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Can BPM deliver?

Many of the everyday challenges that business leaders are facing today relate to how the business is managing its middle and back office processes. This might include a lack of visibility into how the business is performing because processes are not documented, or real processes differing from documented processes. Customer satisfaction may be waning due to long response times, unhandled exceptions in customer processes, or complex, uncoordinated customer service. The organisation may be unable to launch new business tactics quickly to compete effectively or exploit new opportunities. There may even be issues associated with complying with government, industry or internal regulations, as well as SLAs with customers and partners.

So where do we start in terms of addressing these challenges?

SOA is promising to usher in a new era of business agility. And today many enterprises are rolling out SOA and achieving reduced costs of integration and more rapid development cycles. But these initiatives are primarily focused on efficiency and adaptability in IT. And the agility that SOA promises depends as much on supporting new efficiencies for people as it does on liberating access to systems and services.

Undoubtedly, BPM helps to deliver seamless process integration by measurement. KPIs and other business metrics are defined in the process model and, as processes are executed, process owners can continuously track these indicators to gain operational visibility and identify opportunities for optimisation. However, this optimisation can only be achieved when the loop of 'modelling-execution-measurement' has been closed.

So, what tools does an organisation need in order to take control of business process management? The answer is a software product suite, for creating, executing and optimising business processes. In the past many BPM initiatives have stalled on technology grounds. Now that SOA is gaining acceptance though, BPM software seems to have a brighter future. And with standards emerging for SOA design and deployment, maybe the foundations are being laid for BPM.

Ian Jones
NCC Head of Content

(ITadviser, Issue 54, Summer 2008)

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