Those BPM professionals in the Grey area. Business or IT?

5 11 2010

I have been partaking in a discussion on LinkedIn, which asked the question, “Why majority of BPM projects fail?” Now the answer is simple. If you don’t have support for the BPM project from all levels of management, and you don’t have a champion pushing it to succeed within the business, then the projects has a real hard time to succeed. And this is because it’s all about changing the way people work, people almost always have to be forced to accept change…

Anyway, one of the issues thrown up in the discussion thread, is the confusion many have between who are IT people and who are Business people. Many comments talk about IT, but really they are talking about Business….So why the confusion, isn’t the difference obvious?

The middle man…

Ok, so you are starting an IT project, let’s say it is a BPM solution. The vendor employees turn up on site and start to look at your current business processes, the way you currently work and they try to understand your business. Now, they are working for essentially an IT company, and they are working on an IT project, with the aim of delivering an IT solution to a business need…But are they IT?

Many people see these people as in IT. Most themselves would say “yeap, I work in IT”. But the reality is they fall into the grey area. Essentially they are BA’s working on an IT project. I see them  as Business people. They don’t need to know a thing about IT, technologies, concepts, solution architecture etc etc. But they do need to understand business rules, the nature of the business and how the people work within that business. So they are business people, right?

But these same people also design new business processes, that’s ok right? But it goes further; they also model the new processes, showing exception handling, essentially building the rules into the IT solution. They also put forward their own thoughts on how things, and where they should, integrate with other systems. You see the grey area appearing? Essentially they are using administration tools within the IT solution to build the IT solution to meet the business needs. This really shouldn’t be happening. I know many designer tools are out there to allow this, and they see the BA role as a business one. But the presumption here is that the BA is all knowing, in terms of the business (which is wrong, many times they can’t and won’t discover all the processes and sub processes) but also that they are all knowing in terms of the IT, understanding IT architecture, integration issues, exception processing etc. So our BA is not really in IT, but is presumed to know everything about it. I can safely say I can count on one hand the people I have met who can do this role…

So based on this model, the IT geeks (as they seem to be called – which is a little harsh), get to work and build some integration in, build some robot apps etc, all depends on what has been modelled and how flexible your BPM platform is I guess. Oh, they are also the ones who seem to get the blame if something is missing in a process, little harsh…

That grey area

So these BA’s are not IT, they don’t need to know anything about IT to do their job. Yet they do need to understand and learn business, and how an organisation does its business. So they are in Business….But that grey area arises, because they then jump into the IT side of things to help build the solution, they essentially get the IT ball rolling, often on their own…

What’s the issue?

The issue is that a vital step gets missed out. And that is essentially where the real IT bods get to look at the business needs. Where the business needs are communicated directly to IT. Really IT should be involved before new processes are mapped out. They can foresee any technical problems, they can look at other ways of working that could be even more efficient and have a big impact on the future processes. It is this stage that gets missed, simply because the IT project relies on the BA to know everything….And that’s because, people from the organisation see these BA’s as IT. And IT sees them as the business…

The designer makes things worse

The designer is one of the big culprits here in BPM solutions. Because it is “Business focused” or business facing supposedly, BA’s build the maps and model the solutions. If that tool was not available, then they would need to communicate with IT. This then enforces that missing step…

This isn’t my only issue with the designer. I have posted a few times about how restrictive it is and how it can have a negative impact on the efficiency of the solution…

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3 responses

5 11 2010
Tweets that mention Those BPM professionals in the Grey area. Business or IT? « Andrew One Degree’s Blog -- Topsy.com

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Andrew Smith, Andrew Smith and onedegree consulting, workFileEPOS. workFileEPOS said: RT @AndrewOneDegree: Too many business focused jobs get lumped in with "IT" on BPM projects. It causes problems http://tinyurl.com/2u73msp [...]

12 11 2010
Scott

“Many people see these people as in IT. Most themselves would say “yeap, I work in IT”. But the reality is they fall into the grey area. Essentially they are BA’s working on an IT project. I see them as Business people. They don’t need to know a thing about IT, technologies, concepts, solution architecture etc etc. But they do need to understand business rules, the nature of the business and how the people work within that business. So they are business people, right?”

If these are the people vendors are bringing to the table, shame on them. The people who do this work need to be deeply knowledgeable about IT subjects, technologies, concepts, architecture, scale, etc. They ALSO need to be able to understand the business, and how to translate business requirements into software. The people offered up should not be glorified BA’s. (For the role that you’ve described, designing the business process with a designer tool that is expected to turn into working software).

13 11 2010
BPM Quotes of the week « Adam Deane

[...] Why BPM Projects Fail – Andrew Smith The designer is one of the big culprits here in BPM solutions. Because it is [...]

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