An Audience With….Connie Moore and Clay Richardson of Forrester

Clay serves Business Process & Applications professionals and is a leading expert on on business process management software, services, and methodologies. Clay delivers strategic guidance to Business Process & Applications professionals seeking to improve collaborative and operational business processes. Clay specifically helps enterprises establish BPM strategies and governance standards, establish BPM centers of excellence, identify Agile and Lean methodologies best suited for BPM projects, and identify vendors and technologies that help automate and optimize mission-critical business processes.

 

Clay is active with several BPM industry associations, including the Workflow Management Coalition, where he served as founder and co-chair of the organization’s Public Sector chapter.

 

Clay earned a B.S. in computer science from The University of South Carolina and a BPM Professional Certificate from Boston University.

 

Connie serves Business Process & Applications professionals and leads a team that provides advice and research focused on application strategy, business process management, customer relationship management, human resource management, and financial processes. Connie’s recent research efforts have focused on Lean thinking and dynamic business applications that support designing for people and building for change through the intersection of business process management, the Information Workplace, and Web 2.0.

  

Connie is the co-champion of Forrester’s 2009 Business Technology Forum with its theme of “Lean; The New Business Technology Imperative.” Connie also co-championed Forrester’s 2007 Technology Leadership Forum with the theme of “Design for People, Build for Change” and Forrester’s 2008 Technology Leadership Forum, themed as “Embrace Technology Chaos, Deliver Business Results.” Connie is a widely sought speaker. She has keynoted at many industry events, chaired 10 business process and workflow conferences in Europe and the United States, and co-chaired Giga’s “Leveraging Knowledge” conference. Connie also served as a director of AIIM International, the premier association for the content management industry and is a member of the Association of Business Process Management Professionals.

 

Connie attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and holds a B.A. in political science and history from East Carolina University and an M.B.A. in information systems from George Washington University.

 

 

2009 was seen as a fairly turbulent for most but towards the end year many kicked off major change programs focused on process transformation. How do you expect 2010 will unfold for the BPM industry generally and for BPMS Vendors ?

 

CM: We are already seeing large budgets being set aside for BPM projects in 2010 in many industries, particularly financial services, insurance, health care and government, but also telecoms, utilities and manufacturing.  This is not just a North American phenomenon but is also happening in Europe, BRIC and other places, like South Africa.  In some instances the companies aim high and are focusing on transformation, while in other instances they are trying to reduce costs.  Interestingly, some of the cost reduction isn’t through the usual suspects of lower labor costs, higher productivity, less rework, etc. (although those still count) but also a new angle that is more focused on implementing cross-functional processes and reducing the cost of application software.  Specifically, many companies we talk with want to reduce the cost of maintenance for packaged apps they do not use extensively, and eliminate packaged apps that don’t really help with the execution of cross-functional processes.  This is a new angle on cost reduction, in my experience.  And it is a powerful driver for companies that are moving into BPM this year.

 

We have data about the adoption of BPM that is very telling (view slides here).  Our data shows that BPM has crossed the chasm, or reached the tipping point, or whatever other metaphor you want to use that shows BPM has finally arrived.  We started seeing this trend toward the mainstreaming of BPM about 3 years ago when companies began to see that BPM would be critical to helping them implement their SOA strategy, or more precisely, would help them bring their SOA strategy into an execution environment.  This momentum has continued, and now the economic situation has propelled BPM even further.   

 

CR: For the past two years, our annual survey of IT decision makers in North America and Europe highlighted BPM as #1 in adoption and interest against other software categories, including SOA, cloud, and open source.  Additionally, we took the pulse of process professionals in early 2009 to see how BPM budgets were holding up.  Surprisingly, we found that most process professionals reported BPM budgets holding steady throughout 2009 – only 19% reported drastic budget reductions for their BPM initiatives. Now that we’re creeping out of the recession, 2010 budgets for BPM are beginning to thaw first, since executives see process improvement as a key tool for controlling costs and boosting revenue. 

 

CM: There’s been a lot of handwringing about IBM buying Lombardi and Progress buying Savvion along the lines of “it’s all over for the pure-plays.”  Nothing could be further from the truth.  There is so much room for innovation in BPM that pure-plays and even new start ups (CR: – like Serena Software, BP Logix, and Outsystems) will have a lot of room to flourish.  And the biggest pure-play  left—Pegasystems—is in a great place for growth.  Pegasystems, which would have been bought long ago if the CEO and Founder had wanted it, enjoys very committed customers and prospects, sells into the top ranks of corporate executives, and owns a very strong story with its combination of business rules, BPM suite and customer service software.  Other IT companies, like TIBCO and Software AG, for example, have a lot of room for growth too, particularly if they differentiate through analytics, master data management and other software functionality that expands BPM suites beyond today’s fairly narrow constraints.   All BPMS vendors have lots of room to grow with advances in social BPM, SaaS-based BPM, plus new advances in discovery and case management, as well as integrating data and process, and providing community building for skills sharing.  Plus, I have long believed that business process management will spill out of its “process” bounds by focusing on more than the immediate process. What do I mean by that?  What if the software started with strategic planning and worked down from that and eventually got into collections of related processes that support the strategic plan and eventually the business uses the software to start planning the resources needed to execute the processes.  This is

ultimately where BPM is headed, leaving so much room for
virtually every vendor to innovate.  BPM is still a very young market.

 

There was a succession of acquisitions between larger vendors in 2009 and the beginning of 2010, do you think there’ll be more M&A activity this year and what’s your take on it’s affect on the general market for clients ?

 

CM: Yes, there will be M&A activity, but I think it will be less about BPM vendor buying a smaller BPM vendor, and more about buying the piece parts needed to innovate a vendor’s BPM suite.  Some of the acquisitions could be in social tools, visualization, analytics, data quality and possibly even smaller content vendors (as BPM vendors seek to move into case management.)  

 

CR: Additionally, we expect to see acquisitions by new players looking to increase their profile and footprint in the BPM space.

 

You recently said in an article Forrester will be turning to the process professionals more in 2010 and Gartner’s Magic Quadrant underwent a makeover in how they approached their analysis last year. Do you still see a need for the kind of high brow research which is perceived to be vendor led/ driven given the rise of independent professional blogs and insight columns ?

 

Our clients crave more help with BPM initiatives and in building their BPM skills in-house.  Our research going forward will tilt more toward helping business process professionals with BPM skills building and implementations (while not going into management consulting land!)  Clients want help, for example, figuring out how to justify BPM investments, how to staff a BPM center of excellence, and how to train their business analysts to become process analysts.  This is the kind of advice we provide.  While technology remains our core competency and at the center of what we do, the hard part about BPM projects isn’t technology—it’s all the other pieces, like knowing the right methodology to use, when to use it, how to bridge (and even transform) the divide between IT and the business and so forth.  Our goal is to help business process professionals succeed in their jobs and their careers.

 

There’s been growing mention towards the lack of interest in the BPM conference circuit run by the likes of IQPC and analyst firms, partly due to costs associated with them given the economy but also largely due to the same messages, speakers and ‘insight’ repeated year on year. How do you envisage changing this perception and improving on the content or format ?

 

CM: I think too many of the BPM conferences plow the same ground over and over again.  I challenge the BPM “industry” to start looking beyond the traditional boundaries of a structured process.  In many ways we need to reinvent BPM or shake it up, and that idea is beginning to percolate more and more as change comes to the BPM market (e.g.  SaaS, mashups, analytics, community-based discovery, Sharepoint, to name a few.)

 

At our Forums, we’ve always looked at a bigger picture than just BPM, but BPM has always been front and center.  For example, three years ago our forum theme was “Design For People, Build For Change.”  That was such a powerful conference because it was about more than plain old BPM implementations.  And last year our theme was about Lean, and how to Transform IT into Business Technology.  Once again, a very powerful idea with BPM at the core, but a much larger canvas for us to paint on.  I don’t know what our theme will be this year, but I do know that our BPM Forum will be October 6-8 in Washington DC. (My home town.)  Hope you’ll make it!

 

CR: Most practitioners attend BPM conferences with very specific questions about how to succeed at BPM.  Unfortunately, most conferences focus on introducing the technology and basic principles of BPM.  Forrester’s Forums typically focus on helping attendees develop an action plan for success. For example, at our Business Technology Forum last year, I presented a keynote on “Forge Your Game Plan for Lean Process Improvement”.

 

The keynote provided attendees with a diagnostic to evaluate whether their BPM initiatives were bloated, lean, or anemic. Then, the keynote went on to outline a gameplan for whipping your process initiative in shape based on your key value drivers and strategic objectives. 

 

We also experimented last month with delivering virtual conferences via Cisco’s telepresence technology.  This was very cool, since it allowed attendees to participate from all over the globe without having to travel.

Attendees could pop over to their closest Cisco telepresence site to attend – or in the case of some attendees, use their company’s on-site telepresence environment.  Based on the success of our first telepresence event, we plan to offer additional events like this going forward. 

 

You’ve both been analysts for many years now, what’s made you stick to that side of the industry for so long ?

 

CM: This job never gets old, not even for the briefest period of time, because there’s so  much change.  For starters, I’ve been working for BIS Strategic Decisions/Giga Information Group/Forrester Research since Columbus Day 1990 without changing employer, but I’ve gone through 3 companies and two acquisitions along the way.  That in itself makes for an interesting career.  Layered on top is the fact that the technology keeps changing and business ideas keep changing—making this a veritable laboratory for ideas.

More than anything, what makes me stick is that the ideas we encounter every day—whether it is with a client inquiry or something we are researching—are so compelling and so interesting and sometimes just so complex that it’s hard to think of anything else I’d rather be doing.  

 

Being an analyst is a fantastic job, and being an analyst at a well run company like Forrester is a dream come true.

 

CR: It’s kind of funny, I met Connie over 5 years ago when I was on the other side.  At the time, I worked for HandySoft – a BPM Suite vendor based in Northern Virginia – and met Connie during a BPM Wave evaluation she was leading.  When I first met Connie, I thought “People get paid to evaluate and critique software? Sounds like a neat job…”  Little did I know 5 years later…

 

What’s your definition and philosophy for BPM ?

 

CM: We are very careful to always describe BPM as a discipline for continuously improving cross-functional processes that add value to the customer, rather than using BPM to describe software.

 

CR: For a while I preferred the term &
amp;
ldquo;business process improvement” over “b
usiness process management”, since the former does not automatically imply software. Over the past few years, I’ve become comfortable with the term “BPM” once again, but still find I need to clarify myself that I’m focused on the discipline, not the technology.  At Forrester, we use the term BPM suite when we are specifically referring to software.  It’s important that business process professionals never assume that all BPM projects will require software or automation – sometimes process improvement might involve changing compensation schemes or upgrading end user skills.  The most important thing to keep in front of you is “How can we improve the KPI?”  Asking this question throughout process improvement projects often uncovers interesting and unexpected responses.

 

If there was one thing you could tell someone who is just starting out on the BPM journey what would it be ?

 

CM: Go look at how people really work.  Not just the sequential stuff they do, but what they really do to get the job done.  Do they go to meetings?  Check—then that’s part of the process.  Do they talk on the phone? Check—then that’s part of the process. Do they make financial decisions based on judgment? Check—then that’s part of the process.  The structured world of work that we have obsessed about with BPM is only a percentage of what people really do, and frankly it is so limiting.  BPM isn’t only about automating the structured work—it should be about transforming the very nature of work.  Plus I think a new person starting out should have a philosophy or world view about BPM—I just shared mine in the preceding sentence.

 

CR: Process improvement is a marathon, not a sprint.  I started running several years ago and have worked my way up to half-marathons.  The greatest lesson I learned training for my first half-marathon was to focus on the race one mile at a time.  When you deal with the race one mile at a time, you can set a pace that makes sense for you and your own personal goals – and you can also adjust your pace based on how you’re feeling after each mile.  Process pros would do well to take this same approach.  Realize that your first BPM project won’t be your best and that you can always adjust as you move along to the next project.  The key is to develop a “continual process improvement” mindset towards your BPM initiative – constantly look for opportunities to improve and tailor your process improvement methodology to fit the needs and goals of your organization.  

 

Also, keeping with the marathon analogy: remember to hydrate!

  

What’s your take on the number of vendors jumping on the ‘Social BPM’ scene ?

 

CM: I think quite often they don’t really know what they are talking about and are just using a trendy topic to sell more product.  I’m glad that Social BPM is getting people excited.  I think what we are really talking about is a lot more than Social BPM.  It’s about putting all the worlds of work together—collaboration, structured process and straight through process—and social doesn’t really get at that idea fully in my opinion. But if this is what it takes to get people looking at ad hoc work and structured work in the same view, then it makes me happy.  Theo, I like the way you have framed Social BPM as a possible change in how processes emerge as a grassroots approach takes hold.  I think that is very interesting and worth a much larger discussion.

 

CR: We first uncovered this trend towards social BPM in the “Forrester TechRadar™ For BP&A Pros: Business Process Management Suites, Q3 2009” report, published in August 2009.  The report highlighted the merging of Web 2.0 and BPM functionality into new and interesting categories, such as process mashups and process wikis.  Of course the social BPM term is sexy and many vendors are trying to morph their capabilities to fit the emerging and evolving definition of social BPM.  However, I’ve only seen a few firms that can credibly claim full-on social capabilities for their BPM environment – Software AG’s ArisAlign and Lombardi’s BluePrint are the two that come to mind. 

 

There’s been a wide range of comments made in the interviews about what people would like to see happen next in BPM, ranging from Virtual World integration, Education, Simplification….What’s the next big thing you’d like to see happen in BPM, whether technical or business related ?

 

CM: I would like for BPM to follow the money behind a process and become a tool for senior executives to plan and manage their business.  If we take a top down perspective of running a company, how would you allocate money to which resource and how would that impact your processes?  I think this would completely transform how we do work in organizations.

 

CR: For BPM to be declared a wild success, it will need to deliver on its original promise to empower business stakeholders to define, scope, and deliver process improvement with minimal support from IT.  In its next incarnation, I see BPM evolving into a platform and methodology that supports full-lifecycle collaboration for process improvement – supporting collaboration between business and IT across all phases of BPM projects.  Currently, most BPM initiatives still take a “toss it across the wall” approach between IT and Business stakeholders.  Ultimately, I see this wall coming down and a blurring of the lines between business and technology roles that collaborate on process projects – and BPM suites will need to evolve to support this new business-led paradigm.

 

Finally, what next for Forrester ? 

 

My team at Forrester is going to drive full-bore, full-tilt into providing BPM advice and assistance to our clients in 2010.  This will include building a community of BPM practitioners and developing yet another world class BPM-centric forum that looks at the world of process broadly.  I have already built an ace team in BPM and business domains like CRM, PLM, and ERP—and we just welcomed Derek Miers today as a new principal analyst at Forrester.  We are going to turn that team loose this year; I can’t wait to see what happens.  Thanks!

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One response to “An Audience With….Connie Moore and Clay Richardson of Forrester

  1. Very informative. I was wondering if you had any comments on how to manage BPM initiatives where there are communities within an enterprise. Clay and I worked together at PPC. At the time I was working BPM for the US Patent and Trademark Office. I feel the current tools do not adequately address BPM and governance where there exists communities of users. These communities basically do the same thing, but have very specific data needs. Examples of this problem is well-known. The US Patent office is an example where there are communities of examiners who process patents concerning different disciplines like electronics, biology and genetics. Many large retail chains and government agencies also fall into this category.I’ve written a paper on a Process Oriented Architecture (POA). This is similar to SOA but addresses the re-use and governance issues that plague large scale BPM initiatives. I feel the current tools for governing services for SOA are very different than those for processes. Griffin Macy (Case-LLC) and Dirk Jackson (Oracle) are co-authors on this paper.The paper can be downloaded at http://www.ssglimited.com/What are your viewpoints on this issue? Have you run into these problems with your clients?

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