Cyclical Business Process Management vs. Linear Project Management

When introducing new users to BPM as a methodology and BPMS as a technology, I find myself often stressing the importance to differentiate between project management and business process management in order to achieve successful process implementations.

There certainly seems to be a strong and positive correlation of having concluded a successful sales cycle, customer on-boarding and the resulting user optimism – reaching euphoric levels at times – of what that newly acquired “BPM Tool” is supposed to achieve. Both, a certain commercial hype and the users’ willingness to conquer the world, are necessary and welcomed, providing the required positive energy for the challenges ahead.

In my experience however, I observed that this energy, if not channeled adequately, can have disastrous effects.
Here is the challenge: Despite the fact that a BPM platform, the applied methodology, measuring and improving continuously the process – all point to an integral mid-to-long-term strategy a company will have to engage in, the user (especially – but not limited to – “first timers”) almost always and instinctively will try to squeeze a long wish list of solutions to current problems and desired goals into a BPM implementation project, which always will be linear and comparatively short lived.
A thing to keep in mind – for each project, also in the case of BPM implementations, the triple restriction applies: scope, time and resources within a rigid framework of desired quality.

For a continued BPM success, successful BPM projects have to be achieved continuously.

Each of these projects has a limited budget and time frame (remember that even a time and material based budget has an upper limit and becomes fixed in the long run). So, “priorizations” of scopes and goals are absolutely crucial (and there are many methods of doing that), making sure that everybody involved understands that a current exclusion of a requirement doesn’t mean that it will be perpetually ignored – it just maybe a goal for one of the next BPM implementation projects. In fact, managing an accumulative inventory (through process knowledge workers) of implemented and still pending business process requirements is a very effective way to promote end-user driven process innovations. At the same time it helps to keep the implementation project in balance.

It has been helpful to visualize that cyclical BPM vs. linear PM behavior to the process owners and BPM project participants in a macro-to-micro scale:


Figure 1: Macro scale – continued corporate goals



Figure 2: Intermediate scale: continued goals on a (inter) departmental and process level


Figure 3: Micro scale: continued goals with the processes and process parts (also including the form level)


Figure 4: Linear BPM project life line (simplified)

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By Kay Winkler @ NSI Soluciones | March 6, 2013

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