A year in the process world - Some quick thoughts.

2008 draws to a close and gives us the opportunity, once again, to review what has happened over the last twelve months in the world of business processes.

Economically the last twelve months have shown a lot of change. The bail-out of the financial markets, coupled with the potential issues with the Big 3 car manufacturers, along with what we Brits refer to as 'The Credit Crunch", has caused a lack of consumer confidence. Already this last three weeks, 3 major British high street retailers have gone into administration and one - the venerable Woolworths - will disappear totally from the high street after almost 100 years of business.

Naturally all this uncertainty has caused ructions in the general world of business. Companies are no longer willing to spend a lot of money on things that think they can do themselves, or to 'waste' money on non value-added expenses. Travel budgets are being cut. Advertising is being cut. Conference budgets are being cut. Outsourcing is being stopped.

Looking at business process management specifically one area that has been in the news a lot is the loss of outsourcing contracts in places like India and the Philippines. Every week in the last half of the year appeared to bring news that some company was withdrawing its outsourcing contract from one of those two places. Not much information was given about how these companies were going to actually deal with BPM work in their organisations? Presumably a lot of companies were looking at bringing in a third party software provider to implement a tool to do this (and you know my opinions on having the right tool for the job)

Amongst major vendors there has been some business success with their products with demand for Business Process Management solutions at an all time high. Metastorm also managed to gain a big hold on the BPM market by releasing V6.1 of it Metastorm/Provision tools set.Iit also released plans for an IPO to raise money and then pulled out of that in November due to market conditions.

There were, as usual, many conferences this year. The big one, obviously, was the Gartner BPM conference in September as well as the events by IRM and Management Events in the UK. one of the things that did come out of gartners research this year related to BPM was the fact that in the economic downturn few companies are actually cancelling BPM projects. This must mean they are obviously seeing the long term benefit of running something that will improve efficiency and cut down waste (hurrah!). For coverage of the Gartner conference the best blog is Sandy Kemsley's Column2.

What's in store for 2009? I'm sure the market will continue to recede as it is doing at the moment. Companies will continue to look for ways to increase their efficiency, decrease their costs and increase their sales. BPM will become a major part of that. Companies will also have to decide whether having some sort of large BPM tool with lots of whistles and bells is better than actually doing something simple such as looking at their processes with a view to appropriately managing them? I am of the opinion - as has been expressed in these pages before- that if all you have is a hammer then every problem is a nail. This means that companies without BPM or EA tools will start to look at their problems in light of what tools they have.This is not necessarily a good thing.

GCP Consulting will - in the new year - launch a brand new offering to the world. This is tentatively called the Small Business Review and is aimed at businesses which are mature businesses with 10 - 100 employees. The primary function of a Small Business Review (SBR) is to identify and remedy issues that are causing process management to be overlooked, ignored, or badly managed. Basically this is looking at the creation of a process management capability within an organisation. Initially this will be released in a workshop format with attendees being talked through a detailed workbook that will identify their key business processes, the issue surrounding them (badly designed processes, inadequately documented processes, no process owners etc) and then identify a set of tasks needed to remedy these issues. This will result in an action plan at the end of the workshop that each attendee can take with them to start moving down the path towards having a process capability. The principles of the workshop are all linked into the concepts behind The Perfect Process Project, my ebook which was release last year.

Keep an eye out for more information about this workshop offering early in the new year. If anyone is interested in helping promote this, or even wants to work with me to fine tune the workshop session and the workbook, then please get in touch with me. I'd love to hear from you.

Finally I would like to wish you all a good new year and let's hope 2009 is better then 2008!

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