Letter from the Managing Editor:



The Early Years: 2003-2007

We launched BPTrends in 2003, just as a number of process software modeling tools were introduced. In the early years, we had lots of articles and discussions about the nature of the new process tools, about standards for the tools, and about the evolution of the tool market. To assist our readers in understanding the difference among the many tools on the market, we published reports that compared the various tools. We argued about whether they should be called BPM tools or BPMS software tools, to keep the distinction between the general approach to process change (BPM) independent of the tools (BPMS). Some argued that good BPMS products ought to incorporate Pi Calculus, and others argued that the same goals could be achieved without this particular technology. In addition, there were arguments as older groups like the workflow people argued about their role in the new BPM market. Eventually, the Object Management Group (OMG) acquired the new BPMN standards group and settled down to provide a variety of standards for the process world.

In hindsight, it was a tempest in a teapot—the kind of battle that always happens in a new market when new vendors and standards groups compete for space. It took awhile for the dust to settle, for consolidation to eliminate some of the vendors and for the market to shift to focus on results rather than technologies. For awhile, BPTrends seemed like a battle ground for warring armies, but eventually a broad agreement was reached.

The Middle Years: 2007-2015

From 2007 to 2015 the tool vendors settled into the background, and the process market focused on organizational issues. The Association for Business Process Management Professionals (the ABPMP) and some others sought to define some professional standards and to offer certification. Other groups, both professional and commercial, tried to do the same. In addition, groups like the Supply Chain Council promoted the SCOR Framework and the TeleManagement Forum argued for the advantage of their eTOM business process framework. Other industry groups launched efforts to create industry frameworks to speed process architecture developments. For awhile it seemed that readers were focused entirely on creating business process architectures and a hundred options flowered. Eventually, however, all this seemed to settle down and become less significant.

The Recent Years: 2016-to the Present

If the early years were focused on BPMS software tools and technologies, and the middle years were focused on various organizational and certification issues, the recent years have focused on what, to some, might seem to be a move away from process. In reality, in any business area, people seem to use a new term, like Business Process Management, for awhile, and then tire of it. New consultants come along and say: “Well you’ve been using BPM, but that has its limitations. Now the new best thing is XYZ.”

The Business Architecture people, operating under the aegis of the OMG, decided that process referred to what you could do with BPMN, and, as they wanted to introduce a more dynamic approach to process modeling—Case Management Model Notation or CMMN—they proceeded to define processes narrowly and focused instead on “value streams” and “case management.” This created enough confusion but they also shifted away from analyzing process architectures and began to focus on “capability architectures.” All that led to lots of articles and discussions for awhile, but that’s now subsided a bit and the new, new focus is on digital transformations.

Originally, I think most people who used “transformation” meant to suggest major changes in how organizations did business. But it’s already been so overused that now its become another synonym for process. What’s probably more important is the emphasis on “digital transformation.” There has always been a certain tension between a focus on process—the overall manner in which an organization carries out its day-to-day work—and software automation—the use of various computer-based technologies to improve business processes. In the last decade, driven by widespread customer adoption of computer technologies for communication and the growing availability of huge data stores that can drive newer types of artificial intelligence, there has been a major shift toward automation. Any major organization that doesn’t understand just how the Internet and the Web fit into their marketing, sales, operations and delivery strategies is in trouble. The older dominant companies and the old ways of doing things are rapidly disappearing. We live in an era dominated by Amazon, Google, Facebook, Uber, Netflix and Wiki-whatever. These companies demonstrate how the use of new digital technologies can transform the way we do business. If you aren’t one of these newer companies, you are playing catch-up—trying to figure out how to transform your business model before Jeff Bozos decides to do it for you.

The pace of change is much greater than it was in 2003 when BPTrends launched our first publication. In retrospect, our approach to process change in 2003 was leisurely and organizations seemed to have the time for year long improvement projects. No one seems to have that kind of time today, so perhaps a new term—digital transformation—makes sense.

In spite of growing, rapid change, some perennial issues remain. There is always more change needed than we can afford, and something needs to be done first. We need analytical tools to determine what changes will give us the biggest return on our investments. Organizations are still systems—people and goals and computers and customers are all still linked together in a network and we need new tools and new thinking to approach complex problems with integrated solutions. Ultimately, things still get done because people work together accomplishing tasks that, themselves, work together as a process. We still need tools and models to understand how things work together. In other words, there is still a need for people to understand and discuss processes—whatever the currently hot term may be – and we at www.bptrends.com remain committed to providing a forum for that discussion and hopefully, for inspiration.

Paul Harmon
Executive Editor


Essentials of Business Architecture: Measuring Performance Part 1

Having covered a variety of topics relating to business architecture, Roger Burlton turns his attention to the question of how we can measure what performance we have defined. In Part 1 of a two-part series, he provides a list of key indicators and how to apply them. Part 2 of Measuring Performance will be published in the October Update.

Essentials of Business Architecture: Measuring Performance Part 2

In Part 1 of this two-part series, Roger provided a list of key performance indicators and how to apply them. In Part 2, he elaborates on the structure of measurement and what you should consider to achieve an accurate and useful measure of your processes.

Practical Process: Process architecture vs the organization chart: no contest

Roger Tregear asserts that the process architecture and the organization chart are different and unrelated. One does not replace the other. They are not in competition. They are alternate views of the organization, and we need both. Read his well-reasoned argument explaining what these differences are and why.


The Harmon on BPM: Defining Problems for Critical Processes

In his December Column, Paul cited two key tools that agile process developers needed to know. One is the Stakeholder Diagram which he discussed in that Column. The other is the Scope Diagram, a tool that refines our understanding of a process and identifies problems that we might want to alter or improve. In this Column, Paul focuses on the Scope Diagram.


Business Capabilities: Hype or Panacea

In this Article, Ravi Mehra, a business architect at Capstera, defines business capabilities and describes key use cases of business architecture and capability modeling.


Business Rules Solutions: Concept Models vs. Data Models

Ron Ross defines what a concept model is, and suggests that to appreciate the need for a concept model, you must appreciate that business communication is often replete with ambiguity. “If you’ve never been burned by miscommunication, then you’ll never really appreciate the need for a concept model.” But, as Ron says, of course we’ve all been victimized in that respect. Read his advice on how to avoid ambiguity that could lead to miscommunication.

Business Rules Solutions: Business Agility vs. Organizational Agility

Ron Ross argues that if you want to pursue true business agility your thinking must be grounded in management imperatives. Read his Column to learn what business agility means in the context of The Business Agility Manifesto.


Harmon on BPM: Toward an Agile BPM Methodology

Paul predicts that every company is going to be engaged in constant redesign and transformation within the next few years. He suggests that business change practitioners need an agile methodology to accommodate the ongoing need for change.


Process Improvement: When Clients Act like Jerks

Alan Ramias takes on an issue that BPM practitioners frequently encounter—how to handle bad behaving .clients. After a long career as a performance consultant, Alan has collected a virtual anthology of how to handle misbehaving clients and bosses, and he shares them here.

7 Steps to Process Improvement Success

Ivan Seselj, CEO of Promapp Solutions, provides 7 steps that he believes are critical to the success of process improvement efforts in any organization.


Process Frameworks: Faster Process Automation Without Sacrificing Stability

Holly Lyke-Ho-Gland takes on the subject of robotic process automation (RPA) which, she contends, has moved from efforts to improve customer satisfaction and productivity through automation, into high-value and high-risk areas like finance and HR. She concludes that RPA is quickly becoming a staple of the process management toolbox.


Harmon on BPM: Industry Studies

While technology trend studies are useful, Paul thinks today’s most interesting trend is “Industry Studies.” He observes that a growing number of reports are being written that describe how companies within a given industry are likely to change. Because these studies are focused on specific industries, they are especially useful to the executives within those specific industries. Read his Column for details.

Calendar of Events


Business Process Management Conference Europe, London, October 22-25, 2018

Building Business Capabilities, San Antonio, Texas, November 5-9, 2018

Education and Training

  • Professional Certificate Program
  • Process Architecture
    • Qualisoft, Developing a Process Centric Architecture, November 20-23, 2018, Oslo, Norway

View Complete Calendar