Taking business process management to the next level

When we develop the content and agenda for a Gartner Summit, we begin by looking at who we expect the audience to be and the challenges they face. In the case of business process management (BPM), practitioners are struggling with ever more...

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When we develop the content and agenda for a Gartner Summit, we begin by looking at who we expect the audience to be and the challenges they face. In the case of business process management (BPM), practitioners are struggling with ever more issues — organisational culture, a lack of resources and expertise, and a lack of budget.

Although the term BPM has been around for many years, its novelty is fading somewhat in the face of newer trends; you can read more on this through the views of my colleague Elise Olding in her recent blog "Has BPM Lost Its Lustre?"

It's worth introducing the Gartner BPM maturity model at this point, because the challenges faced by BPM practitioners mean that many programmes struggle to mature from Level 2 to Level 3 and beyond, as described below.

The difficulties in breaking free of small-scale iterative improvements in business processes — to achieve a genuinely game-changing business transformation — also mean that many BPM professionals are struggling to show the value of BPM projects. Gartner research shows that BPM project duration is contracting, with more organisations than previously reported completing projects in less than six months. At the same time, BPM project costs remain at 2008 levels, with 70 per cent of projects being delivered for a total investment of less than $400,000.

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What trends can be exploited to demonstrate value and, ultimately, deliver business transformation rather than incremental improvements?

One extremely significant development we are seeing is the emergence of what Gartner refers to as "intelligent business operations" (IBO). Business managers and knowledge workers currently face a key challenge: they are being asked to make faster and better decisions, and to "do more with less," in an ever-changing business context; yet they cannot do so without improved visibility into their operations and environments.

To meet this challenge, leading organisations seek to make their business operations more intelligent — by integrating analytics into their processes and the applications that enable them. Gartner has identified this trend as a new usage scenario for a business process management suite (BPMS); this scenario is IBO. Early adopters are implementing IBO now; however, all organisations should factor intelligent BPMSs (iBPMSs) into their BPM planning horizon.

Gartner recently made the prediction that by 2016 70 per cent of the most profitable companies will manage their business processes using real-time predictive analytics or extreme collaboration; essentially, this is IBO. This is an important area, which Gartner says BPM practitioners should consider to take their programmes and projects to the next maturity level. By doing so, they'll demonstrate the value of BPM in helping the executive leadership achieve its goals for the organisation.

In this landscape, it's important that BPM leaders make the case for moving towards IBO. Possibly by identifying one core process on which to pilot IBO and show its potential, and by carrying out an assessment of the competition in their industry — to see if there are competitors who are already finding an advantage in the market by enabling IBO in their operations.

Gartner analysts and industry peers will examine the IBO trend and its risks and benefits, alongside end-user case studies and vendor sessions, at the Gartner Business Process Management Summit 2013,13-14 March in London. For more information, please visit europe.gartner.com/bpm.

Posted by John Dixon, managing vice president at Gartner, Inc.

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