We all know that in the real world, initiatives, capabilities and technologies don’t get built in isolation: these things bump up against each other, influence each other, overlap, and sometimes even set traps for each other. (This is why one of our research principles is “it’s a world of ‘and’, not ‘or’“).
The world of BPM initiatives is no different, and the BPM Conference Portugal—held a few days ago in Lisbon and chaired by the dynamic Alberto Manuel—was a place where a big picture really started to come together. I came away from the event buzzing with ideas, and that doesn’t happen often!
On paper, the agenda for the conference was set up as being about the role for BPM in a world being shaped by SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud); but for me at least, there was another dimension to it interwoven with these things. Specifically, how BPM discipline needs to interweave with other change and transformation capabilities and initiatives in order to enable agile organisations that can cope with wave after wave of business and technology change.
Two particular pieces stood out for me—both of them really logically adjacent to BPM and both very well articulated.
Chris Potts kicked things off by talking about the value of Enterprise Architecture in guiding investment strategies in a modern digitally-driven era. What I loved about Chris’ talk was how he took the ideas of ‘outside in’ design and customer journey mapping and showed how they affect EA discipline—and along the way how all this shapes (or should shape) the context for BPM work.
Chris was followed by Thierry de Baillon, who contrasted three different commonly-explored perspectives on work: a top-down analytical view, which often yields a rather mechanistic set of models; the employee view, which is often characterised by complexity and uncertainty; and the customer view, which is the domain of service design. Reconciling and integrating these views is crucial, and it can’t be done through a simplistic implementation of process automation. It has to recognise that work happens in flows, not in paths; and that work is often iterative and cumulative, not simplistically linear.
A personal highlight was to share a stage with Chris, Thierry, Sandy Kemsley and others on a panel led by Theo Priestley, talking about (among other things) why BPM projects fail. Panels can often be really anodyne and sometimes downright dull—but I think in this case we managed to weave some controversial and thought-provoking points of view into the standard fare.
Later in the day I got to give a version of my Digital Enterprise talk, where I was lucky to be able to refer back to many great points raised in the morning.
I really enjoyed the way this conference pulled complementary perspectives together to help paint a picture of changing enterprise dynamics, and provide some context for the modern environments that BPM must operate within. I’m hoping that the conference continues to thrive—it deserves to.