The Collapse of Complex Business (Process) Models

There is a lot of buzz around what is coming in business process management (BPM), a lot of it seems to stem from the social technologies that are starting to gain a foothold in business, and the desire to understand how they will effect BPM. I actually think that issues with the current state of the art in BPM go deeper – it is just that the emergence of social technologies is bringing them to the forefront, and giving people a common understanding to discuss these changes. I think the real problem is that BPM is becoming too complex and is on its way to becoming even more complex – people are even asking whether BPM is becoming the next programming paradigm, or whether it will be used as a basis to replace all applications in the enterprise.

The are reasons for the complexity, mainly as an attempt to make BPM applicable to more types of business processes. Examples of the increasing complexity are that BPMN has become more complex as a modeling language, vendors are adding rules, complex event processing and process simulators (just take a look at Jim Sinur’s list of the Top Ten BPM Technologies – all valuable stuff, but adding complexity). It seems to me that BPM as a technologyhas moved away from the  business side, and is going deeper into the technology side. I think that this growing complexity is what will eventually stop BPM from growing (Clay Shirky has a great post on why complexity destroys – The Collapse of Complex Business Models) – though I wouldn’t go so far as to claim the complexity will cause BPM to implode, it will just stop its growth.

That is why I am happy that the WfMC positioned Adaptive Case Management (ACM) as separate from BPM – trying to extend the BPMS umbrella to handle unstructured, unpredictabel human processes is a mistake. The two process types are very different, though complementary. They require a different understanding of the world, different tools and a different focus. Just like in Clay’s article the AT&T folks just couldn’t understand the messy world of web hosting, I think many BPMS vendors will find themselves unable to reconcile themselves with the messy world of ACM.


4 Responses to “The Collapse of Complex Business (Process) Models”

  1. Tweets that mention The Collapse of Complex Business (Process) Models | ActionBase Blog - Thoughts on Collaboration Process Management Unstructured Compliance and Audit -- Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ActionBase. ActionBase said: The Collapse of Complex Business (Process) Models – […]

  2. Process for the Enterprise » Blog Archive » Complex Business Models (or Processes?) Says:

    […] Ukelson of ActionBase once again writes an intriguing post on complex business processes, referencing a Clay Shirky article on the collapse of complex business […]

  3. ‘Warning! BPM is not accurate. Switch on your brain!’ « Welcome to the Real (IT) World! Says:

    […] ‘The Collapse of Complex Business Models’, also referenced in a post of similar name by Jacob Ukelson.  Please read them if you have the time, but I will try to present and discuss the viewpoints […]

  4. BPM Quotes of the week « Adam Deane Says:

    […] Complex Business Models – Jacob Ukelson I think the real problem is that BPM is becoming too complex and is on its […]

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