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Human Process Management is the Key to Driving Higher BPM Business Value

November 10th, 2008 by Jacob Ukelson

I was reading the latest Forrester BPM report on eBizQ and found it to be quite an interesting  read - especially for the endorsement it seemed to give human process management as a required extension to BPM - without actually naming it as such. That was my only quarrel with the authors - they expect BPM suites to be extended to handle unstructured, ad-hoc, chaotic (their term) human processes. That makes it sound like handling those types of process is just a small feature of an BPMS, a small extension that BPM suites should add. In my experience that isn’t the case - building an system to manage these types of human processes is  no trivial task, and don’t expect BPM vendors to be able to do it - it just requires a different type of thinking -especially since to get people to adopt it you need to unseat an entrenched “competitor” - email.  Here are some of the quotes that relate directly to human process management:

  • in real life, processes change all the time; in fact, our interviews consistently show that processes never stop changing

  • The outcome of a discounting decision may be captured in the BPMS by integrating or embedding a business rules engine, but the way the decision was made — the reason for the discount — is often recorded in an obscure email thread, if at all.”

  • “But many real-world, people intensive processes are so rife with exceptions that it’s impossible to model all the permutations in a traditional process modeling tool. These ad hoc, chaotic processes are difficult to support even using today’s BPMS tools”

OK -so even for the most structured processes in an organization - the ones that have actually been implemented via a BPMS - even those processes are constantly in flux - which means that almost always the users are going to need to morph and change the process before the IT department can reprogram system - no matter how good the tools are. So how is this actually handled in the real world? - no surprise here, it is done via email. These above quotes from the paper make it clear that no matter how well designed the process implementation is - it can’t anticipate every nuance of the process, or every new context - there will always be the need for a tool that allows end users the flexibility to handle the ever changing requirements and demands of real life business processes without IT involvement - while still allowing for management, monitoring and optimizing. Email provides the flexibility, and HPMS built on top of email - provides the rest. If not - BPM initiatives will bring only limited business value.

So in short - even for companies embarking on enterprise BPMS - remember H comes shortly after B, and you’ll need a good HPMS to round out your BPMS.

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