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Brace Yourself-Another Game Changer

Peter explained his approach: “For us, it’s a bit of a mix, depending on the opportunity. In some cases we have the in-house experience. But sometimes we partner with SIs to deliver the solution. It’s very difficult to have full industry knowledge across many industries, so we partner when we need to,” he said.

Craig agreed. “That’s how SIs work; they tend to organize along industry verticals.”

Ken quickly added, “The other thing coming to the forefront is the understanding of the many ways people work! Process styles vary greatly; there is the straight-through process style on one extreme, and on the other extreme is a more creative process which has no structure around it,” he explained. “You need to provide tools that support both of those styles, and everything in between. With a suite of tools at your disposal, you need to decide which set of capabilities can effectively support a particular style of work. You need to determine early-on which ‘style’ you have.”

Ken elaborated: “There are a lot of fuzzy requirements at first. We usually start with a data model and taxonomy—we start with information. It is then a more iterative approach, where you capture information and data and make changes to that application over time. The more people who use it, the better you can plot and understand the work patterns as they appear. That can allow you to decide how to better standardize and automate processes or tasks that take place repeatedly. So on top of the vertical industry expertise, you need to understand the style in which work is currently being done,” Ken said.

It was beginning to sound as though there is a balancing act going on between the business-line managers who rely on technology, and the technology masters who must provide it. Where does IT get involved?

Craig grabbed up that one. “In the ideal world, business should be driving all the decision making. They’re the ones that are on the hook to deliver, and they’re the ones who need to meet service goals, and to do it all with the best success and the least cost. But the reality is, all this technology has to be supported by somebody. And IT has an agenda to simplify, streamline, consolidate and keep the number of vendors to a minimum. To a certain extent, there’s tension between the two parts of the organization,” he said. “Probably that’s a good thing—you don’t want one side to completely control the decision-making process. You need to balance the support costs against the tendency for business departments to react in silos, and run off and buy different packages.”

Going Mobile

It wouldn’t be 2014 if I didn’t ask the group about the impact that mobile is having on their industries. I hadn’t planned on it, but it occurred to me that—like all business endeavors—a dispersed and out-of-office workforce would have an effect on BPM and case management. They don’t stay down at the farm anymore.

For a second, all I heard was crickets chirping. Then Peter took a plunge. “I don’t think so. All the BPM platforms work equally on the traditional desktop as well as on smartphones or tablets. Where the knowledge work is shouldn’t really matter,” he said. “If it does matter to the application, then you have a problem. As workers become more mobile, the process should be able to find them; they shouldn’t have to look for the process.”

Looking for the process. I like that. That’s what everyone is doing, though. Part of the looking is becoming educated on the various options and opportunities that are just now emerging in the case management and BPM space. The following pages encapsulate a good start. Read and understand how today’s organizations are starting to balance the 90% against the 10%, and finding successes and not-so-successes in their search.

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