The BPM Blacklist

I wanted to try and create a definitive list of the top 10 BPM bloggers for anyone interested in the niche.

This is my equivalent of "The Black List", which is a Hollywood list of the top unproduced screenplays every year.

To qualify for the BPM Blacklist a blogger has to meet the following criteria:

  1. Blog regularly on the topic of BPM, BI or BPMN
  2. Produce good quality, informative posts
  3. Tweet, be tweeted or retweeted regularly.
  4. Has to be someone I read and follow
Criteria 1 and 3 are along a continuum. If someone hasn't posted for a while but has been regularly tweeting good content then I can cut them some slack. Similarly if they blog a lot but don't tweet regularly.

Of the available bloggers who meet this criteria I have then selected my top ten. This may not equate to your top ten.

The first version of this was produced in August 2010 by me. There have been a number of changes since then, some of which have been influenced by comments on that post.

Added to the list
Elise Olding
Keith Swenson
Max Pucher

Removed from the list
Theo Priestley : No longer meets the criteria listed (1, 3)
Ashish Bagwhat : No longer meets the criteria listed (1)
BouncingThoughts: No longer meets the selection criteria (1)

Just because you are not on the list at the moment doesn't mean you won't be re-admitted at some later date (in fact I may extend the list to 20 people). Just keep trying to meet the criteria listed above and there is a good chance you'll get on there.

Here is the 2011 Spring BPM BlackList:

  • Bruce Silver: Bruce is the daddy of BPMN, has been in the business for years and knows BPMN like the back of his hand (he should do - he helped write it)
  • Jim Sinur: He's been with Global360 and Gartner and he is the industry analyst for the BPM sector. His writing is often formal and rigid, but that doesn't take away from the value of his contents.
  • Adam Deane: Witty, sometimes caustic, but always on the money.  Posts quite regularly. Always worth a read, especially his weekly roundup of the best BPM Quotes.
  • Sandy Kemsley: One of three women on the list. She attends and presents a lot at BPM conferences around the world and always has some useful insight into the latest movements in the BPM market. Her blog is 'Column 2'
  • The Process Ninja: He's Australian based and blogs about real-life applications of process. I look forward to his posts.
  • Connie Moore: The Forrester analyst for BPM and the other woman on the list. Finger on the pulse, covers the industry and the general BPM environment.
  • Thomas Olbrich. A German who blogs in English and German and who wrote my favourite BPM blog entry ever.
  • Keith Swenson's blog is a must-read: he writes thoughtful and informative posts on BPM and ACM (adaptive case management) that often inspire long conversations in the comments, and manages to do so without pushing his own company's products.
  • Elise Olding : Blogs with Gartner (alongside Jim Sinur). Also active in the Twitter community.
  • Max Pucher. I find his opinions and attitudes very contrary to popular thought. But that doesn't mean he's wrong. A contrary opinion is always useful for provoking discussion.
I have also added each of these people to a Twitter list. If you wish to follow this list you can find it at my Twitter account.

The list itself is available from the side bar on my blog and can be accessed directly from this link.

Reminder: 'The Perfect Process Project Second Edition' is now available. Don't miss the chance to get this valuable insight into how to make business processes work for you. Click this link and follow the instructions to get this book.

All information is Copyright (C) G Comerford
 See related info below

The most important part of BPM

After reading a couple of posts recently on 'the next big thing in BPM', and predictions about the future of the capability, I had to chuckle a little. Mainly because if history has taught us one thing - especially with BPM - it's that history is not a good indicator of things to come and most prognostications are wrong. Did anyone predict 'Social BPM'? No - at least not until it was amongst us and then the predictions were related to how it would proliferate.

So I was tickled to read details of The Hottest BPM Trends you MUST Embrace and seeing things such as 'Connecting BA to BPM to create a realistic road map for process transformation', and 'Move the needle on BPM Skills for key process roles'. Not that these are wrong - in fact these all form part of what I call 'The Common Sense Approach to BPM', but they are just that: common sense. Basically the predictions are saying 'Get the right people involved at the right time with the right training, give them the right tools and responsibility and make sure it's aligned with what the business wants'. Of course when the rubber hits the road that's when all the best laid plans go awry.

But as I was contemplating all this it occurred to me that a large amount of the prognostications and predictions, the prophecies and the trends are all missing one vital focus area: Actually doing process discovery.

It's all very well telling people that they need a great BPMS or similar system to help them manage their processes, or that they need to have a well-oiled governance process to manage the change control around them, or that they need to identify the key, customer-focused processes and use social media to help run them more efficiently. It's even fine to tell people that processes are not isolated and that they are all parts of a larger continuum. But what very few people seem to actually be telling people is 'Here is how you do good process discovery'.

Think about it. All the systems, governance, tools, expectations and roadmaps will be for nought if the process that is captured and recorded is incorrect. But do we all use good process capture methodologies? What are the good process capture methodologies? Would we know a good one if it jumped up and bit us in the face?

I've told this story before but it bears repeating:

I worked with an organisation looking to outsource part of their internal process. Prior to that they decided to bring me in to capture the process so they would know exactly which part would be taken over by the third-party company and which would stay in-house. I spent two days with the group and we went through the whole process mapping exercise. Starting with the department in question I asked them who else they spoke to as part of this process. The mentioned that they speak to Finance. I got Finance into the session. Then I went 'old-school' and started with post-it notes and brown paper on the wall. This was useful  for a number of reasons. Firstly it allowed everyone to identify what they thought was in scope for this process. Secondly it allowed everyone to identify what they did either as an individual or as a department. It basically gave me an acceptable scope to work with (I talk about the process I use in my post on 'The Art of Process Facilitation'). After about a half day we had mapped out the process as the different groups in the room felt it occurred. Then we stood back and looked at what we had created. The first big 'ah ha' came when we tried to match the Finance part of this process to the non-Finance part. There appeared to be a big discrepancy between when the department sent information to Finance and when the Finance department needed that information (The White Space, anyone?). Both groups looked across at each other as if to say 'Why didn't you tell us that before?' But it was obvious from the discussion that this wasn't a topic that had ever come up in conversation.

The result of this discussion was that not only were we able to appropriately capture the business process as it occurred inside the department but we were also able to modify it to make the flow between the departments more streamlined and efficient. This was a win-win situation for both groups. Only at that point did we turn to the process capture software we had and start to drop the tasks into there.

Appropriate process capture is key to having good processes. It doesn't matter whether you use Post-It notes and brown paper, Visio diagrams, excel spreadsheets, or if just note things down on big pieces of A3 paper, you have to have a good methodology to capture processes and you have to be thorough.

I sense (though I have no empirical data just anecdotal data from my work) that a lot of larger companies rely too much on the tool they have purchased to help them with defining the process, when in actual fact the tool will just capture the process that is entered. This may not be the correct, complete, or appropriate process.

If this is the case then I can make one prediction for 2011 and beyond: "We'll never get the full value of BPM unless we improve our process discovery methods"


Reminder: 'The Perfect Process Project Second Edition' is now available. Don't miss the chance to get this valuable insight into how to make business processes work for you. Click this link and follow the instructions to get this book.

All information is Copyright (C) G Comerford See related info below

Illusion and reality in BPM

Over the weekend I was reading through a couple of blog posts written by various BPM bloggers. One of these in particular stood out to me as it very succinctly highlighted one or two of the human nature issues that plague BPM.

The post in question was written by Keith Swenson and was entitled "Structure is in the eye of the beholder". In the post Keith talks about certain illusions that are ingrained into the human psyche which can effect the way people perceive and understand their world. This is particularly important when it comes to mapping it from a business point of view.

For example: When I look at a landscape I see the ground, the hills, the sky and the trees. There are no definite demarcation lines between each of these pieces, but when I draw them I tend to draw a line to indicate the horizon, a line to indicate the hills, and the trees are outlined to separate them from the background. In other words there us a tendency to add separation when - in reality - no separation exists. Translate this to business process and you have a situation where we try to compartmentalise things. As Keith says :

In reality activity is continuous and without distinct boundaries.  It is the mind that interprets the activity, and draws in the boundaries between different activities.  Without drawing these boundaries, it would be impossible to talk about what it being done, yet we should not forget that they are merely the result of analytical reasoning about the activity
Furthermore there is the ability of the mind in hindsight allowing us to know and understand things that we didn't know or couldn't understand at the time things were happening. This manifests itself in the form of complete knowledge and understanding of something after the fact but an inability to appropriately describe or map it during the heat of battle. With hindsight people can't understand why it was so difficult to map a process when - in fact - it was merely the fact that it was mapped and understood that made the hindsight so clear.

The summary of these two pieces of human nature is the fact that we tend to try and put artificial boundaries around things that shouldn't have them, and tend to misunderstand how complex things really are after we have mapped them by thinking that we could have done a lot of the mapping in advance.

Does this mean that our efforts at mapping processes are all for nought? Are we doomed to fall into traps set by our own human nature? Will we forever fail at being able to make sense out of the reality of our life? Well, without this turning into a philosophical treatise (and I believe it could quite easily do so) we must remember that there will never be a perfect solution for problems such as these. The key is to know that there is a potential issue and to understand what impact that will have. Human nature will always play a major part in events when humans are involved. It's the same reason why 80% of people think they are good drivers but in reality this can't be true. But we know that this is how people rate themselves because it's human nature. As long as we take this into account we will be in an appropriate position to understand the reality of a situation rather than the perceived reality of the situation.

My thanks to Keith for his insightful post.


Some housekeeping:

In one of my top posts from last year I wrote about '10 BPM Blogs you should follow'. After seeing the response to this post I have revised some of the entries following feedback and will be producing a curated list of top BPM bloggers that I am referring to as 'The BPM Blacklist'. This list will be available within the week and I will produce a post and a link to both the list, the feeds and the twitter accounts (where available)


Reminder: 'The Perfect Process Project Second Edition' is now available. Don't miss the chance to get this valuable insight into how to make business processes work for you. Click this link and follow the instructions to get this book.

All information is Copyright (C) G Comerford
See related info below