When not to use a BPMS

A Business Process Management Suite (BPMS) is a great tool for creating software for the management of routine business processes. One question that arises quite frequently is what processes should be selected for a BPM initiative. I think some of the uncertainty is caused by the fact that you can look at almost anything done in business from a process perspective – and so could be a candidate for a BPM initiative. I have even seen forum question about whether BPM is the next generation of general purpose application development tools (just for the record – it isn’t).

Well, I don’t know the answer to what processes should be selected for a BPM initiative, but I can give some guidance into types of processes that should NOT be considered. Here is a checklist of some of the questions that can be used to rule out a process from being considered for a BPM initiative:

  1. Does the process have a lot of ad-hoc, unpredictable activity associated with it (i.e does it change each time it is executed)?
  2. Are there a lot of exceptions associated with process?
  3. Is the process a people process that is heavily dependent on the skill and knowledge of the participants –do they need to be in charge of the flow? Is negotiation and discussion between participants a major part of the process?
  4. Does the process require investigation and research?
  5. Is the process generating and gathering (for the most part) unstructured data and content (i.e. documents)?
  6. Does the process flow change based on the accumulated documents and content?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions – you probably should look to a different process for your BPM initiative – the process you choose would lend itself better to Human Process Management (also starting to be called Adaptive Case Management by the WfMC, or Dynamic Case Management by Forrester).


One Response to “When not to use a BPMS”

  1. Library clips :: Have we been doing Enterprise 2.0 in reverse : Socialising processes and Adaptive Case Management :: July :: 2010 Says:

    […] Keith Swenson has authored a book on ACM called "Mastering the unpredictable"..and what’s interesting is that it seems ACM is very similar to KM in that it talks about non-routine, unpredictable work…what we call knowledge work. Another way of looking at it is when not to use BPM. […]

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