The BPM message: are we killing it with noise and jargon ?

Over the last few days I’ve had a number of conversations with professionals, clients and vendors concerned about the amount of jargon and acronyms being thrown around in the industry today. BPM, BPMS, BPMN, BPN, BPA, BPR, Simulation, Social BPM, Cloud BPM, Operational Intelligence, Business Intelligence, Process Mining, Process Discovery, Human Centric, Accelerators, Repositories, Suppositories……the list goes ever on.

Two words have emerged constantly from feedback over the course of January; simplification and education. I had a 2am iPhone email conversation with someone over Christmas who was struggling to see the value of BPM for her organisation because no-one she talked to for over 6 months gave her a straight answer. She was met with either jargon or a sales pitch. Now this poses a problem for us in general because it seems we have been preoccupied with the technical aspects of process management and the invention of new and exciting buzzwords that we’re losing the audience. People who are completely new to BPM do not understand what we’re about because the majority of vendor led documentation is levelled at the buying market such as the CTO or CIO of an enterprise and not the person struggling to improve and manage their processes at a grass roots level.

If you search on BPM in Google you’re given a list of vendors screaming for attention so of course you’re going to explore their links and read what this ‘BPM thing’ is all about. Then you’re met with a wall of technobabble that within an hour of browsing you’re exhausted and wished you’d never bothered. A newcomer doesn’t care about BPMN 3.0, they want to learn how process management can help them understand their business area in a holistic fashion, why a process works and why is doesn’t, why risk mitigation is important, how managing a company through process and not simply with IT helps etc

The problem is two-fold: vendor brochureware is aimed at the wrong people and there is very little for the absolute beginner to quickly find (without paying money !). Associations are only as good as the message they provide. The person referred to above joined a well known process organisation, reviewed their documentation and regularly attended their chapter meetings for that 6 months yet gleaned nothing that could explain why BPM is good for her company. She got some nice business cards from people though……

Is it time as analysts and professionals we offered advice and education rather than sell ? I’ve found that giving people enough to think about on the basic level to get them started was far more beneficial and rewarding that immediately selling them something. I might not get rich from it but I’ll be remembered and referred for it a lot quicker.

Is it time vendor’s changed their message so it’s readily accessible to a larger audience ? I’m already working with one to revamp their website and corporate marketing to make sure the content is pitched at the right level so there’s a recognised need.

Perhaps what’s needed is to re-educate the industry itself before we look to sending out garbled messages to our audience.

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3 responses to “The BPM message: are we killing it with noise and jargon ?

  1. Yes, and no. There is a bit of jargon warfare going on. Contributing to this are people who absolutely refuse to agree on definition. It is crazy how many times I have been told that there is no different between ACM and BPM, when I have provided definitions that clearly place them as different things. Of course, we have to come to agreement, but the simple rejection of definitions is ridiculous.

    Understand that our agreed upon reference model will NOT be simple. The model must be complex, because the subject is complex. If we can agree upon the complex model, only THEN can we come up with simpler explanations for subsets that are relevant for different fields.

    As the drivers of the industry, we need to TEACH a simplified story relevant to the listener, but we must not ourselves be fooled into thinking that the simplified story is all there is.

    http://social-biz.org/2012/04/25/not-to-praise-bpm-but-to-bury-it/

  2. Pingback: If you’re content to be lead, forever will you be a follower | BPM redux·

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