BPM Is Not IT
This is a serious pet peeve of mine. Many business professionals think of business process management (BPM) purely in terms of the technological tools that enable it. Countless vendors sell “BPM” as though you can buy it in a box, hire a developer, and magically experience fully integrated BPM throughout your organization.
BPM often constitutes a fundamental shift in the way managers think about running a business. It’s about knowing and deeply understanding how your organization works, what makes it tick, and how all the cogs and wheels make everything function. IT solutions are not the core of BPM; they are supports for the deeper intellectual practice and daily application of BPM.
I’m not saying that IT capabilities aren’t important. They can be tremendously useful, but they aren’t essential to begin building BPM maturity. I love my IT brethren, and I don’t know a single IT professional who wants to waste his time developing, rolling out, and training people to use software applications they do not know how to apply in context. Just as nails and a hammer do little good if you don’t know what you’re supposed to build, IT tools offer very little if the people expected to use them do not understand what their organization’s vision of successful BPM is.
If your organization needs more aligned business processes, better cohesion from department to department, and a deeper and more responsive understanding of itself, do not simply throw money at IT fixes and vendor promises. BPM is not something money alone can bring. Growing mature BPM primarily takes time. And yes, time is money, but it’s money much better spent. Developing a deeper understanding of BPM before purchasing high-dollar IT solutions will help you make a better decision when it IS time to buy.
For more about what BPM really is, APQC’s first major BPM report hits the spot: Business Process Management. For a lighter read, try Ten Characteristics of Successful Business Process Management Initiatives or Seven Tenets of Process Management. And to assess your BPM maturity, study Evaluating Your Organization's Process Management Capabilities.