I’ve been working in the arena of BPM for a while. Coming from a business application background, I always had an undeniable interest in applying (technical) solutions in real life – business – situations. Although I love technical innovation and the ongoing birth of never-expected new features, I have always been taught that solutions are not the goal, but a means. And I still do agree with it!
Years ago I used to present and position new application technology solutions in the marketing and sales business. It was such a pleasure to show these neat and almost unbelievable (new) features you were waiting for, or you never imagined before, that I almost forgot the relevance to the audience and their – business – needs. Especially technical solutions tend to let you forget the real means, and focus on the solution itself and the great features it holds. It is a lot easier to open the box and show how uniquely fantastic your solutions and features are than to ask the customer what he really wants, understand his business situation and ask how your solutions really can fulfill the customer’s needs, even more with regard to existing solutions and the architecture in place. So, my question, sometimes hard to answer, was: how do I really create customer value?
That is where middleware architecture became more interesting to me, bringing together different solutions in one picture and showing their interrelationships. It opened my eyes for business architecture and ‘the meaning of (business) life’. It made me realize that there really is a business need and that this is absolutely relevant. Technical application solutions only become relevant once there is a business need. But still it doesn’t necessarily answer the question who has the business need and how this need relates to possible other needs (validating the need). Discussions still tended to end up into technical discussions.
There had to be more. Where technical and business applications tend to focus on relatively small business area’s and a limited amount of functions, the business process layer helps to see a bigger picture, the whole value chain, starting with the customer, uncovering the real business need. This is why I still love being in the BPM arena, because it makes solutions really relevant. Not only on a technical level, not only on a business application level, but on a business process level. Even BPM is just a means, not a goal in itself. But it is a very strong means. BPM is a great means to communicate with your customer and to mutually understand his business.
BPM focusses on process definitions and process management. BPM helps explicitly defining business processes in a uniform way, relatively easy and understandable, focussing on the value chain, rather than on applications or departments. Still, BPM is a start for more, a fantastic basis for business optimization and improvement. Since it is not my plan to talk about BPMS or technology, I will be talking about Lean, the bigger picture.
Lean is my latest passion. My next blog will cover the interrelationship between BPM and Lean and how Lean can add even more value to the customer.