Thursday, 28 June 2007

Book Review – The World Is Flat?

Bookmark and Share



The World Is Flat?: A Critical Analysis of New York Times Bestseller by Thomas Friedman

by Ronald Aronica
Edition: Paperback

Price: $16.47




"I did not have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one" goes the Mark Twain quote. Well unlike Friedman, Aronica took the time to deliver stronger more concrete messages in a more concise format. Aronica also took the time to do the research and look at the facts rather than just talk to his friends. If you have already bought the Friedman book but not read it, do yourself a favor, buy this and save yourself the time. If you have not bought Freidman, then you don't need to, this great little book will give you all that you need.

The book is well written, punchy and to the point. It contains great insights and provides a strong motivation to change what we are doing before we get run over by a steamroller!

Monday, 25 June 2007

Architecture or Folly?

Bookmark and Share

This week sees me down in Bangalore at the Architecture World 07 conference. The two concepts of BPM and Enterprise Architecture are to be very related, success in both owes a lot to maintain an important mantra "just enough!"

I always have fun speaking with groups of IT about Enterprise Architecture as invariably they do not mean Enterprise but IT when they use the term. So in my quest to get them thinking differently I thought I'd introduce them to the term folly.

I am sure many of you can recollect pictures or sights of buildings that seem to serve no purpose or remain unfinished. How about Howard Hughes plane, the Spruce Goose? I am sure that "architects" were employed on many of these projects.

So what is a folly?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a folly as: "A popular name for any costly structure considered to have shown folly in the builder,"

While Chambers' Dictionary says it is: "A great useless structure, or one left unfinished, having been begun without a reckoning of the cost."

Hmm... sounds a lot like the description of many Enterprise Architecture projects I have come across in the past few years.

On a (slightly) more serious note with the advent of Service Oriented Architecture, the word Architecture has once again been given prominence. In fact for some it can be fun to count just how many Architectures you need in IT – Model Driven Architecture, Service Oriented Architecture, Client Server Architecture... and so the list goes on.

With each new architecture fad comes more talk of why the business don't get it and why people in the business don't recognize the value of architecture.

Of course the answer to that question is to my mind very simple. The explanation can also be given using the very analogies that are used to try and explain architecture, namely the examples of buildings and aircraft.

Buildings are built to last for many years, in some cases they can last for thousands of years, these days some only tens of years. For aircraft they are built for at least 20 years of service and to be maintained for often much longer than that.

So in these cases some degree of architecture is justified, but even then sometimes we are really looking only at rigorous design. However in both cases any "overhead" in design is spread over many years of useful and hopefully profitable service.

Now, when we come to IT business people are being asked to constantly reequip, systems lasting it seems no more than two to five years. Small wonder then, that it can be challenging to persuade us of the value of Architecture. Perhaps then it would be easier to just explain that what is really meant is good design, you would like to build our systems using good design principles.

I think perhaps the French had the right idea with the concept of City Planning as being the base point for Enterprise Architecture. The idea that as with a town, you need to lay out "zones" for different activities and to make sure that the equivalent of the basic infrastructure is in place and that systems use appropriate interfaces. This is providing a longer lasting value and is using architecture at an appropriate level and then letting designers do the design. Saves on the overhead of architecting the design – which has always sounded like a bit of an overhead to me.

So it will be interesting to see and talk with the architects and designers down here in India and find out how they will be using architecture to help create agile, customer centric organizations that deliver greater value for the stakeholders in the business.

Friday, 22 June 2007

Professional Mind Maps with iMindMap

Bookmark and Share

Those that know me will know that I am a fan of Mind Maps. They will also know that just because I am a fan does not mean that I am any good at them!

For those less familiar with the technique, it was developed by a Brit named Tony Buzan and is a technique for capturing information in a diagram in order to make it easier to remember and to explain to others. ("The Mind Map Book" by Tony and Barry Buzan was published by BBC Books). Through the use of branches like a tree and good use of color and shape you can create some stunning memory aides.

Mind maps are in use all over the world and have been adapted for many purposes, particularly in the planning and presentation fields.

There have been several attempts (some very popular) at producing computer software to construct these maps. I have products from Mindjet, Mind Mapper, and Mind Genius. To be honest my results have been at best mixed and at worst useless. This is not a reflection on the products but as much as anything on my ability to create them.

Then recently a friend of mine, Phil Chambers, invited me to attend one of his mind mapping courses. It was immediately apparent what the problem was. The mind mapping software did not follow the real principles behind mind mapping. Just as with so many software packages the interface forced you to work in a certain way, and a way that actually meant not follow the rules!

It was then that I discovered a great new product iMindMap from Tony Buzan himself, it is a really great way of creating maps for yourself on your PC or Mac, I have been using the beta version on and off for a few months and have to say from a personal point of view it knocks the spots off of anything else I have seen. You can try it free for 30 days or you can purchase for less than £60 – including 3 years of free updates - that is what you call future proofing!

By the way if anyone is interested in learning about how to mind map then I would of course recommend Phil Chambers, who is a former world memory champion, an expert in the areas of mind mapping and accelerated learning and creating a better memory. During my course he made me rather sick, I gave him a gift of the Daniel Pink book "A whole New Mind" and in no time at all he had sent me back a mind map of the book, which with permission I reproduce here.

I have posted the larger version on my web site and you can access it by clicking here.

If you too would like to see just how professional looking mind maps should look then you can see more of Phil's work by clicking here but be warned, if you think the things we produce in software are good you might be in for a big a surprise.

As people who have attended my classes will testify I am fascinated by mind maps and there use in the process world, mainly because the holy grail ahs to be to find a way to express and share processes that people can readily understand. I don't mean through technical notations or clever words, I mean that people can just intuit.

Mind maps have a particular value in that they are now being taught to children at school as a means for them to revise for exams and to remember information. I have a belief that if this is what today's children are learning then it is a technique that tomorrows business leaders will be using, therefore the sooner we work out how to use them effectively for process then the sooner we will all be on the same page.

Finally I think that iMindMap takes us one step closer to being able to realize that ambition.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Ethics in Business – Not in BPM

Bookmark and Share

Judging from some of the emails I have seen lately, I am not the only one who is really starting to question the position with regard to "ethics" in BPM. Hardly a day seems to go by at the moment with being able to read or hear about something that brings into question the ethics of business.

I don't even want to consider the issues surrounding BPMG (and who thinks they invented what!), but they are not alone. Only recently I was asked by a conference organizer to help them put together a program for an event. I explained that this was how I earned my living, but that as part of a deal including speaking at the event then I would of course be happy to help. They assured me that this would be the case and the financial side would not be a problem. Now as the program finalizes and they have everything they need, surprise surprise! They don't have the budget to cover the expenses. This in turn of course means that I won't travel. So be aware, trust in the conference space is not there either.

While on the subject of conferences, it is perhaps interesting to note that very few organizers are getting repeat visits or additional delegates from companies at repeat events. Yet despite this lack of repeat business they don't think to question whether they are really focused on successful customer outcomes – do they really care enough about the experience of delegates at the event?

IQPC, by way of example, have a very specific model and many of you will have noticed that they rarely have industry experts or guru's at their events. The reason is very simple, their business model is to a) sell as much sponsorship as possible b) sell the opportunity to provide workshops to vendors and consultants c) sell the opportunity of chairing the event and d) charge the delegates to attend. Then when they can see the revenue they then ask as many end users to speak as they can (no costs attached to that) usually against a title and bullet points that the organizer puts together.

I must add here in defense of IQPC South Africa, that this does not appear to have been the case with them, they do appear to have approached things differently and when last I heard as a result they have seen their own BPM event grow each year for the past three years.

The business model is of course very profitable, except when delegates stop returning and start talking about the lack of professionalism around the conference. There will always be a few good sessions and IQPC rely on this to keep them ahead of the chasing pack. But is interesting that in the BPM space their US and UK conferences appear to be failing to generate bigger audiences and it is getting harder to interest the sponsors. All of which suggests that perhaps yesterday's business model is still being applied to today's problems. As we all know this is a sure way of causing a business to fail.

I should point out that that IQPC are not alone in this respect and that conference organizers who focus on the delegate experience first are in the minority.

Then we come to the vendors! Well marketing is of course key to them, but some of the things that are being said are just untrue. Only yesterday I read a statement in a press release from a vendor claiming that they were the "only pure play BPM vendor" in a particular geographical market, which is simply false, in the market they are talking about there are at least two locally well known players in the space. How are users supposed to work out who they can trust if people stretch the truth to such limits, or beyond.

These examples do not of course apply to every vendor or conference organizer, but sadly the number it does apply to is too big. Don't get me wrong I am not talking about a bit of spin on messaging, which we all know is an everyday part of our lives. I am talking about those who blatantly seem to set out to mislead people.

In reality this apparent lack of ethics may explain the relatively slow revenue growth in the BPM sector, as buyers if we don't know who to trust we trust no one and keep our money in our wallets!

Thursday, 14 June 2007

New Video Resources – Why BPM is Critical

Bookmark and Share

As ever the challenge in getting management buy-in for BPM is very often dependent on being able to get your message across. It seems that people are more and more looking to add richer content through the use of video. (Indeed I hope to be able to share some of my own with you very soon)

Two weeks ago I was sent a new video by Peter Fingar "Shift Happens", it discusses and details the shifts that are occurring in the economy and how the world is changing, you can view it by clicking here, then this morning I got sent a new adaptation of Peter's video by Jon Pyke of the Process Factory, you can see Jon's version by clicking here.

Both videos are based on an original by Karl Fisch that was looking at education, but as you can see from the work of Peter, the parallel with the need for BPM is too great to be ignored.

I thank Peter and Jon for making these resources available, I hope that you will agree that they are very thought provoking and will help some people in persuading that the time for BPM is now! Of course there will still be others who choose to put it all down as nothing more than a stunt, but alas many of those organizations may not be in business long enough for us to worry about them!

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Passage to India

Bookmark and Share

As I prepare for my next trip to India in a couple of weeks time, I thought it might be a good time to republish an article I wrote after my first trip to Bangalore in 2005, it is going to be fascinating to see what has changed and how attitudes may have altered. It is also going to be interesting to see how Indian companies will continue to succeed at a time when I hear they are cutting back on their training and people investments – will I find them on the start of a slippery slope?, but for now let's just remember the first time I was there and my experiences of Wipro.

How one Indian IT company is looking to change for the future

Following his recent visit to Bangalore in India, in this article Mark McGregor shares with us some of the insights gained into the issue of where next for the Indian IT Industry. Perhaps more importantly he also finds that the issues of BPM are generating much interest and hears that the giants in India may be about to start seriously moving up the consulting food chain and leveraging the lack of BPM Professionals available in the market to gain a toe hold in more strategic consulting projects.

Last week I was fortunate enough to be able to make my first visit to India. After being involved in and around the fringes of IT for so many years and more latterly writing about and commentating on the risks and benefits associated with outsourcing to Asia, I guess it could be seen as something of a pilgrimage to what appears now to have become the spiritual home of IT.

The first thing that strikes you as you land in Mumbai is just how crowded the city is, but also you know you are in for a different kind of experience when you hear English being spoken all around you - in fact no-one I came across at the airport from airline personnel through to bus and taxi drivers through to Porters and cleaners did not speak English and indeed ALL the signage was in English too. So, on to my destination of Bangalore - again English everywhere, but a curious mix of East and West. Alongside the modern shopping malls and office blocks, there are many apparently run down looking buildings, I say apparent, because when you step inside these buildings you find more shops in which you find everything you would expect in any other shop in the west – just as brightly lit and laid out to the same neat attractive standards as you would expect. The only difference was the level of service, a subject that we will come back to later in the article. The thing that lets Bangalore down, as any of the locals will tell you is the road infrastructure, despite the improvements underway the slowness of the work is something that infuriates the people there.

It was interesting to note that despite the amount of work sent down to India by Western companies from all over, there was a definite lack of western faces (even in the top hotels). My hosts tell me this is not unusual, in fact they go on to say that it is very rare that American companies doing business will actually travel there to meet with their suppliers, even when signing large contracts, the British on the other hand do tend to visit on the odd occasion at least. This lack of personal interaction is a shame, for at one level they are missing out on visiting a wonderful city with a curious and eclectic mix of old and new and east and west. On another level they are failing to understand some of the cultural and services differences in India, and as we shall see this may yet be there undoing.

The purpose of my visit was to deliver the first BPMG 5 Day professional training class in India. The class was delivered in a modern purpose built training centre for what I now know to be one of the most forward looking consulting firms in the world – Wipro Technologies.

This firm having seen all the buzz around BPM and recognizing the tremendous business opportunity afforded by BPM has decided to expand its capabilities in this area. This in itself is not unusual as many vendors and consulting firms are doing just the same. Such firms are preparing their strategies, gearing up their marketing and setting out to win business with varying degrees of aggressiveness and success. But, in India they have a different approach, one which must surely start to ring alarm bells in western IT and consulting firms very soon. Their approach is to set up a BPM centre of excellence and begin the task of training their consultants, although perhaps educating is a better term – they tell me that they have looked at the market and decided that simply training staff in BPM is a bit of a "me too" approach, especially when they look at the number of successful BPMS implementation projects they have already carried out. Instead they want to educate their staff and have them become professionally accredited. Yes, they of course realize that this provides them with a key differentiator in the market, but more than that they recognize that professionally trained staff will be better able to assist their clients in achieving some of the operational and organizational transformations that they seek to obtain via BPM. The market for staff in India and in Bangalore in particular is extremely competitive and by providing further education the companies sees that it can also increase motivation and reduce staff turnover.

(To give you an idea of what is at stake when it comes to staff turnover. When the company released its quarterly figures last week, it announced that in its BPO division it had recruited an additional 2,000 staff, while at the same time acknowledging that it had also lost 2,000 staff – so it is not hard to see the "size of the prize")

The BPM CoE at Wipro consists of a core team of seasoned professionals with expertise in process management and implementation technologies (such as EAI, BI, DW and BPMS). The team through alliances has particular expertise with tools such as Ultimus and Savvion. The CoE has set some aggressive targets for itself and aims at carving a niche for Wipro's BPM services – process consultancy, package implementation and customized development, in this promising BPM market place. All that was missing was the rounding out and expanding of their wider BPM expertise and hence the reason for being there.

The class itself was somewhat different to the usual teams we train. In a class of 15, all the participants had at least one degree and most had two! Several had an MBA as well. All had already been involved in implementation projects using one or more of the leading BPMS tools. They were there to a) get professionally qualified and b) to find out how they can help their clients better manage and implement change. They all felt that the implemented systems they had been involved with could have been better if taken as part of an overall BPM strategy.

I have to say that I have never come across a group of such intelligent and smart people so willing to learn and have their existing practices and belief challenged – and as anyone that knows me will testify, if you are going to try and come at from a pure systems perspective, I will challenge you! By the end of the week they tell me they had learned a lot and found the techniques and tools to be both easy to apply and powerful in use. But, they were not the only ones that learned from the experience. I too learned a great deal, both about the IT people and approaches in India and of the underlying culture that drives these people to success.

During the course of the week the company insisted that I join the General Manager responsible for the BPM CoE, Anurag Seth for lunch to learn more about how the company sees BPM. Anurag told me "that it was seen as both a natural progression for the company as it sought ways to increase the value they can deliver for their customers and as they moved toward higher margin consulting work." He went on to explain that "Education has always been an important part of the Wipro philosophy, right from the very staff. Wherever possible we want our staff to be the best in the business and that means ensuring that the training they receive is the best we can find for them." My hosts were extremely disappointed that I was not going to be able to meet with their Chairman, Azim Premji – this was on the basis that while we were on campus who was rather tied up with the AGM and Quarterly results.

Earlier on I mentioned that I would come back to the "service culture". I think that this service centric culture, based upon providing the customer with what they need and being attentive to ensuring that the work you do is centered on creating successful customer outcomes, will provide the backbone on which Indian companies like Wipro will build their BPM success. In the West we appear to have largely forgotten that this is what successful business is all about. If you focus on these then revenue will grow, customers will remain loyal, staff will be happy and motivated and costs will be controllable. These are indeed the goals and objectives you should set when measuring the overall success of a BPM project.

The culture issue though, does not all flow in favor of the Indian and other Asian companies though. As has been seen in Japan with the car industry, Asian companies do seem to have challenges around the issues of creativity. And I am sure that the people at Wipro won't mind me sharing the fact that this was their biggest hurdle during the course of the training.

Coming back to my meeting with Anurag, I was also interested to hear that the company also saw that the BPM CoE with its professionally trained Process Consultants was also likely to add value to the companies BPO operations, as the company sought to add value to what (despite its BPO nametag) has largely been functional outsourcing – payroll, recruitment and back office functions. At least in my opinion this too has to be a step in the right direction.

At the end of the week I caught up with Bhaskar Maddala, Manager of the BPM CoE and my host for the week and asked him how he came to select this particular program for his staff, his reply was that "In addition to the BPMG visibility, their principals have a world-wide reputation as experts in the field and are known for the quality of their delivery. Therefore for a company like Wipro, so focused on quality, it was common sense to go for the best. Having joined my team for the class last week I have to say that we were not disappointed. Indeed my team were all highly impressed with the value we got and felt it was way beyond what might have been expected. If "seeing is believing" then we can now see why you have the reputation you have - it is very well deserved." Kind words indeed, he went on to add "We here at Wipro look forward to now being able to expand the training efforts and working with you to see how we might offer the training to our clients as well as our staff. We firmly believe that by better understanding the full value that true BPM – that is understanding that they will not get the true "Value of Investment" if the implementation teams fail to scale beyond the software tools and get involved at the process analysis and design level - then our consultants can better help our clients in leveraging the benefits of BPM and the capabilities that Wipro brings to them."

For my part, I of course wish my new found friends at Wipro well (having conducted their training I have a personal stake in their success!) and look forward to seeing them again in Bangalore very soon. But perhaps more importantly, it will be interesting to see how Indian companies staffed by a people whose whole culture revolves around the twin concepts of successful customer outcomes and respecting human values, can potentially change the face of BPM and how we see it.

Note: This article first appeared in July 2005 on Mark McGregor's series of articles on

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Great Value Toolkit For Process Improvement Projects

Bookmark and Share

Quality Companion from Minitab

I wanted to tell you about a new piece of software I have been playing with and that has impressed me greatly. Those that know me will know that tools in the process space do not easily impress me!

If you have not already come across it yet, then I would advise you to take a look at Quality Companion 2 from Minitab Software. Minintab are most widely known for being the de facto standard for statistical analysis in Six Sigma. This new(ish) product has a more universal applicability and provides a whole host of features that make it very useful to anyone working in the BPM or Process Improvement arena.

But, before discussing the tool, it is worth mentioning just how low the cost of the product is. Depending on the number of licenses you need the price varies from £180.00 to £280 per user, a price that makes it easy to provide copies for all members of the team.

In terms of tools contained in the product I am only going to focus on the ones that might apply outside the Six Sigma arena.

On the organizational side of things the product comes with: Presentation Tools, Project Roadmaps, Project Charters and, Project Prioritization.

Then we move onto an amazing list of techniques/tools for the actual project work these include: Process mapping, Brainstorming, Cause & Effect, Balloting, SIPOC, Value Stream Map Comparisons, Stakeholder Analysis, Project Risk Assessment, Financial Analysis and Control Plans.

Quality Companion 2 also comes pre-packaged with a set of "coaches" to help guide you through the "how to" in using the various tools and techniques. However, in larger organizations will tend to write or create their own "cookbook" or methodology and this is where Quality Companion really scores highly by allowing you to write your own hints, tips and coaches and attach them to each of the techniques.. This customization should make it very easy to adapt the product to suit your environment.

It may just be me, but I found the tool very intuitive and easy to use. It seems to be one of those tools that you really can just pick up and run with.

Of course the process mapping can't match the best of the modeling tools, but then again those tools would probably struggle to compete with breadth/focus and ease of use. Of course modeling tools also struggle to compete on price. The nearest price competitor has to be Visio and I would say that Quality Companion offers better value for those working on process projects.

All the while I was using Quality Companion I was struggling to classify the product, it seems to offer "light" functionality from a whole number of areas including Modeling, Project Planning and Management, Analysis, Presentation. The light being in reference to the fact that they seem to have extracted the most relevant pieces and left some of the "bloat-ware" behind?

If you want to take a look and see just how easy it is to use then you can get a free trial here

Friday, 8 June 2007

The Real Motivation Behind BPM

Bookmark and Share

To simply talk of improving quality, managing process thinking, changing organizations, or automating existing processes is to miss the real motivation behind BPM. In discussing such topics, we can gain understanding as to why (despite increasing sales) BPM is not truly embedded in our management thinking and our boardrooms. Such topics act like painkillers for a headache and appeal to our sense of reason.

Would it not be better to take a more holistic approach? To try and eliminate the cause of the headache as in holistic medicine? Or, in this case, to appeal to the intuition or desire of people and companies?

To understand what I mean, consider the works of two of our accepted experts in the area of human, corporate, and societal change, Alvin Toffler and Charles Handy.

Of those that have read them, few would argue that Alvin Toffler's Future Shock and Charles Handy's Age of Unreason give a pretty good account of the changes going on in our lives, our companies, and our societies. But, of course, while many of the changes they predicted are proving all too accurate, they both got one thing seriously wrong – They both underestimated terribly the pace of change, the levels of confusion, and the amount of disruption caused by such change. But for many people these books are considered old hat or esoteric management thinking with no real relevance to today's society.

So consider instead, Kjell Nordstrom and Jonas Ridderstrale, two Swedish experts who have written a more up to date book describing similar issues but using modern references and using readily accessible analogies. Before rushing off to the bookshop however, you need to be aware that the book is somewhat unconventional in style, content, and the language used! The book Funky Business pulls no punches when dealing with the challenges we face as societies and as people.

Like others before them, Nordstrom and Ridderstrale assert that conventional approaches to business are dead. Further, they also assert that companies as we know them are dead; they put forward some very strong arguments for a new corporate order (or in their case disorder) and detail how this may look moving forward.

It may not seem it at first glance, but having just read their work and having pondered the earlier work of Toffler and Handy, I think that both of them have captured the essence of the real motivation behind BPM. It is not about the cheaper, faster, better paradigm that so many companies are still chasing. It is not about finding new ways to manage staff and monitor activity – such techniques still belong to old style corporate monoliths.

It is about bringing together all the assets of a company in a logical catalogued fashion such that they can be broken apart and reassembled in new ways, innovative ways such that our companies can create new products or services and address markets that our competitors have not even thought about yet. Look at Levi's and their ability now to sell custom fit jeans designed especially to fit you – you being a customer of one. Would this be possible in your industry?

Maybe someone is already contemplating it. People talk about Processes or Business Processes as constants; they suggest that the procedure (the "how") might change, but that the Process itself will remain for longer. But what if that were not the case? What if the key process was changing every year, month, or day? What if the only constants were people, knowledge, and customers?

It is about recognizing that knowledge is the key asset in the organization, along with ensuring that the company has the structure and flexibility to bring that knowledge to bear in a quick and focused way to capitalize on an opportunity— and to then be able to dismantle that structure and reassign people and assets when the steam runs out, all the while changing and adapting. Funky Business suggests that this is all about creating "temporary monopolies" or "niches" and then moving on to other more profitable markets when the competition catches up.

When looked at like this, it is perhaps easy to see why people have trouble convincing us to use a BPMS. The technology is fine, the problem they solve exists, but within companies we still do not have sufficient intuition to recognize how fast things are changing, and we do not really have the desire to change fast enough. We are still living in a state of complacency and denial. Vendors in the BPM space still rely on appealing to our reasoning, which, of course, is difficult if people are in denial. What if people, instead, appealed to our intuition and desire, and talked more about what we want or what we feel.

Further study would be required, but this might explain much of the continuing issue surrounding the business/IT divide. Is it that technology is being sold and marketed to our "reasoning," whereas business people work far more with "intuition" or "desire"? How often do you do something because it just feels right or because you just want to?

Something else, perhaps more interesting when talking about desire, came through in Funky Business. They talked about how other initiatives, such as BPR, TQM, JIT, etc., have all failed in the past, but only for those companies that chose to wait until they were well established before getting involved—by which time the early adopters had already milked the gains and moved on.

In closing, I would suggest that there are two key lessons: Firstly, for colleagues in the boardroom to ask whether they truly desire to be successful—for, if they do, then they had better get involved quickly before the true leaders move the goalposts again. Secondly, for those wanting to promote technology inside or outside their company, ask yourself, does what I am proposing appeal to the feelings and desires of those I am looking to sell to?

Note: This article first appeared in May 2004 on Mark McGregor's "Postcard from Europe" Series of articles on BPTrends

Thursday, 7 June 2007

BPMG Saga Looks Set to Run & Run

Bookmark and Share

What about the Customers?

Another day and more twists and turns in what can only be described as the BPMG "Soap Opera". First out of the blocks was former CEO Steve Towers with an email including a link to his "open letter" (you can read it here). It is interesting to note that Steve states "I am doing everything in my power to ensure not only BPM Groups survival but its ongoing growth and success." this would be good news to customers, members (and shareholders such as me), however today I also discovered that Bennu LLC, who list Steve Towers as nothing more than an associate (see here), may be being a little less than forthcoming with the truth. It seems that Steve Towers is in fact an officer of the company (click here and follow the link to "Officers And Directors Information").

So if I am reading this right, a company in which Steve is a Director has removed the BPMG website from another company in which he was a director and shareholder. At the same time preventing members/customers of one of his companies from being able to access the services for which they have paid. Confused? Well I certainly I am. Hardly seems like the actions of someone with the interests of members, customers and shareholders at heart.

I have no idea how this is all going to play out, what I do know is that it sounds like great business for the lawyers and bad news for the rest of us.

I stated earlier that I cannot be totally "impartial" on this being both a shareholder and a creditor (and former employee). But, I can say that these hardly seem like reasonable actions, which is why (as some clever people will already have figured out), I offered a temporary domain to the company and facilitated the setting up of email accounts for the company, in addition I "own up" to assisting the company in getting its message out to those parts of the membership who they still have contact details for. What I have done is of little consolation to those who have been denied service, but perhaps at least allows people to communicate with the company directly in the hope of having their issues dealt with.

It seems likely that the saga will run and run, and as many people have pointed out to me, there will be no winners here, just losers all round and a great deal of sadness.

When all any of us want to know is who really cares about the customers, not with their words but by their deeds. I humbly wish to suggest (actually perhaps "plead" would be better) that the website service should be restored immediately and that the rest of the laundry goes back into the laundry room. Whatever the issues with the company (and boy do we all now know there are issues!) the customer does not care.

Successful Customer Outcomes – The customer does not care about your problems, your supplier's problems, your engineering problems or any other problems you have. The customer simply wants what they expect in the agreed timeframe and to the quality they demand for the price they paid.

Customer Expectation Management – When a company creates an expectation in the market and fails to deliver on that promise, the customer who is king will vote with their wallet.

Moments of Truth – Let's not even go there!






Monday, 4 June 2007

BPM: When Management Take the Lead

Bookmark and Share

Most observers of Business Process Management agree that to really make the changes required for an organization to see the full benefits BPM can bring the top management team need to take the lead. There are many tales of people dreaming of getting senior management engaged. For one such organization those dreams came true. They like many of you had organized a BPM presentation and workshop to introduce the subject, the speaker was organized and the audience size was agreed, 30 people for the presentation and 15 for the workshop. Then the CEO agreed to send an email out to potential attendees and this was the result;

"As you are aware I am sponsoring the presentation "Why BPM?.. and Why BPM for Us?" The reason I am doing this is my belief that the difference between good and great companies is the systems which are driving them. I believe that the presentation and workshop that follow will give all of us an insight into the management techniques used to analyze and optimize our business processes. As managers this should be a fundamental part of what we do everyday. The reality though is that we get bogged down in day to day details and do not detach ourselves enough to look at the reasons why we do things the way we do them and consider doing them differently. We do not manage business processes, we let the processes manage us.

I am hoping that this presentation will be an eye opener in this area. I am also hoping to increase awareness as well as give you a view on how as a company we want to take our management to a higher level by instilling BPM as a core activity and competence within the business.

I appreciate your commitment to attend and your further commitment to go through the change process which BPM can deliver."

Imagine then if your own BPM initiative was heralded by an announcement like this. But even if it was do you think that the top 150 managers and executives would give up a day of their time, would the CEO be in it for the entire day to listen learn and laugh along with everyone else?

In this case the message was sent by Sayga CEO Ihab Latif to his management team. The result, as you can see from the picture here, was the result. (Taken during my recent trip to Sudan). Not just the top team of the Sayga decided to come along, but so did the top team of their parent company and many of their other subsidiaries. 150 of DAL Group's top management assembled for the day and even agreed to switch their phones off! The event was a momentous occasion for it turns out to be the first time that such a gathering has occurred at the company, and the topic that they were so keen to learn about was BPM and process improvement. What a signal it sent out to the rest of the organization. Management was not leading with words, but was leading by example.

As anyone who has consulted in the BPM arena will tell you this was the opportunity of a lifetime, and boy I knew the pressure was on me to deliver for the CEO and his BPM team who had invited me and to ensure that I fired the group up with the same passion for BPM as Ihab had shown.

There can be no mistaking the vision and foresight of a CEO like Ihab Latif. Consider you own organization and the challenges you may face in getting BPM up on the agenda of top management. How much harder would it be if your company's profits were still growing nicely and you were in the enviable position of having close to a 70% market share. For this is the situation in which Ihab has decided that the time is right for BPM. In conversation with him he explained to me "It is no good waiting until we are on the way down, it is while we are on the top of our game that we need to make the changes. For at that point we still have the time and resources to make sensible, rational choices, rather than having to rush into things in the vain hope that it can save us after the fact." A brave man and a true visionary.

Brave, because we all know it is hard to persuade people of the need for change when all appears to be going well. Visionary, because as well we all know there are all too few CEO's that are willing to both recognize and publicly do something about it.

Despite what may be seen from the array of papers being shown by part of the audience here. I am happy to report that as the day wound down the Sayga and DAL Management teams were indeed all back on the same page. They are a company that I will be watching for in the future, as the feedback at the end was very much, what can we do to help and what are the steps we need to take in order to make sure that we follow up in an effective and timely manner.

Now I can't speak for you, but for me, that is the feedback that tells you that you have really made a difference and got them to "Think Differently"

A few days later we held the two day process workshop for the 15 people, well we thought it would be 15! In the end we were physically turning away people as the number grew to 30. The experiences of that workshop and the details of how some of the follow up is being managed is the subject for another article.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Is IT Outsourcing Right For You?

Bookmark and Share

Whilst the challenge of business process outsourcing may still seem a leap too far for many businesses, IT outsourcing continues to generate much interest among companies in the UK (Europe is still quite some way behind the UK in this area and it is by no means certain that they will make the switch, instead they may simply leapfrog to BPO or beyond).

Perhaps it is the lure of being able to reduce back office costs by around 3%, or being able to contain, what for many, was the out of control upward spiraling IT costs that drove initial interest. Post 2001, however, many companies saw it as a quick way to raise cash – selling of their IT assets and then in effect leasing them back, and reducing headcount of non-core people at the same time.

Whatever the driving factor, there are many lessons learned, that would be clients for outsourcing would be wise to study before making the leap into the relative unknown. Unknown? Yes, for any of the hard lessons are buried deep and it can be hard to get beyond the hype.

Whilst there is much new interest in IT outsourcing, there is also a great deal of antipathy towards it and will be until the scars and the corporate memory of the failures fade, especially among those who tried it early. Many are now realizing that among the coal they sold were hidden diamonds, diamonds which are proving very expensive to get returned.

Of course the papers are full of new and ever greater contracts being awarded and won. But, it is not that long ago that we were reading about contract after contract being terminated with great acrimony all round. Indeed only in the past month we hear that the Inland Revenue are about to attempt, what for many observers could well be, the impossible, to switch providers after years of service. Many will be watching this transition with interest, if it works, then we can look forward to many more firms trying to make similar switches.

A couple of very quick lessons that have come out of contracts to date; there was too much emphasis on short term cost savings and not enough focus on improved quality or delivery of service. Those contracts were written in haste by people who were not really sure what was expected, with the result that many of the savings did not materialize, that there was not enough flexibility and that they did not take into account changes in the business. t To achieve real "step change" in terms of cost savings requires the outsourcing to go "off-shore." Taking outsourcing off-shore though provides other interesting communication and logistic challenges, and don't assume that just because India and Singapore are where everyone else is going you should be too. It is likely that in the not too distant future we will see Russia and Eastern Europe taking centre stage, before perhaps we look towards China.

The most important question to consider when looking at IT outsourcing is just how important technology and systems are to you business? If you think that through the intelligent application of technology that you can gain competitive advantage (or that others may gain against you!) then the probability is that you need to think beyond the original types of contracts, which basically saw firms give up all control over their systems. To outsource software development (assuming that you do not just use packages) makes sense, not many companies want to be in the software development business. To outsource the maintenance of hardware and systems along with the associated helpdesk makes sense. But, to outsource the decisions on what systems you can or will use and what software you may or not run in your environment probably makes no sense today.

Perhaps the biggest mistake that many people made was that they outsourced entire functions or departments, thus not only losing equipment and systems, but the knowledge of the staff that understood the "how" and "why" regarding those systems.

One American company, Volkswagon, had sold off and outsourced their IT functions to another group company Gedas. They subsequently re-hired business analysts to document and own their business processes and analyze why there were using so many different and duplicate systems. The results were pretty astounding; they are reporting 20% reductions in their outsourcing costs, greatly improved quality of service and increased customer satisfaction. While on the other side, Gedas, are having to admit that the new contracts and reductions in costs associated are reasonable, although I am not sure that they like the transparency of the new arrangement or that Volkswagon is taking more responsibility.

As we look to the future we are going to see great confusion in the marketplace. Not convinced about pure cost savings companies will look to ways of increasing quality and productivity, and here is where the cross-over with Business process outsourcing comes in. Of course some will look to business process outsourcing as just a means of taking those back office savings from the 3% to the 5-7% that some analysts suggest.

A recent survey by IDC suggests that over 60% of organizations are looking at Business process outsourcing and that over half of those believe that business process outsourcing is now an accepted practice. They see that Business Process outsourcing helps them create "virtual enterprises", accelerate organizational change, improve processes and to focus on revenue generation opportunities.

It is this mix of trying to sell/buy IT outsourcing contracts and then trying to leverage the Business process outsourcing benefits that will lead to the confusion. The two are not compatible! You can't expect to give everything away and then manage it remotely. You have to decide first and foremost what is important to the business you are in or wish to me in, then work out which aspects might lend themselves to being outsourced, only then can you select which type of outsourcing is appropriate. Something made all the more difficult with suppliers positioning themselves across both camps.

In summary, IT outsourcing is not right for as many companies as people think. Business Process outsourcing is probably a flawed concept and just a new way of trying to make functional outsourcing appeal to a broader audience. The two biggest assets in any business are the people and the processes, in both cases the management and responsibility has to remain in-house. Only "support" tasks/activities/functions should be outsourced and only then when you are able to explain to your potential supplier the processes you wish to have supported and the flexibility you need to be in a position to guide and drive your business

Note: This article first appeared in 2003 on Mark McGregor's series of articles on and in Finance Today Magazine

Saturday, 2 June 2007

At What Pace Can You Manage Change

Bookmark and Share

There is no doubt that the pace of change in society as a whole is relentless. This of course means that in business we have to strive to improve the ways in which we operate ever faster too. But what approach should we take to improvement? Continuous Process Improvement as suggested by the TQM approaches of old, Step Change improvements or just go for the "Big Bang" approach"?

This is the question nagging at the minds of many in the area of Business Process Improvement and it all boils down to two points. Firstly, the level of disruption you or your market can take and secondly, what your perspective is. As we shall see strong corporate performance in the future is likely to be based on your ability to manage all three at the same time, both inside and outside your organization.

The pace at which we can manage change will vary according to company culture, people and markets. The challenge will be in understanding and being able to apply such understanding in the smartest way possible.


At a recent conference I found myself in quite a heated debate with another delegate over the difference between a "Big Bang" change and a "Step Change". After a long discussion it turns out that we both did in fact agree with each other, it was just that we were talking about completely different things! They were using "Big Bang" in the context of a project causing a switch from process A to process B and were meaning that "Big Bang" was referring to an absolute switch from A to B at a specific point in time, whereas I was referring to a "Big Bang" as something that completely changed a market, e.g. caused massive disruption in the market – something like Amazon creating a whole new way of buying books via the web and the way in which that affected traditional booksellers.

So as we see, the first thing we need to establish when seeking to make change is whether we are looking at it from a market, company or project perspective. In all cases we still will make use of the three levels of change – incremental, step and "Big Bang". This differentiation is especially important in communicating change. As my debate illustrates we were both arguing the same thing, it was just that we had not put context into our discussion. Process professionals will need to be clear when communicating such changes as this context will have a major bearing on the receptiveness of an audience. As you might expect people will be thrilled by the benefits that might come about by "Big Bang", especially if it affects others and not them! Those same people are also more likely to prefer the idea of incremental change if it involves major changes to the way they work.


Whether it is a word that people like to see or not "disruption" is the key differentiator between the three levels of change. Quite simply incremental change implies minimal disruption, step change implies some disruption and "Bing Bang" implies major disruption.

The levels and benefits of disruption desired will depend largely on your perspective. When it comes to your markets the more disruption you can cause your competitors then the more you can gain from the market. Smart companies will be constantly looking at ways to apply disruptive solutions and make it as near impossible as they can for competitors to catch up with them.

But, if you are looking inside a company then whatever the productivity or cost benefits you desire you want to minimize the real levels of disruption from a people perspective and to ensure that you allow any changes to bed down before moving on.

When looking at your customers there is a fine line to be drawn between disruptive changes that they might appreciate, things that make it easier for them to buy or get service from you and those that take them into areas that they are not comfortable with yet e.g. switching everyone to online or telephone banking and doing away with branches.

Incremental Change

It goes without saying that in all aspects of all businesses incremental change is simply a necessity of life. It is simply not good enough to keep doing the same things as we always had. We have to do what we do ever better and we have to deliver ever better products and services to our markets and customers. It should be taken as a "gimme" that the culture in modern organizations should be adapted for such change.

However in reality even such minor change seems to cause disproportionate levels of disruption. This is probably due to mainly to a lack of communication on the part of management. Truly embedding it as part of culture probably requires not much more than providing people with insight, involvement and communication.

Of course from a project perspective what might be seen by a company as incremental may in fact be seen as a major step change to the operators of staff directly associated with it and so when planning a project role out consider whether greater emphasis in the training needs to be placed on gaining commitment from the staff involved.

In automotive terms an incremental change might be typified by the introduction of a new model year version of a car.

Step Change

In automotive terms a step change might be typified by the introduction of a completely new version of the same car.

Big Bang Change

In automotive terms a big bang change might be the introduction of a complete range of gas powered cars.

Rest and Relaxation

The key to managing pace

The primary factor in managing change is people. Whatever your organization you will only be able to comfortably handle incremental change if you don't take into account people issues. In our lives today, we all have to deal with too much change and for many of us the thought of willingly bringing on more change fills us with dread. So in order to be able to manage Step or Big Bang changes we need to invest in people. This investment in people is not merely providing them with communication and training in new methods approaches and processes – although more effort in this area would certainly make it somewhat easier for people to deal with change in work.

Instead it is more a case of working to develop people's receptiveness to change in all aspects of their lives. Employers who made more effort to focus on "training for life" and helped their staff learn the skills to deal with change in their everyday lives, would find those same staff far more willing to cooperate with change in their own organizations. In fact I would go as far as to suggest that staff trained to understand and deal with change would be far more likely to become proactive in changing aspects of their work in order to aid productivity.

However, as we have seen above it is not just your staff you need to think of when dealing with the people issues; you also have to think about your market too. Whatever field of business you operate in the fact is that your end market will be made up of people. In assessing how much change your market can deal with you will need to think about the people that make up your market and how willing they might be to adapt. There is no point in making a "Big Bang" change cantered around technology if your target market is made up of older people, as for the most part they are more than a little wary of all things technological. Witness the fact that until recently, most VCRs were being programmed by children for their parents!

So the real key in managing pace is to ensure that you, as opposed to your competitors, understand how receptive to change your people and markets are. Indeed, proactive companies will be those that actively seek to help those people and thus truly embed the change culture in their companies and markets. For that is what it is really about, changing the culture of a company or market to ensure that it is receptive to change. The more receptive it is then the faster and bigger the changes you can make.

Companies that are able to embed such culture will surely be the big winners in the months and years ahead.

Note: This article first appeared in 2004 on Mark McGregor's series of articles on

Friday, 1 June 2007

What is Happening With BPMG? – Some Answers

Bookmark and Share

Like many readers, I have seen some emails regarding what is going on at the BPMG. As a shareholder of BPM Group (BPMG) / BPM Ventures (BPMV) Ltd I have been in touch with the new CEO regarding the situation, and as I understand from him the follow appears to be the case

1. Following pressure from external shareholders over the financial management of the company, I understand that at a board meeting yesterday (31st May 2007), Steve Towers and David Lyneham-Brown (although both remain directors and shareholders of the company) relinquished any executive powers within the BPMG and it's parent company BPMV Ltd.

2. The new CEO is aware that it appears that the BPMG website has been "hi-jacked" by a third party and that that party may be using the BPMG mailing list, he is looking to restore the site and protect the data s soon as possible.

3. I am also informed that the IP in all training materials remains the property of BPMG / BPMV Ltd.

4. I understand that the situation will become clearer over the next week or so and that we can expect further communication from the BPMG and the new CEO in that time.

I will of course do my best to keep you updated on the situation and advised of any further news as best I can

Kind Regards

Mark McGregor

How Business Processes Create Competitive Advantage

Bookmark and Share

It is now over two years since I was first invited to the offices of LOGiCOM Plc in the UK. At that time they had brought in some new management who felt that documenting the Business Processes would assist them in gaining greater insight into their business, I suspect back then that they had no idea just how much that early work was to influence companies' fortunes going forward. As we will see, a project that started out as any other has now transformed the way that LOGiCOM does business and in itself become a revenue generator.

LOGiCOM is leading supplier of outsourced solutions for service parts management. Their solutions are specifically designed for Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), their authorized service partners and multi-vendor hardware maintenance providers. Although LOGiCOM is an independent company, they were originally a division of Fujitsu Services (formerly ICL), and as such they have a long history in providing Supply Chain solutions.

The original intent at LOGiCOM was to formalize their Business Processes in order to ensure they meet the agreed service levels with their clients. Of course, in doing so, the company also managed to leverage significant cost savings and identify numerous improvements.

Reto Just, LOGiCOM Chief Executive, commented, "The cost savings associated with the development of the Business process and Workflow Models are significant. The annual savings in terms of headcount, paper based model replacement; productivity improvements, information retrieval, and business process modeling are in excess of £285,000."

This in itself can be considered a success, and, indeed, as we can see above, LOGiCOM certainly thought so. But, of course, this is nothing more than we would normally expect from such exercises and so, in itself, might not be seen as new or amazing. It is how LOGiCOM went on to reuse their knowledge and skills that make this story stand out.

You see, as a result of the initial work, LOGiCOM realized that they now had a greater understanding of how their customers did business; in many cases, a better and more documented view than many of the customers themselves!

Not content with just sitting back contentedly with this knowledge of their customers' businesses, LOGiCOM set about harnessing this knowledge to enable a more efficient sales process.

The company now uses the Business Process and Workflow models as a demonstration tools for their sales people. From the models, they can audit where a client is, perform gap analysis on where the client wants to get to, and then illustrate how LOGiCOM can assist them in getting there.

Others could easily dismiss the value of these models as a sales tool, but to do so would be rather churlish. As Reto Just points out, "We estimate that the existence and use of the models has already contributed to LOGiCOM achieving additional revenue in the region of £1 million."

Not part of the original brief, but a side benefit for LOGiCOM, is the fact the same models also act as the baseline for the company's Quality Management System and are used to demonstrate their compliance with their ISO9002 registration.

This success story highlights what I have believed for some time. The fact that the perceived overhead in capturing and documenting Business Processes only exists when companies don't look to find ways of leveraging their efforts. Any small consultancy would find it significantly easier to compete with the larger players if, when they went in to visit with prospects, they were able to demonstrate, through the use of models, that they were not going to reinvent the wheel for the client, but were going to build on the knowledge they already had. Many clients, I am sure, would appreciate that this would lead to many assignments being carried out in shorter timeframes and with reduced costs.

How would you feel if you were going to compete against LOGiCOM with just words? You would most probably have to invest in offering a similar Business Process and Workflow modeling service in their market. LOGiCOM has very successfully raised the barrier by which others will be judged and, of course, made it all that much harder for new entrants in the market.

Going back to my old "chestnut," Business Process Outsourcing, this is exactly how client and outsourcer should be working together. The models provide clear understanding on what is going to be performed by whom and to what standard. It drives, if not becomes, the service level agreement and should become part of the contract.

I have on many occasions in the past (and I am sure I will continue to do so in the future) complained that the Business Process Outsourcing, however well intentioned, is being misunderstood and mismanaged with what I will suggest could be disastrous side effects for businesses in the future. It is nice to see and hear that at least one company is not only realizing how they can gain competitive advantage through the use of understanding their clients' business processes, but is also ensuring that the clients have a far greater understanding of what they are getting themselves into.

My only comment to clients of such services would be that you need to ensure that you get useable copies of any such models and that, from your own perspective, you take ownership of these. I do not know whether LOGiCOM provides these to their clients, but can see a danger if the client fails to take ownership and then finds themselves trapped with a single supplier.

While, of course, the work at LOGiCOM could have been carried out with most tools, and my comments are generic, for the record, the tool they used for their projects was ProVision Workbench.

Note: This article first appeared in March 2004 on Mark McGregor's "Postcard from Europe" Series of articles on BPTrends


Business Process: Less About Standards And More About Profitability

Bookmark and Share

Over the last few months there has been much debate in Europe regarding standards for BPM. Much of the speculation regards the new version of the Object Management Group's (OMG) Unified Modeling Language (UML) – UML 2.0, which is soon to be released: What exactly will it contain and how might it affect the market?

My initial reaction to this is that the debate largely misses the point. In talking to business users and process owners one very rarely hears them debating or discussing the relative merits of a particular standard. Most business managers are far more concerned with operational efficiency, competitive advantage, and profit.

Having said that, I think it might be worthwhile to look at some of the standards initiatives and how they relate to BP.

Starting with UML, at the recent meeting in Orlando, members of the OMG finally voted on the new UML 2.0 standard, and the debate over what would be included and what would not, ended. But, the speculation did not.

In a recent article on UML 2.0 for Bloor Research, Analyst Phil Howard commented, "What is notable by its absence is anything from the Business Rules Group, which is concerned with Business Process Modeling (BPM). For some time there has been discussion about extensions to UML to specifically cater to BPM and there are some facilities for supporting such although these are by no means comprehensive." He then goes on to say that, "As the OMG points out, the business process space is in a state of flux right now, with proponents of different approaches currently arguing their respective cases." And, he concludes by saying, "It looks as if the OMG is intending to stand above the fray and aims to support whatever emerges as a winner."

Let me be clear - I believe that the OMG has done a great job with UML and its recent extension, MDA. These standards provide support for software design and development and, in this context, UML offers clear benefits. However the OMG has never properly dealt with the issues of Data Modeling with UML. Rather, they have chosen to ignore the advice of a large body of Data Modeling experts because their thoughts do not fit with the object centric views of the technologists that help to shape UML. This inability to allow UML to properly address non-pure "OO" problems is what, in my opinion, makes the OMG and their technical committees ineffective in the area of BP. The thoughts of these people are tightly linked to the ability to generate software and systems, not to manage data or to help businesses generate profit.

Although the OMG has re-entered the space recently with its RFI for Business Processes, it is not really about BP. It is about the generation of workflow systems. This is due, largely, to the fact that most members of the OMG believe that fewer software development projects and more workflow systems are likely to be the order of the day for the next couple of years.

Of course the primary effort to create standards for Business Process has been driven by the Business Process Management Initiative ( ). Here we have seen attempts to drive 2 particular standards – (1) Business Process Management Language (BPML) billed as a common language based on XML for exchanging BP related information, and (2) Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) as a standard for ways of representing BP. Both of these standards have run into problems, although work on them is still continuing. In the first case, amalgamation of the IBM and Microsoft standards into BPEL4WS means that the money in this space will move away from BPMI and follow the IBM/Microsoft camp. In the second case, this standard is again focused on executable or automated processes, and discussions between the BPMI and the OMG have caused confusion in the marketplace. There are those within the OMG who suggest BPMN is not needed and can be represented using existing UML notations, and those within the BPMI who don't recognize the need to fully address the issues of "Organization" and "Location" and other functions required to properly represent value chains and other non automated processes.

My prediction is that, over time, a standard for sharing information via XML for executable processes will emerge, and it will probably be based around UML. I also predict that should UML come to dominate the BP modeling field, customers will simply not bother to use tools. A pretty strong statement, but then honest brokers in the BP market will acknowledge that the most popular tools for BP modeling in the market today are still Visio and PowerPoint – not because they are the best or even the right tools for the job, but because they are easily used by business people and do not require the involvement of IT to describe business processes.

I would never suggest, in a world so dominated by technology, that IT has no part to play in a BP initiative. To the contrary, IT has a major part to play in helping support those Business Processes. But, most business managers recognize that if they can understand, streamline, and communicate the 80% of non-automated processes, they can significantly increase profits – either by reducing costs or increasing sales. It is this ability to map out the view at 30,000 feet and then drill down where appropriate that appeals to business people.

I suggest that if you sat a group of prospects down with two presentations:

(1) Which highlighted the benefits of standards and outlined the work in that area, and another,

(2) Which highlighted cost benefits, increased sales and profits, and the ease of sharing and communicating information?

80% of the prospects would choose #2. I would also suggest that the remaining

20% who chose #1, would likely be IT managers.

Note: This article first appeared in May 2003 on Mark McGregor's "Postcard from Europe" Series of articles on BPTrends