A fool with a tool is still a fool

Rodeo ClownHow do you evaluate a BPM product ? There’s lots of various critera to choose from in an attempt to assess just how good the vendor and his amazing tool is. For instance, where is it placed in the Magic Quadrant ?  After all, the hard work in gathering requirements and scoring has been done for you, you might as well stick a pin into the little square and pick one based on that report….

Marks out of ten ?

Scoring criteria is critical in choosing the right one for your business:

  • Product direction
  • Architecture and integration
  • Workflow capabilities, case management functionality
  • Simulation
  • BPMN standards
  • Modeling environment
  • KPI analysis and reporting
  • User experience
  • Colorful packaging

Ok, the last one is a joke. But you might as well score it for all the good the rest will do you. Why ? Because you’ve missed out the most important criteria of all. Your capability.

Maturity, maturity, maturity

As always, the process maturity of the organization, its capabilities and its understanding of BPM is never taken into account, it’s always seen as an IT driven initiative. All the time I get questions about ROI. Give me numbers people ask. Give me strength I reply. Vendors love this and play on ignorance, you’ll be sold the Ferrari when all you wanted was a Mini. Ah, but the Ferrari is future-proofed, it’ll go faster, has lots of gears and shinier wheels. Shame that you’ll run out of petrol before you reach the local shop for the pint of milk then.

Use a framework

Always consider just how much of a process culture you have within your organization before you invite sharks to the table. You really have no excuse not to measure your business capabilities and understanding of BPM. There are a number of frameworks out there that you can loosely benchmark where you are.

  • If all your processes are written on PowerPoint slides do you really think you’re ready for automated workflow and simulation ?
  • If your business analysts are entrenched in the business and have only business knowledge are they capable enough of understanding how to configure a BPMS and its rules engine without initiating an IT project ?

Shift all your criteria down by one and add Maturity as your highest priority. Don’t confuse ambition with understanding.

But go ahead, ignore this advice, evaluate the vendor, pick your tool, watch it fail and wonder why when all the numbers stacked up on the business case…..because a fool with a tool is still a fool.


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Categories: BPM, Information Technology, Process Management

Author:Theo Priestley

"I had more creative ideas from Theo in 6 months than I have had in 6 years from most people." Theo Priestley is one of the most recognised independent technology industry influencers and evangelists, ranking in the Top 100 thought leaders across Virtual/ Augmented Reality, FinTech, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Internet of Things and future trends. Theo has written insights for Forbes, Wired, The European Magazine, Venturebeat to name a few, and has been interviewed for many online publications including the BBC on his thoughts on technology and the future. A regular paid keynote speaker and panelist at conferences and events, Theo is engaged for his forthright views and isn't afraid to challenge conventional thinking and the marketing hype surrounding the industry when presenting, never pulling punches to get the message across on how technology can be applied to improve business and the customer experience. He has also successfully organised and run TEDx and Ignite events. Highly active across social networks, he sits in the Top 1% for social media engagement on Kred and Klout and is constantly sharing articles and his analysis that he feels his audience would be interested in. Theo is also active in the startup community, mentoring within UK and US accelerators and sits on a number of advisory boards. Former VP and Chief Technology Evangelist at a Top 25 European enterprise software company with a career spanning both innovation strategy and delivery of software and business change in Financial Services, and as an independent technology industry analyst. Follow Theo on Twitter @tprstly or connect here directly for constant insights on tech and marketing trends. • Top 1% Influencer on Kred (915) • Top 1% Influencer on Klout (70+) • 12,000+ Followers on LinkedIn • 13,000+ Followers on Twitter • Recognised Top Influencer in AI, Virtual/ Augmented Reality, Fintech, IOT and Wearable Tech, Big Data and Analytics.

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3 Comments on “A fool with a tool is still a fool”

  1. January 25, 2013 at 7:00 am #

    Theo, first off, clowns scare me, so, Yikes!

    Loved the article. You know I support the use of frameworks, and I can’t tell you how much infrequently the last point is considered in making decisions about tools (or, in the generic sense, anything) within organizations.

    Many times organizations, including mine in all honesty, feel they are more mature or have a greater capacity (or readiness) to implement a tool, or, they feel they’ll have no problem growing into it. This superiority complex leads to a lot of false starts and abandoned efforts.

    There is a quality tool called a Criteria Testing Matrix that can be used to help organizations make decisions based on objective criteria. It allows for discussion of the object criteria that will impact the decision (ability to implement, ability to use to full potential, brightness of packaging, etc.), then allows those involved in the discussion to each rate how they feel each solution will impact each criteria.

    The matrix then scores each option and tells the group what their highest priority options look like. More discussion can then ensue. Interestingly, too, is this tool will silence a “loud” voice in the room. It is painfully obvious when someone has an agenda when using this process and tool.

    The organization can still make a horrible solution, but, at least they are aware they are making a horrible solution. Subjectivity is present in all carbon-based life forms, and you as my high school coach used to say… “you can’t coach stupid.”

    Here is a link to the tool on our Website if you are interested, I’m sure it is on Wikipedia, too.


  2. January 25, 2013 at 7:56 am #

    Don’t forget ** training **.Since every industry can use a little BPM, every type of background shows up around here. I didn’t realize how important it is to educate folks, just talk about how to convert a paper-based process to an automatic process…and then listen, listen, listen.

  3. Reality Check
    February 28, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

    “Always consider just how much of a process culture you have within your organization before you invite sharks to the table”

    Excellent point. Will the BPM solution actually make things better and easier for you employees or is just another system they’ll never use?

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