BPM and ERP: Why Fight a Battle?

Why fight a battle? The only casualty is the customer’s confidence…

Common logic tells us this is wrong.


ERP Change Impact - Percentage Business Decline Summary

It is quite common hearing business users complain about the ERP deployment (always in rigid and single approaches).

Normally, all user demands are articulated in the same way: The tools they are furnished with are only good for the transactional side, not to support their work activity. Read more about this in the post from Adam Deane.

But their claims go unanswered, why?  There are a myriad of reasons, so many that it is really hard to summarize them. On top, those reasons build a negative feedback cycle.
But, if I have to provide one reason, it is that we are lazy. We prefer to solve easy problems. In the end, there always will be someone unsatisfied…

Hobbit’s Syndrome. What was a treasure turns into a prison.


Newton’s Third Law. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Organizations are made of people, and people’s first reaction to a change is opposition. And, when it is imposed the reaction tends to be an opposition whose intensity is in relation to the strength of the imposition.

How many times have we heard something like this is a meeting? (answering to a customer request):



  • No, I know it is not how you work but it is this or nothing. You know, we support so many countries, business models, and technologies that we must go for the lowest common denominator. (Where did differentiation go?)
  • No, and it isn’t even considered in the planning. Unfortunately, we’ve got such a maintenance overload with the last changes. You have to go with that. (How to reduce maintenance cost will be another blog entry)
  • You should thoroughly define it. Bear in mind changing it will take no less than 6 months, at the best. So, our recommendation is that you gather more requirements since it will help use our time more efficiently.
And Newton’s Wall appears.

A context is described in another post by Adam Deane.

To thrive in Business, one way or another, enterprises must differentiate themselves (Drucker). Embedding or incorporating a BPM onto ERP provides the tool to solve situations which with an ERP-centric approach are (almost) not feasible to solve because of the high resource consumption (people and time):

  • Anticipating or rapidly absorbing market changes.
  • Optimizing non-automatic tasks.
  • Easy adoption and deployment of regulatory needs or operational models either because of geography, product portfolio or business models diversity.
  • Advanced detection and activation of escalation patterns.
  • Evaluation & decision without delays.

The answer (BPM plus ERP) is also not easy to realize, but it is available and allows to create a hybrid approach – nature has always provided stronger solutions when using this approach: if not for this hybrid approach humanity would starve-.

The ERP vendors strive to be able to cope with all battle-fronts. But this strategy has its fate already. You will agree if you have read Sun-Tzu or Archer Jones, or if you’ve ever played Chess or GO. It is close to impossible to battle simultaneously in multiple and distinct frontlines. Maybe this is one of the reasons why a well-know ERP editor has dropped the BPM concept from its stack. And, it is a clever move for them. And for other ERP editors who still maintain to offer BPM as well, it is becoming more and more a concept instead of a reality.

Multiples studies, even those promoted by the big ERP editors, confirm that only 20% of the tasks can be automatized. And, unfortunately those 20% do not represent the 80% of the efforts. The human effort is still there and is even growing.

Instead of data errors, now we get much more dangerous but hard to notice situations related with what really matters: the value chain of the business whose glue is the process (the chain of tasks) which now goes uncontrolled, unsupported and undervalued. Read also this post from Adam Deane.


Adding a real BPM product will help getting close to users and save resources.

This is of paramount relevance since the mistakes are embedded within the well-known IT’s Productivity Paradox.
This is another reason for the diminishing consideration of the IT area as strategic for the enterprise. Why do you think we use soap letters? Why should IT be strategic?  How can IT become strategic again?

More on this subject to come…


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By Juan Vazquez @ Ultimus Inc. | April 2, 2012

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