The Most Unexpected Finding

By Doug Bartholomew  |  Posted 2008-04-03 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 most unexpected finding of the Virtusa/PRTM survey, Hebert says, was the frequent use of BPM technology as a tool to support new product development and innovation. Nearly half (47 percent) of the respondents said they were interested in deploying BPM for new product development initiatives.

“In the past, innovation was traditionally viewed as an art, but in recent years it’s become more process-driven,” says Hebert. “A tool such as BPM that helps formalize these processes and business rules can be an effective catalyst for innovation.”  

The second survey, by Forrester Research, also found a high adoption rate of BPM projects and tools. In a survey of 449 decision-makers in North America and Europe, some 60 percent were already using BPM, and an additional 19 percent planned to do so in the next 12 months. And a Forrester poll of more than 160 U.S. and U.K. enterprise architects had a similar finding, with 85 percent either actively planning for BPM or with one or more such projects already under way.

In the Forrester survey, which largely included vice presidents, directors or managers of architecture for the enterprise, widely varying BPM success was reported.

Some 60 percent reported that their BPM efforts had had both successes and failures, or else no measurable benefits to date. Just 37 percent indicated that their BPM projects had resulted in clear, measurable benefits.

In an apparent contradiction of sorts, about 60 percent of responding IT architects said their BPM efforts met their project goals. Roughly 20 percent said their BPM initiatives exceeded their established goals.  

Among those citing benefits, the chief areas of improvement resulting from BPM initiatives were:

  • Increased productivity for process workers, cited by 24 percent;
  • Real-time visibility into key processes, 18 percent;
  • Flexibility to change processes quickly and easily, 15 percent;
  • Ability to model business processes, 13 percent;
  • Consistent process execution across units, 12 percent;
  • Process optimization, 12 percent.  

Responding companies ranged from those with sales of less than $100 million to more than $5 billion. Among industry sectors, manufacturing was the most common, with 27 percent of the total, followed by financial services, 19 percent; professional services, 15 percent; and retail and wholesale, 9 percent.

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.

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