When thinking BPM consider your MDM: why business and IT DO need to work together


Data. It’s everywhere. Pervasive. And bloody annoying to control.

With more BPM vendors moving towards empowering business users with the ability to create process enabled applications with simplified interfaces and less reliance on IT and Systems Analysts there’s a potential disaster waiting in the wings and it’s this: at the heart of any process there’s a certain amount of data in use, whether existing customer or product related information called via a service or data collection which needs to be placed within the infrastructure and stored against the customer record.

By allowing the business community to run riot by creating small or complex workflow applications via BPM tools there’s a danger that the data governance of an enterprise will be overrun and hard to control and maintain. Not only this but with Master Data Management (MDM) rearing it’s head (ugly or not) as an evolution of the old Single Customer View strategy will we need to rein in the business until a cohesive strategy has been created that allows BPM and MDM to co-exist ?

And then what needs to come first ? 

MDM ? BPM ? Both at the same time ?

Implement BPM and workflow on flaky data and you’re asking for trouble in the long run.

Will we need to reconsider carefully the BPM Centre of Excellence model so that it contains Process and Data Stewards ?

In which case, this negates the arguments that BPM is purely a business activity and that we do need IT after all, just perhaps not in the way we thought of before.



4 responses to “When thinking BPM consider your MDM: why business and IT DO need to work together

  1. It’s easy to see why it’s important to have an organizations data architecture in place & intact, and data that’s accurate. In order to have a well-knit end-to-end BPM approach to work one is going to rely on analytics and monitoring to close the loop towards optimization. And unless one is looking at a well organized data, it’s really a shaky ground.But one also needs to look at the process aspects at a different level and not associate directly with the term applications while talking about process solutions. My little post on that – http://wp.me/pN8i1-4tOn Enterprise level initiatives with much larger plans, I agree MDM, BPM, SOA, and everything would need to be well drawn out on canvas before teams starts filling colors in. How many implementations of such broad nature do we see that have BPM label against them though? Therein also lies another quandary as to where (as in what stage) do we link BPM with MDM. The label BPM may not have been applied to the implementation by the time one should be drawing the lines… http://wp.me/pN8i1-3f

  2. I agree – Why have systems if they are not repositories of authoritative data. Business-only processes leads to an explosion of stove-pipe processes as evidenced by SharePoint. For anyone to suggest the end of IT involvement is the equivalent is saying BPM or SOA are dead. Such provocative points have been used effectively to stimulate interesting debate, but they are not valid marketing positions. As you noted, the role of IT and Business in co-developing process is evolving along with technology. BPMS is making it increasingly easy for business to drive process development, which is great, but it will be a while yet before IT becomes a useless appendage. I don’t see how anyone who has ever built even a mildly complex process could honestly suggest otherwise.

  3. Good post Theo,We’ve been referring to this combination of BPM and MDM as "process data management". This is definitely a challenging area we’re hearing from business process professionals and I’ve seen this challenge first hand across numerous BPM projects. Last fall, Rob Karel (Forrester Analyst covering MDM) and I published the first in a three part series on synchronizing BPM and MDM initiatives: http://fwd4.me/8xd. Also, here’s a link to the blog post introducing the topic: http://fwd4.me/8xo. Nice to see other voices weighing in on the conversation.Cheers,Clay

  4. Pingback: Data and Process – at the Altar in Europe?·

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