In an excellent blog by Neil Ward-Dutton of MWD he laments the lack of progress in improving business processes.  In fact his example of a typical project, which has changed little since the 1990’s goes likes this:

* Someone senior decides that a process needs to be improved.

* A group of specialists (process analysts, business analysts, whatever) conducts an analysis exercise. Cue much walking around with clipboards, making notes.

* Time passes.

* Workshops and interviews are organised where processes are mapped out on large sheets of brown paper.

* A team writes a large requirements document.

* Time passes.

* The organisation starts to procure one or more packaged applications and/or carry out some custom software integration work.

* Time passes.

* More time passes.

* At some point, a date arrives. The project is declared finished.

Sadly his view of BPM/BPR/BPI is absolutely true in 80-90% of organisations, and in 100% of organisations that have engaged one of the Big4 consulting organisations.

There are glimmers of hope as we are now seeing major organisations (Nestle, HSBC, Chevron, Unilever, CarphoneWarehouse (video) taking a different approach and getting the results they deserve.

So what is different?

It now goes like this:

– mapping in live workshops = speed and end user engagement
– mapping with end user as intended audience (not IT) = useable content & end user engagement
– content (processes & supporting info) available to every employee via web or mobile device = making end users 20%+ more efficient
– an application (rather than a tool) to capture, deploy, and manage the changes to the content   [‘application’ as it is used long term, tool is only used on a project] = governed content
– the content has multiple uses  – training, performance measurement, compliance, business improvement = reduced cost of compliance

What is most disappointing is that if the effort of documenting processes in Visio was used instead to document using this new approach would be NO EXTRA EFFORT and a FAR GREATER RETURN.  We have client after client tell us that.  In fact they spend millions of dollars vs the free copies Visio. Why? Because they get a staggering ROI.


What is this application called?  It is NOT a BPA (Business Process Analysis) tool. BPA tools are used by Enterprise Architects  to deliver the 1990’s approach described above.  A BPMS (Business Process Management Suite) is about automating the processes.

In discussion with Ian Leaver from ForwardLook he sees the collective term for this breed of application is still emerging and based on his research there are already vendors out there delivering staggering results  – BusinessGenetics, IBM Blueworks and Nimbus Control to name just 3.  And the conservative estimates for the marketplace for software alone is over $15bn.

Some terms being used are User Centric Process Management, BPA for the masses, Social BPM, Business Optimization Management.    For me the closest to describing what it is seems to be User Centric Process Management. BPA for Masses draws us back to the bad old days of BPA, SocialBPM already has too many connotations and expectations, and Business Optimization doesn’t do what is says on the tin. But I am not hung up on the term.

So once we understand what it is called, more people can ask for it.  So for now lets just agree to call it UCPM?


2 thoughts on “User Centric Process Management… and new $15bn market? #bpm

  1. Hi Ian,

    Fantastic post…

    There has been much talk on how BPMN is innapropriate for business users – and this trend really seeks to hit at the heart of that problem. So far, the industry is just plugging the word ‘social’ in front of BPM as a magical solution!

    I’d love you to take a look at the Knowledge Genes site:

    Feel free to email me if you’d like to chat on this.

    Keep up the good work!

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