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The Year of…Broken Promises?

A few weeks ago ebizQ’s BPM Forum asked a question I’ve heard many times in the past few months: will 2010 be the year of BPM?

It got me thinking not just because we tend to quickly put labels on time periods (The Year of Cloud Computing, The Year of Data Governance, The Year of Anything and Everything). What struck me was that by labeling 2010 “the year of BPM,” we were ignoring the possibility that next year may be the year of BPM, or 2012, or 2013 – in fact, shouldn’t we aim to have EVERY year be the year of BPM?

From a tactical view, I agree with the point the question is making: we’ve seen steady growth in
demand in 2010, as well as greater adoption within current customers looking to further streamline and improve business processes. BPM can be pervasive once it enters an organization, as specific business units use BPM technology to achieve greater efficiencies; it becomes easier to organically grow use within that company.

However, as with any hype-cycle, making early predictions is dangerous and often incorrect. One barrier we see with more regularity that can negatively impact BPM growth in 2010 and beyond is the continuing disconnect between IT, CIOs and the business. We’ve seen too many IT departments poke their noses too far into the business side’s processes, resulting in a slowdown – and sometimes a showdown – in BPM adoption. BPM implementation doesn’t have to be so complex; growth will be determined by the continued embrace of flexible solutions that fit the needs of business users.

This isn’t to say that IT should serve merely as a support organization. What we need to ensure is that during the decision-making process, business people are the ones making the decisions.

Organizations looking for BPM solutions need to evaluate the potential effects for the business side along with effects on the IT infrastructure, taking a holistic approach to identifying opportunities for revenue growth and savings, along with the impact and functionality of the technology itself.

In many organizations, IT runs the show and business users are lucky to get an invite into the discussion. They have little recourse in the decisions being made that will end up impacting their every day processes and the way they perform their jobs. Ideally, IT should evaluate the technology and identify potential risks, empowering business users to more closely weigh costs and benefits.

This may sound simple, but it’s not how most technology decisions are currently made. Without a better balance between business users and IT, the Year of BPM will be just like every other lofty “Year of” prediction – a Year of Broken Promises.

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