What Gets Measured Gets Done...or Does it?

This blog is also posted on the Infosys company blog here. Infosys is a Platinum Partner of Pegasystems.

We often hear the motto, “What gets measured gets done.” The “measures” could be simple and tactical, such as the average time it takes to resolve a customer claim, or the maximum cost of opening an account. Measures could also be strategic and critical such as the what is happening with US public debt. We have been hearing a lot recently about president Obama’s special deficit commission to come up with practical solution for the ever-increasing US debt - which is now in excess of $13 trillion.

It will be a challenge. It is not easy to improve all measurements. Sometimes the initiatives to keep the measures in control are too complex and take too long to improve. Actions to remedy measured performance indicators could be marred in bureaucracy and stakeholders sometimes lack the will to make difficult decisions. So how can we link measures to actions?

The synergy between two complementary disciplines exemplifies the linkage between business measurement and action (the “gets done” part): BI and BPM.

Business intelligence (BI) focuses on gaining insight or knowledge from data. There are many sources of data, including the following:

  • Operational or transactional data from legacy, point-solution, or ERP applications;
  • Process instance and case data from BPM suites;
  • Data from external sources including, but not limited to, public and census data;
  • Data warehouses and/or data marts that aggregate databases (mostly relational) from a plethora of sources, including transactional, operational, or BPM databases.

BPM focuses on execution and automation. BPM allows monitoring all the events and activities of automated processes. Reporting on work assignments and providing reports as well as analysis of automated processes are important Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) capabilities within a BPM suite. Examples of generic business activity monitoring reports here include the performance of operators, teams, and organizations; reports on activation, progress, and completion of cases; time series on process creation or completion over a time interval; etc. In BPM Suites BAM reports are graphical and actionable: managers, for instance, can interact with the report and decide to re-assign tasks. In fact, BPM has the potential of linking both strategic as well as tactical measures to process activities.

The continuous measurement and performance-based cycle gets completed when we tie BI approaches and techniques with BPM. In a recent episode of the BPM Professor, I expanded upon the relationship between BPM and BI. There is a spectrum of measurement and mining techniques, from simple reports to advanced predictive models. Furthermore, as noted above, data can be obtained from a plethora of sources. Data mining, and especially predictive modeling techniques, can be used to detect business patterns and then invoke the discovered rules in the context of BPM solutions. This is the essence of Predictive BPM.

Through automated BPM solutions, BI becomes “operationalized.” This means insight that is gained through reports, analysis, or discovered patterns through BI tools, could be acted upon through BPM solutions. BPM involves operators and the end-to-end control of the processes. The “doing” - or escalations and actions - are not left to chance. The service levels that specify the requirements of due dates are automatically resolved or escalated. The operators are guided and assisted in their user interactions. The measures and the actions get coalesced: merging insight from historic as well as real-time data with actions in the context of automated processes.

So with BPM using the best BI techniques and disciplines, what gets measured perhaps stands the best chance to get done. But not always. Probably not for complex and strategic measures such as the national debt. Nevertheless, it still stands the best chance to get done!