Some BPM Misunderstandings

Like to pose some  misunderstandings about BPM.
Maybe some BPM tool vendors will disagree and also some BPM consultancy firms, but then again this is my own humble opinion. Feel free to react, add your own, discuss.

Lets begin with a delicate one.

BPM makes my organisation flexible

A lot of people will say that BPM makes your organization flexible. It can be the case but then there must hold a couple of pre-conditions:

  • You must know where you want flexibility
    In this case you have to know the future and you do not know it.
  • You must have a good IT SOA architecture
    This is needed to be flexible to define your processes. Using Services will enable reuse and consistency throughout the architecture
  • It is only design time flexibility
    The statement that the business can change the process on the fly is mostly false. I have not seen it yet and is probably only a couple of configurations that can be changed so that parameters within the process are changed. This way you can steer the process but the process itself remains the same.

BPM is about tooling

  • It is a classic mistake that BPM is a IT party
    It should be an enterprise wide initiative because BPM is most of the time stretched horizontally concerning multiple business units. It should help the business in doing its business. The implementation of BPM should not be taken lightly, because it concerns a lot of implementation time. The visual BPMN diagrams can be drawn quickly but making it executable will take some time. Especially when a good SOA infrastructure has not yet been setup.

BPM is a visual programming tool

  • With the BPMN diagrams it looks like the BPM implementation is finished, but this is not the case. The model must be made executable so needs actual service implementation. Also it is sometimes used as implementation tool to implement services. I would not recommend this, because that is not where BPMN was originally designed for. It should orchestrate your business processes using services and business rules. Also BPMN does not perform well when using for big loops.

BPM lets the business change their own processes

  • The business can and must help defining the processes, but the processes itself can not be changed runtime (or on the fly). At least i have not seen such a BPMS suite yet. What mostly will happen is that business rules or parameters of the processes can be adapted by the business. Of course these kind of  tools must be build in within the process implementations at design time.

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