Today I have been talking to a number of people on twitter about the issues of using too much jargon, something that ECM and BPM companies and consultants seem to do all the time. What triggered this off was reading a couple of articles where people thought BPM / workflow was something new. Then in their own descriptions of BPM got it wrong, and more importantly started comparing their own services to BPM, which they weren’t at all. The articles also talked about BPM as if it didn’t really exist….why???
I also have been reading a number of articles where explanations of ECM and BPM are just so complex to read or full of jargon that, well they don’t make instant sense to anyone outside the ECM / BPM market place.
Firstly, BPM (Business Process Management), well workflow, has been around and used in IT since the 1980’s. It’s nothing new or revolutionary, though to many businesses, it probably is. Many organisations either don’t understand it, or have not yet recognised the amounts of benefits such solutions bring to organisations.
Secondly, ECM (Electronic Content Management) has been around in some form again since the 1980’s. Though its current badge of ECM is quite a bit younger, essentially, ECM solutions have been round a while.
The simple truth is, if ECM and BPM solutions cannot provide simple descriptions of what they actually do, what hope is there for describing how these technologies help businesses….Which they do, very well.
So what is ECM?
Ok, now if you know about ECM, please have a go at describing ECM simply, in a single sentence, and add to the comments for this post…..But I am looking for simple definitions without jargon.
What I constantly see on the web is a paragraph of a description. Something, that for many people may read as meaningless twaddle created by some smart a** in marketing. This is one of those examples I see frequently on the web, and funny enough in Wikipedia. Oh, its also one of the better examples, though I think you may agree, still a little…well, read for yourself:
“Enterprise Content management (ECM) is the strategies, methods and tools used to capture, manage, store, preserve and deliver content and documents related to organisational processes. ECM tools and strategies allow the management of an organisations unstructured information, wherever that information exists”
Great…..So I am new to ECM, this is my first venture into reading about it and I am presented with that….Not good, though technically correct, how hard is it to understand. Mind you, I don’t like the word processes there really….But that’s another post..
For me we have to make things simple, even if that means we don’t describe it as accurately as we should do. After all, a business isn’t going to buy into ECM based on one description of what it is. It may though get them interested, or turned off. So what’s my description of ECM…Ok, well I use a few, many of which my company use and, well clients seem to grasp what we mean straight away.
“ECM is a large digital storage area; in it you can place and manage anything that can be stored electronically and or recognised on a computer.”
Now I know that sells ECM short. However, it’s a single sentence. It helps the customer or newcomer to ECM understand a core principle. Once they understand that, you can explain more about ECM.
So what is BPM?
Again if you know about BPM, this is going to seem silly, but try to describe BPM in layman’s terms in the comments of this post. Again I have seen some shocking explanations that just confuse the matter, or make people believe it only relates to software….Here is my own shot at it:
“BPM is a computer based solution that allows you to bring together all the elements of a particular process / job within an organisation and help your staff get their work done efficiently”
Again, I am selling BPM short here, but it gets across a core principle. Is there really any need to talk about mapping business process work flows? Using abstract modelling to deliver strategic management of processes reducing process cycle times? I don’t think so.
Again, simply is best to start with.
So why the jargon in the first place?
Simple…..I have no idea!
Sometimes I think it is genuinely due to people trying to describe ECM or BPM in its entirety. However, more often than not I think it’s the way people seem to want to do business today. Thinking by using some jargon or glossy terms they look more knowledgeable or make their product much better. If you have watched the Apprentice you will see a lot of this rubbish in the board room…
I’m worried, and am sure people walk away from ECM and BPM solutions, simply because they have got lost in the jargon.
Is there a point or conclusion????
My point is this. Jargon and lengthy descriptions of ECM and BPM just isn’t good. Anything with that much jargon in it or complex descriptions will have people outside of the market scratching their heads and “best guessing” just what ECM / BPM is all about. More often than not, with them getting it wrong!
By keeping it simple, we get across our core selling point. Once people have a basic grasping, then they can be exposed to the more complex areas of both ECM and BPM, but please, with real world examples businesses can relate to and without the massive amounts of jargon.
A friend today said, “We need to humanise our literature”. I think he hit the nail on the head…