Why we don’t need a Body of Knowledge for BPM

Recently it was released a proposal for creation of Body of Knowledge for BPM. http://www.processknowledge.org/BandaraHarmonRosemannOctober2010.pdf?attredirects=0

Some professionals argue that it is necessary to normalize the existence of BPM practice, taking into account the increasing (?) difficulties on what BPM really is, what are the techniques and how BPM should be implemented, what are the different BPM  disciplines Modeling, Analysis, Implementation …

In the last decade some organizations have tried to create certification programs for BPM professionals and after reading the document I have this idea:

  • BPM is an evolving concept and should not be restricted to a dominant concept;
  • In my experience from the time I worked in manufacturing industry, standards that are developed by a committee tend to be complex and difficult to understand (BPMN for example)  unlike those who are thought by few people or even by a single person who tend to be simple.
  • With so many resources available about BPM concepts: tools, improvement techniques it’s difficult to reach a consensus on what is the best way to define a concept, because in some cases the professional experience makes the difference or other organization already devoted effort to define what such concept is (eg Lean or UML).
  • I clearly see BPM in constant evolution where new disciplines such as Outside-In, Advanced Case Management, Semantic BPM, Social BPM are pouring in It difficult these days to say what belongs to BPM or not. Everyday professionals discovered new approaches that are not even considered valid by the community.

I wait your comments. In my opinion this project is not necessary.

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13 thoughts on “Why we don’t need a Body of Knowledge for BPM

  1. Good day I was luck to look for your blog in digg
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  2. How to develop BPM skills, where to find BPM skills and how to address the skills shortage is a chronic problem. It takes at least one year, and often longer, a to grow these skills for business analysts, process analysts, and business architects. Even if you were to turn to outside service providers for help, they face the same skills shortage that their customers do. As a result, somebody, somewhere needs to develop a comprehensive BPM training program that ends with a credible certification. I think developing a comprehensive training program is more important than the certificate or certification process itself. Probably this issue falls most squarely on the shoulders of academia to develop a BPM curriculum and degree, even if it is just a focus within a management concentration in an MBA program or undergraduate business degree. I think the ABPMP certification program is a good first step. It has flaws, but overall, the BPM community needs this first step. I would be much more sceptical of a certification program developed by the vendor community, no matter how well-intentioned the individuals may be.

    • I agree with Connie 100%. ABPMP is a great start. But I think the “certification process” in itself will help drive the development of comprehensive training programs.

      The views expressed by Alberto Manuel are completely detrimental to the BPM practitioners / process / community / future.

  3. I completely agree with Connie. I think it will take several BOK versions from multiple sources, and just time, before the discipline of BPM is in the same place as something like EA, etc. We need these BOK to foster the right discussion; they should be considered a critical means to an end, not the end goal itself.

    • I’m with Connie on this one. Attempts to establish a body of knowledge before there’s a real body of broad best practice run the risk of stifling something like BPM.

      In some senses, I think that EA is suffering from this syndrome right now.

  4. I think Connie makes some excellent points.
    In full disclosure I should say that I’m part of the Technical Advisory Board for the Process Knowledge initiative that you’re referring to (so you can say “well, you would say that wouldn’t you”) I *do* think this is an important initiative.

    Your argument seems to be partly about the lack of value of a certification initiative, and I can see where you’re coming from. But at the moment, there’s no intent that I can see to focus on certification. The Process Knowledge Initiative is seeking to pull together material to help people educate themselves.

    Your argument also seems to revolve around the question of change. If the field is evolving so quickly, I guess, what use is a static BOK? My argument against this point is that the intention of the Process Knowledge Initiative, as I understand it, is that the BOK will be openly maintained and anyone can contribute. It’ll be a set of living documents – not a closed book. It will evolve over time as our practice and knowledge evolves.

    Still, I’ll admit that we may not live up to these goals. But I and many others are going to try really hard to make sure we do succeed! Hopefully at some point in the future we’ll be able to count on your feedback?

  5. I appreciate all your comments.

    Before developing my argument I would like to introduce an important principle on standard development. Most of the time standards developed by one or few people are easily understood by a community rather than standards that are developed by a community that tends to be complicated to understand.

    I have background in manufacturing industry interacting with technical committees, government organizations and I had always this idea. Same happens today.

    One of the best examples of the above principle is this spectacular book: Design Patterns- Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software created by the Gang of four. For those who are somewhat familiar in IT architecture know how simple is to understand pattern usage in the object oriented world.

    Regarding the need to create a body of knowledge, instead of being here to discuss the paragraphs included in the manifesto, I would like to provide a real world example why I consider that it’s not necessary such a thing.

    Two years ago I was called to resolve a problem on a client. The client wanted to shorten invoicing cycle time.

    For the invoice to be issued it was necessary to duplicate and copy information that resided on systems. There were many paper records that were needed for the task.

    At that time, the customer had no budget to invest in a document management solution (and even though it would not solve the problem).

    After doing an analysis to the as-is situation I decided that the best technique to improve the process was Lean Office.

    • I moved people from desks.
    • Put some people who were most qualified to perform certain tasks.
    • Update the system to where it was possible, in order to stop introducing three times the same information.
    • Improved data sources, and data quality.
    • No more with document batch processing.
    • I used simple tools like e-mail and a scanner to prevent paper flying in the office.
    • Did not used Value Stream maps because people do not understand it, did nor use process flows because people do not understand either. Ultimately not process maps at all.

    Make a reflection and leave your comments:

    • To what extent this body of knowledge can support people to decide what is the best technique to improve a process? I believe that it gets very difficult to prescribe certain technique. In fact what usually happens is when a technique becomes popular, all professionals apply it even if the worst technique to improve a process (usually performance gets worst).

    • How can we deepen BPM concepts when there is material available on almost all subjects? Dozens of books already written about Lean, Six Sgigma, Process Improvement, where people can sip the contents? This is not a duplication itself?

    • If for example when using Lean, it is mandatory (it is here where it starts) use Value Stream maps. How people could think for themselves that in some cases this procedure is painful for the organization? And if the company only use BPMN? How do you do? Does this PKBOK can help the necessary reasoning or is it the people’s experience that make a difference (is what usually happens).

    • I agree with the idea of creating a document, repository on an ontological perspective. Perhaps a guide that explains to people what the concepts really mean (see for example the difference between a patterns and a model) in order to not misapply it.

    I continue to consider that this body of knowledge is unable to transmit the necessary expertise. It is people’s experience that make a difference (is what usually happens).

  6. Pingback: Interesting Body of Knowledge Discussion » Process for the Enterprise

  7. Pingback: Process definition needs an update « End to End BPM

  8. Pingback: BPM Lisbon Conference 2011 wrap up « End to End BPM

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