Woe unto he who uses the term ‘management’ when they really mean ‘automating’.
Business process management means many things to many people. Just take the words ‘process’ and ‘management’ alone – different people see these quite differently according to their perspective (click the BPM hat graphic, below, for more info). For many BPM vendors and practitioners alike process management has come to mean process automation. Automation is a very important aspect of BPM but it doesn’t constitute Management. From a business perspective especially, Management implies good governance, meaning – each process is seen as an important asset and therefore owned, understood, correctly applied and improved continuously. The end goal of Management needs to be a defined benefit such as improved performance.
Attaining that benefit may involve automation, but not in all cases. If you look at the entirety of the activities that make up your business, the vast majority are performed by humans and not machines…and that’s not going to change in the foreseeable future. It is dismaying that so many of the automation-focused tools which purport to offer BPM offer little capability with respect to Management as I define it above. Lacking a holistic approach can easily result in the automation of processes which are suboptimal, poorly understood, inappropriately applied and can’t be continuously improved.
An earlier paper “What BPM Hat are you wearing?” explores the different process perspectives of four main stakeholder groups: End Users, IT, System providers and Risk/Compliance. Access the paper here. Each of these perspectives represents an important part of BPM–and the reason why these three letters create so much confusion and debate. You are much less likely to take the word Management in vain if you understand the many facets of great BPM.