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BPM – Without the Baggage

Nintex prefers to call what we do workflow automation, but we recognize that a lot of people are familiar with other terms.

Business Process Management, is a well-known  one, as are Business Process Modeling, Business Process Improvement, Business Process Reengineering, Business Process Automation.

In fact, that kind of alludes to why we’ve resisted the BPM label. It’s not that we don’t model and manage business processes – we obviously do a lot of that. But we’re not interested in getting academic about it and splitting hairs about things like what’s BPM vs. BPA.

We – and our customers – are trying to get work done.

The Business Process – Reengineered

In fact, “BPM” conjures up (perhaps unfairly, admittedly) an image of armies of consultants, long-running projects, endless meetings, a language of its own with a 250-page design manual, specialized job roles and departments, a state of “analysis paralysis”, and a resultant culture of enforcement. BPM doesn’t have to be like that, but many people think it’s like that.

We help companies create, improve and reengineer business processes. But we go about it a different – dare we say better – way:

  • No process should be left behind

    BPM often focuses on high-profile challenges that involve large numbers of stakeholders and cut across the entire company. These are, of course, important processes to digitally transform and automate. But so are, taken in aggregate, the vast number of locally-scoped problems people face. They add up to a lot of lost time. They add up to a lot of lost focus on more important things. They add up to a lot of mistakes due to inattention – they are, after all, distractions. We think those need to be automated, too (maybe even more so).

  • Problem owners should be solution owners

    The closer the solution is to its actual owner, the better; it’s more likely to be right the first time, easier to modify as conditions change, etc. Moreover, a lot of “everyday” processes will never by owned by constrained IT budgets. Tools that are within the grasp of the people who own the problems are crucial.

  • “Easy” is hard – but it’s worth it

    Ease of use is an enterprise-worthy criterion. If some problems can be solved by the groups that own them, they can’t require weeks of training and large manuals. That said, one also can’t simplify tools down to a few cookie-cutter use cases. “Easy”, to us, means “fewest steps and/or least time possible” – but not with restrictions.

  • The process should come to you – not the other way around

    It’s not reasonable to deploy something that gives you yet one more app to install on your phone or yet one more website to bookmark. Process solutions should surface in the places you already work: team sites, email, instant messaging, social media, content stores, phone/tablet apps you already use, and so on.

  • It’s not just one process at a time

    Participants have limits, and if an app demands too much, that app will fail. Taking every effort to focus on participant experience, minimize participant fatigue, and reduce participant load pays off handsomely.

 

Workflow That Works

In other words, automating and managing the flow of work through organizations, designers and participants is what Nintex cares about. We started out that way, and we continue to aim our investments in that direction.

We’re a lot less in love with the idea of top-down BPM centers of excellence, looking around for processes to improve. We think centers of excellence happen organically after enough people in a company get good at automating problems in which they’re personally invested.

We think workflow automation is a skill that should be distributed widely; some people will master it, whereas others will dabble in it – but everyone will come to recognize it as valuable.

There are plenty of good things about BPM. We’re particularly fond of the tenet that that processes are assets, and deserve to be treated accordingly. We do believe that modeling them, trying them out and improving them is a very good idea. Customers use us for “BPM-like” solutions every day. But it feels different. It feels better.

We like “workflow automation” as a term, but if you prefer “BPM – without the baggage”, we’ll hardly object.

Find out more about workflow automation by visiting https://www.nintex.com/workflow-automation. To learn real-world examples of how workflow automation can benefit and help manage your business process, read our case studies.

 

Mike Fitzmaurice

Vice President of Workflow Technology Mike “Fitz” Fitzmaurice is Nintex's subject matter expert and chief spokesperson for workflow, business transformation, and technology evangelism. Before Nintex, he spent 11 years at Microsoft, and was involved with every version of SharePoint from pre-2001 through the 2010 release. His expertise includes process automation, integration, collaboration, and a lot of other “ation”s. Follow @mikefitz on Twitter.