The Use of BPMS

Our mini-quiz this month focused on how people were using BPMS applications.   We only got ten responses, so we can hardly generalize.  More to the point, our respondents spread out across all four options we proposed.  Some were using applications developed by IT that didn't do anything for the business manager.  Others were using applications that business people helped develop that provided considerable data and even allowed managers to update the application.  In essence, BPMS is being used in all the ways one might imagine, and there is no single string trend that emerged, even from our small sample.

There's nothing wrong with the result we got, but it certainly makes one think, in spite of all the BPMS hype over the last decade, that companies are still trying out how to use this new technology.

Adding to the impression that BPMS is a work in progress is the current emphasis by vendors and technology promoters, like Gartner and Forester, on Case Management (or Adaptive Case Management, iBPMS, or Dynamic Processes).  In essence, it's now suggested that one reason we aren't using BPMS is that the current generation of tools focused on procedural processes — the kind of stuff modeled by BPMN — and that the real need is for tools and methods that let us model dynamic processes — presses that change even as they are being executed.

I'm very sympathetic to the approach incorporated in Case Management — although my experience suggests that it is cutting edge stuff, and does not, in fact, represent the types of processes that most companies are trying to deal with.  Put is another way, most companies are still trying to map out their major processes, and haven't reached the point at which they need advanced process modeling techniques.  That said,  some companies are dealing with dynamic processes and the various Case Management techniques  represent a more flexible way of thinking about the problems we face as we try to analyze complex new processes.

I plan on speaking on this topic during my talk at the upcoming BBC Conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, this coming week.  Hopefully I'll see some of you there and we can talk about all this.