Oiling the Conveyor Belt

Our friend and BPM and Business Rules analyst Jim Sinur makes a great point today in his blog, that sometimes when you "time box" a BPM initiative it can lead to an unintended consequence of "sub-optimizing" a larger enterprise process.

He quite rightly says that no one does this on purpose, but it happens "by accident". He advises people to avoid this by keeping the "corporate objectives in mind" and avoid doing anything that might negatively impact customer experience or the overall cost of an “end to end” process. This is the problem of having one section of the conveyor belt oiled and optimized better than the rest -- the upstream and downstream process can't keep up and it ultimately disrupts the flow. But there is another approach that can empower local innovation and change, deliver BPM benefits quickly, while not messing up the whole ecosystem. If you can "federate" multiple BPM initiatives you can then actually re-use and balance these initiatives. My colleague Thomas Kaufman wrote a whitepaper on federated deployment strategies as part of a COE or Center of Excellence practice. We think this is a potential solution to the problem of "BPM silos", pockets of isolated efficiency. In addition to federating (and bringing both governance and re-use into the picture) you also need to be able to take this re-use to a different level, and enable people to pull selected bits and pieces of process and policy from one BPM project, and use it in another, maintaining updates and improvements as they happen. I guess I have been so used to seeing how our customers are doing this that I need to stop and think that this is, actually, really important. The impediments to both delivering quick wins in the "time box" and achieving an overall program of enterprise improvement should not be technical. But it will always remain a cultural challenge -- to look beyond to see how your specific continuous improvement initiative is aligned with a corporate strategic goal.