing is that the goal of improving operational efficiency (shown on this survey as “reduce operational costs” and “reduce process errors”) are being taken for granted: everyone expects that will be the result of implementing BPM, so it’s not considered the main business driver. Instead, process visibility and process orchestration are moving to the forefront, which in turn drive the agility that allows an organization to bring its products and services to market faster.

ebizQ is using some new webinar software lately (or maybe a new version) which has some nice new features. It allows you to download the presentation at any time (other webinar providers could learn a HUGE lesson from that), zoom on the slides, and other features from the previous version, but now also shows a list of upcoming webinars in the sidebar and allows you to pop up a list of the attendees (first name and company only). Unfortunately, I had some major connectivity problems that resulted in a five minute gap right at the beginning of the Q&A, so I’ll have to go back to the replay and check it out. Fortunately, they publish the replays very quickly after the event, using the original URL, another good lesson for other webinar providers.

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