Location: Orlando, Florida
Dates: October 19-22, 2009
It has been over nine years since I have attended a Gartner Group symposium. I always used to go as an attendee (paying of course). This time, I attended as a VIP in the Gartner VIP Program. Not much has changed, such as the locale (Disney), the scope (entire Gartner pool of research), but the crowds were smaller than in the 90’s. Probably due to the economic gloom and doom of 2008/2009. There was only one, maybe two, sessions on IT Service Management. What was exciting is that there were many more sessions on BPM. And BPM had its own area of the ITExpo. Some of the highlights of the conference;
- 95% of the customers say that their BPM projects have escaped the axe. In fact, most have reported that there is even more management support for BPM than ever (thanks to this economy)
- Some of Gartner’s research also points to the fact that organizations are leveraging BPM more often and its trending towards the IT organization rather than just in the business. Obviously, this bodes well for an organization like ICCM who has created IT best practice processes based on ITIL v3.
- Metastorm leads the pack for Microsoft-centric BPM. “Because of its round-tripping capabilities, ease of use, enterprise architecture support in its Provision product and strong support for business role collaboration, it is well-suited to business transformation and continuous process improvement usage scenarios.”
- BPM is most often leveraged successfully where Continual Process (service) improvement is sought
- Quite often Cost Savings are the primary goal of BPM projects, but after Customer Satisfaction and Quality improvements are realized, cost pressures improved.
Monday morning kicked off with a welcome address from Gartner CEO, Gene Hall followed by Peter Sondergaard, Gartner’s Global Head of Research. Peter provided insight into what’s ahead for the industry and discussed findings of recent Gartner research. He predicted a 2.3% increase in IT spending in 2010 and advised careful planning with three key areas in mind:
- IT operational spending
- Increasing age of hardware as organizations delay updates
- Demonstrating hard evidence of business performance improvement.
The CIO Program kicked off on Sunday with a special keynote delivered by Vivek Kundra, the Federal CIO of the US Government. Kundra discussed his work to drive transparency, engage citizens and lower the cost of government operations. There were also three Mastermind Interviews with:
- Mark Hurd, Chairman & CEO, HP – Hurd discussed his vision for HP, the role of the CEO and the company’s transformation during his tenure.
- Eric Schmidt, Chairman & CEO, Google – As CEO since 2001, Schmidt detailed his focus on building Google’s corporate infrastructure to support rapid growth, while ensuring quality stays high and minimizing product development cycles.
- Stephen Elop, President, Microsoft Business Division – discussed changing the culture at Microsoft and his support of the consumerization of IT
Basically, the good message I got from the conference (and was actually quoted in Jim Sinur’s blog http://blogs.gartner.com/jim_sinur/2009/10/22/whats-hot-in-bpm/ was that BPM is “the next thing” and it is not a matter of if, but when…
In sharing our solution with some of the attendees, there was definite interest in learning more about an IT Service Management solution such as e-Service Desk, that leverages and industry leading BPM Engine from Metastorm, but comes with “ready to go” processes that can be immediately leveraged to demonstrate value.
ICCM had an excellent show in Dallas, Texas at the ITSMF USA Fusion09 conference. There was a lot of interest and buzz about our solution, e-Service Desk. It also highlighted for us the need to continue to raise awareness and education in areas that on the surface, appear equivalent, but in reality are very, very different. During the many demonstrations, several Fusion09 attendees asked us; “What exactly is the difference between BPM and Workflow?”. The obvious observation was that they were one in the same. This is simply not the case as you will see below.
Every BPMS (Business Process Management Suite) and BPM (Business Process Management) solution set on the market have in common key differentiators from the “embedded workflow” often found within applications. Some of these differences include;
- Embedded, application based workflow is usually application-specific sequencing of pre-defined activities (ie. in an ITSM context, Change Management workflow is just Change Management)
- Embedded, application based workflow rarely interacts with external processes, systems or data sources
- Embedded, application based workflow often leverages proprietary graphics, execution language, etc
- Embedded, application based workflow effectively provides the ability to choose the specific order of execution of pre-built activity steps
The purpose of this article isn’t to contrast application specific workflow to BPM in a negative context. Application based workflow can and is often implemented as a subset of BPM. The original premise of BPM was to manage and coordinate processes executed in other technologies and on different systems as well as within itself. The initiatiation, monitoring and termination can be integrated at any point in the process to any application. BPM allows us to design and execute business process systems without being subject to the constraints of a single application or single location.
One of the value propositions of BPM is how it is often leveraged at an enterprise level to deliver processes and services beyond the company firewall. Quite often this ability is a driver for BPM within an organization. This enables processes to extend to and include remote company locations, supply chain and business partners, and agents of your organization. In this context, there are some other less obvious, but important distinctions of BPM over embedded workflow;
- BPM inherently provides diverse integration and technology support as business and supply chain partners always have different technologies.
- BPM provides the ability to vary process descriptions locally while keeping common touch points for systems to enable collaboration.
- Most BPM Suites typically can leverage industry standards such as BPEL, XPDL, and BPMN
As stated in my previous post; “Optimizing IT with BPM”. The basic value proposition of BPM is the ability to enable business (or IT) processes with less effort and cost, with higher quality than traditional means. In fact, BPM is intended to respond to the following set of business values; Agility – The ability to bring new products and services to market more quickly and adapt processes more effectively to changing market demands; Efficiencies – Most processes are inefficient due to manual effort, poor hand-offs between departments and a general inability to monitor overall progress. The deployment of BPM solutions helps to eliminate these problems. The efficiency benefits are typically expressed in the reduced number of Full Time Employee’s (FTE’s) required to perform particular tasks; and Visibility – Providing management insight into process-based performance indicators. This enables an organization to make better business decisions and handle exceptions better.
Gartner research indicates that even without process redesign, a basic investment in a BPM suite yields significant returns. By simply “making the current-state handoffs, timing and responsibilities explicit, productivity improvements of more than 12 percent are normally realized”. In another report, Gartner indicates that 78% of projects see an internal rate of return (IRR) of greater than 15%. The same report indicates that these projects were deployed in very quick order (67% in less than six months, 50% in less than four months). How are these kind of results consistently possible? Once you understand how BPM works, it becomes clear;
- The ability to design process in a graphical (non-technical) way by the business process owner or analyst;
- The ability of the application to easily integrate with a wide range of data sources and supporting systems, with bi-directional data sharing;
- The ability to quickly execute a new process for evaluation, a facility to “roll back” an executed process if you get it wrong, without having to do clean-ups to data etc.
In a survey conducted in 2007 by Forrester Research of ITIL adopters in 2007 67% believed they were benefiting from adoption but only 4% reported having means in place to measure that success! Only 9% of respondents could even link the process changes to performance improvements, 75% could not link process maturity to performance improvements!
When you take the technical capability of BPM, and drive it with a process framework such as ITIL, you end up with a unique, extraordinary solution that is as mature as any company needs, has an inherent roadmap built-in for future process and service integrations, but most importantly, provides the process management and measurement that so many companies have been longing for with their ITSM program.
- BPM is the definition, improvement and execution of an automated process
- BPM is rarely limited by technical constraints, and can be used to rapidly deploy solutions within, across and between organizations
- BPM is flexible enough to quickly adapt to changing business needs without requiring changes to the underlying technology
- BPM is flexible enough to allow changes in the underlying technology without requiring changes to the business process being executed
Special thanks to David Elliott of ICCM Solutions Ltd for providing much of the content above. He shares a Business Process Modeling and IT Management background like myself.