A far cry from early days when business process management was considered a solution for workflow, BPM is now valued as an engine for embedding companies’ rules systems and entrenching processes. Yet, it is far from being mature.
“Increasingly, companies are using BPM as the conduit between business imperatives and execution. However, while there are companies have reached a level of maturity in their use of BPM tools and we are seeing pockets of excellence, the BPM industry as a whole is far from that.
“BPM, as a technology, management discipline and approach, is set to undergo some dramatic changes in the next decade and the majority of companies have yet to realise the full extent of its value.
“BPM maturity is dependent on strategy, companies’ willingness to invest, the development of corporate BPM centres of excellence and wider-spread adoption. These factors must come together and then dovetail over a broad range of industries before we can consider labelling the industry as mature,” says Jacques Wessels, the CEO of FlowCentric Technologies, a South Africa-based developer of smart Business Process Management (BPM) systems.
The company is sponsoring the 2012 ITWeb BPM Survey to gauge the level of BPM maturity in the South African context, gain a deeper understanding of companies’ BPM buying patterns and get insight into which industries are leading the way when it comes to BPM deployment and leveraging the benefits.
“We already know that companies face some challenges when it comes to implementing BPM such as managing the complexities associated with change management and users’ behavioural adjustments.
“While we are seeing more companies move to a business outcome approach with BPM as opposed to just using it to improve processes, a lot of organisations are still addressing BPM as a tactical issue rather than a strategic one. This is largely due to the fact that sponsorship is not at the right level and adoption is often in silos,” says Wessels.
He believes that exciting times lie ahead for BPM with trends such as intelligent BPM, agile process management and mobile BPM applications emerging. These trends are forcing vendors to tune BPM tools to the context of specific industries and Wessels says it won’t be long before BPM is delivered as readymade applications for different industries.
“The emphasis is going to be on vendors contextualising BPM for different industries and becoming specialists in certain fields. Generic approaches and tools will no longer cut it.”
Wessels says that BPM’s future success lies in empowering individuals to decide when, how and where BPM can make a difference to their business and personal environment.
“This requires an intelligent approach to software engineering and the ability to provide a platform that allows on-demand access to technology and the deployment of solutions that are relevant, while circumventing long planning and deployment cycles.
“Semantic process suites are the layer currently missing from BPM. This is presently the biggest challenge for the next wave of BPM solutions. They need the ability to allow intelligent BPM process and associate data, and include processes and outcomes to offer improvement and value without the need for remodelling / development.
“Semantic Process Application encodes meanings separate to code, data and content, delivering alternatives not otherwise considered. This will allow people and process to reason, share and understand at execution time. In some ways it can be considered as reverse processing where process is mapped back from the end result to find more efficient ways of doing things.
“With the onset of Cloud, we will see a platform that will enable a larger population of users to access processes that are relevant to their own area of work. Technology is there to adjust to the way we work. Traditional process optimisation and execution is the domain of leadership and management. We have yet to create the platform for the worker to access processes that can improve their own environments. This will be the pinnacle for BPM,” concludes Wessels.