BPM Agenda 2013

We are somehow in the middle of a new transformation movement in the BPM arena, regarding the blend with social technologies. Social tech is responsible by the change we are engaging with others to work and opening new paths regarding approaches to collaborate and taking work execution out of enterprise boundaries. It’s funny how preachers and gurus one decade ago were trying to push the corporate world to design truly end to end processes and an unorganized movement (the social practice ) make a dream become true. I should say that this is a victory of the commons (or main street) that were able to show faster and intelligent collaboration was possible, contrary to some managers that pursue a rigid communication flow among people and peers (do not confuse with structured process approaches).

It is true that technology is introducing new possibilities (and I tend to think that the pervasiveness of new entrants like Internet of things will make change a step further) but on the other hand I feel that BPM is being driven by the available technology menu that halts managers to develop a vision how to continue to deliver value.

When we look back on the past achievements, he saw that business transformation as being publicize in case studies, BPM events and vendors solution portfolio, is focused on automation (sorry ACM partisans, but ACM is a new type of enterprise automation) and an important slice of the business is somehow being forgotten.

Challenges by industry sector:

Some industries examples bellow:

  • Logistics – for logistics, what is important is maximizing the amount of cargo transported, optimizing itineraries, paperless transactions, location, seamless transport mode interchange, fraud detection and intelligent transport price calculation. Some of this challenges are being addressed by ERP (Hugh, ERP?) and custom system development, but most of the listed points are being ignored and diminishing the gross margin.
  • Electrical energy – the goal of this type of company is sell energy, not reduce the time it takes to handle complains. For that it’s necessary to think and development “real” intelligent methods to maximize distribution lines availability and predictive failure models to make more with transformers and other type of equipment to produce, transport and distribute energy.
  • Oil and Gas – there is a single and most important kpi in this type of industry. Making more of crude oil input that enters in refineries. The more you make from crude into diesel, gasoline and other oil products, the more you gain.
  • Manufacturing – here, assembly line operations are key, together with product development innovation, logistics and order management. Maybe because manufacturing operations are continuously being “exported” to aspiring high GDP countries ( with consequences to the sovereign debt crises) are becoming out of the BPM event radar being put at the corner. For sure there are examples of technology that is helping people to communicate better and reduce errors (this is an area here we hear lots of time of substituting entirely the ERP by other types of BPM technology) nevertheless, improving manufacturing operations and deliver value added products it makes the difference. did you remember the Dell’s outcomes and ultimately Apple?

Thus, looks like the new wave of accomplishments will continually headed to the “new ” low hanging fruit, improve customer service, handle complex complains and requests, but the important challenges like the examples above is being forgotten. Why you don’t take a look into your value chain and start thinking to improve what really deliver value to your customers and where the money comes from?

Challenges by approach:

  • Outsourcing: this is a zone where there are good and bad examples, but most of times it hurts the company. There are some goods approaches that lecture you to get rid of non added value processes. For example, if you are on manufacturing or retail, is better to get sell the trucks and lay off the truck drivers and the logistics personnel. The same applies for example if your company is a heavy manufacturing industry  and decide to outsource maintenance. The first 3 years are gold. Company balance sheet looks very good, the burden cost are wiped out, and the net results / earnings improve, but them it bounces back the other side of the coin. In Logistics outsourcing for example, service level degrades or if your partner has a highly structured service design, it will start charging you for forced stop time (when the truck arrives and the warehouse personnel does not want to load /unload it). In industrial Maintenance, the outsources does not had past experience dealing with the equipment (that knowledge was lost when you lay off your personnel) and down time increases, or unnecessary maintenance operations are executed, increasing maintenance cost. Solution for this? Maybe you should continue to design the process with your partner, or before go for outsource, radically improve it internally.

Challenges by design:

  • Those who have read Steve Job’s biography, knows that he never admitted the possibility of using stylus pen for the iPhone, despite it make a lot easier to build the device. It’s curious that in the past, when I was in manufacturing I had budget restrictions and me and my team need to find radically new approaches to decrease the time to produce and improve product quality. The stylus story makes me remember when it was necessary to improve the freezer evaporator. The current approach was to change the design of the coils that would induce more men / labor or invest in a automatic coiling machine (but I had no budget). On the other hand coil evaporator had sometimes problems with gas leaks, that make it much less reliable. I put on the top of the table to change the evaporator system to a single aluminum sheet. In those days, that were not the industry standard and it cost a lot of money because there were not scale economies. I worked close with supplier and make it happen. In the end a better product was delivered to the market, it took less time to produce and contribute to increase the margin. When was the last time you think it’s time to bring innovation by design to your products and services?


The challenge, help to construct the agenda:

On purpose I do not want to extend the post to every possible scenario (also because its a sign of lack of humility). Thus I leave where a challenge: complete the agenda and leave a comment. Who knows this can become a program for an upcoming independent BPM event.


4 thoughts on “BPM Agenda 2013

  1. First of all, I absolutely agree with your opening line : “We are somehow in the middle of a new transformation movement in the BPM arena, regarding the blend with social technologies” . I believe we are only now beginning to fathom the real significance and potential this whole social paradigm has, to change the way we think about an ‘organization’, how it is structured, how it handles flow of work, how it shares knowledge and collaborates internally.

    Secondly, I think you make a great point about this hunger to find immediate benefits, those quick hits. And it troubles me to no end. Interestingly in a moment of anguish, I said this! :p We seem to always chase the ‘quick wins’ and leave out the real elephant in the room. But then, if we are talking about this in the BPM context, we need to see that while BPM maybe about business, it need not necessarily be the panacea to EVERY business problem.

    I think in the end you have the point right: the question is about being vehement about the fundamentals and those fundamental objectives that really count.

    Great points, Alberto.

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