BPM Goes Mainstream

By Doug Bartholomew Print this article Print

Business Process Management is showing gains in productivity and process visibility, but the process-heavy technology practice is not without lacking commitment. 

The good news is that technology to support business process management (BPM) has become widely accepted, with a majority of enterprises having BPM projects, according to a pair of recent surveys.

The bad news is that implementing BPM—which requires real process change to succeed—is no slam dunk. In fact, in a recent survey from Forrester Research a majority of IT professionals at 142 companies reported the type of mixed results from BPM more closely associated with a three-pointer.

BPM uses software to manage and continuously optimize an organization’s activities and core processes. Typically, BPM software packages are designed to foster integration, workflow and document management.   

On the downside, both surveys indicated a lack of organizational commitment to the process changes required to make BPM effective. For instance, more than 40 percent of respondents to a survey by Virtusa Corp. and PRTM Management Consultants reported they had no clearcut decision-makers in place to manage BPM programs.

“The organizational leadership must believe that process improvement is important for BPM to succeed,” says Tarun Sharma, worldwide head of the BPM practice at Virtusa, an IT services provider. Adds chief marketing officer Marc Hebert,  “BPM is just beginning to be standardized as a key tool in the enterprise.” 

The Virtusa/PRTM survey of business and IT professionals at 125 companies found that only 15 percent had a vision, with stated goals and objectives, for BPM. “In our experience, to get the most value out of a major new initiative like BPM, companies need to integrate clear business improvement goals into a multi-year roadmap,” Hebert says.

Many of those interviewed said that their BPM projects typically lacked senior executive sponsorship, with only 24 percent having a vice president or senior executive in charge of the project.

And in the mixed-results category, while 72 percent of the Virtusa/PRTM survey respondents reported having IT-enabled collaboration capabilities, most admitted in follow-up interviews that these systems worked poorly. In many cases, the technology used to support business collaboration were knowledge management or file-sharing systems that were ineffectually structured, lacked adequate version control, and were not linked to relevant business processes.

This article was originally published on 2008-04-03
Doug Bartholomew is a career journalist who has covered information technology for more than 15 years. A former senior editor at IndustryWeek and InformationWeek, his freelance features have appeared in New York magazine and the Los Angeles Times Magazine. He has a B.S. in Journalism from Northwestern University.
eWeek eWeek

Have the latest technology news and resources emailed to you everyday.