Is this the end of the BPM Centre of Excellence ?


Here’s a Tuesday morning thought: with [Social] BPM creating a wave through the process space, removing silos and increasing collaboration in the enterprise does this mean that specialised and centralised functions like a CoE should no longer exist ?

There are two trains of thought at play. In recent interviews on Redux, Vinay Mummigati of Virtusa said “A BPM center of excellence (COE) is an absolute must for organizations planning to adopt BPM across the enterprise. As companies adopt BPM in more than a single department they often start seeing challenges in terms of standardization, scalability, performance and governance.

And yet there was a completely different perspective taken by Max J Pucher of ISIS Papyrus who stated “…if there is one thing that [Social] BPM could knock down, it is the Process Center of Excellence and the related bureaucracy overhead!

As a supporter of what the social and flexible concepts can achieve from an internal organisational structural perspective I have to side with Max’s view. There are increasing levels of collaboration and communication at stake that involve a lot more people than previously would have been invited to participate, so therefore why create a centralised function full of specific roles and ‘experts’ when what we’re trying to prove with [Social] BPM is the exact opposite ?

The two ideals are actually opposed to each other when you think on it this way. So what do we do about this ? There is an argument that depending on the BPM maturity level of an organisation that creating a CoE would still be valid but then it’s lifespan would still be finite once the social paradigm has been embraced and creating another silo shouldn’t really be a goal. What perhaps we need to think on is how [Social] BPM can create a more fluid entity consisting of many participants rather than purely those with a process background. Innovation and creativity involves more than just singular skills.

So is the notion of a BPM CoE short lived as we move towards breaking down the internal enterprise barriers with communication and collaboration ?

I’ll stick my neck out and say, Yes…..


6 responses to “Is this the end of the BPM Centre of Excellence ?

  1. I disagree. A BPM CoE supports more functions than just the modelling collaboration in an organization and ensures that the created models in a process / enterprise architecture are up to par with the standards defined for the organization.One example (and I know you will agree 😉 is the use of a standard modelling notation. If the organization for example decides to use BPMN it is very likely that there will be a reduction of available objects for different user groups since the standard is confusing to the average user (to say at least). However, from a tool vendor perspective you will get the full notation support, so that the CoE has to define what shall be the standard in the organization to make sure that the created models are comparable and the model readers only have to learn one way of reading the models.Other BPM services a CoE might provide is quality assurance, training, a centralized report repository, etc. In addition to this the CoE should act as the hub of all communication around process / EA design, so that there is a central place users can go to if they need information about BPM. The CoE intranet site should also be *the* place to find the latest "official" version of the process/EA architecture in a published version according to the process/EA development release schedule.Social BPM functionality -like in ARISalign- is just a helper in the overall effort of an organization to get BPM implemented and sustained to realize the business value that once got the BPM initiative started – which I really like and love to see in the BPM tool. Letting go the BPM governance provided by a CoE puts the overall BPM goal in danger.

  2. Theo,No matter how much freedom, Innovation, creativity, collaboration we want in the business organization, a system, governance, and little bit of structure is still needed. I will refer to the other post of yours on Start Tack Enterprise today itself. You want all those silo-ed ship to go in one direction, how would that happen without some bit of governance and structure? (Okay call these requirements something else if these words are becoming taboos, but can we throw them out, will anarchy be the norm?)The real organizations have smart people, but we also have 5 average followers for every exceptional, self-driven member/leader (throwing a number but the point is there are people who need direction). And it’s not just managerial governance. If the answers to the following questions can be "NO" in the social paradigm, then as well COEs may cease to exist in any form…- Every individual comes up and learns by oneself, no best practices are needed, they all collaborate and learn on the fly and do the right thing (from a person just out of school to the data guy & process guy who for some reason don’t like talking to each other :)- Architecture will evolve the right way without the need for an agreed upon enterprise architecture blue-print- All the technological components needed will become mashable, and plug&play. Individuals can decide by themselves what they want to use with collaborative decision making- Central planning will not be required for any size of programs. Project Managers of individual streams would be able to meet over a collaboration platform and devise the plan without one entity primarily accountable for the program- BPM will indeed become purely process and no technological development required. Plug-&-Play redux- Competency Development and talent management would cease to be important. Wikis will be the omni-potent platform for self-learning with no specific planning required on how many skills of what type would be needed for the BPM initiatives- Business will be the de-facto owner of the process initiatives. Collaboration would work like a magic wand and all the gaps will disappear with the social networking making huge impactIf the above is possible, we wouldn’t need COEs (and these are just high level scenarios, there are plenty more). I don’t see that happening for at least the foreseeable future :)COEs may become more decentralized and could be a combination of various flavors/patterns that I have covered in my earlier post –'t call them COE if the phrase stinks, but Competency Management, Platform Planning and Governance, Project Pipeline Management, Demand Management, Financial Charge-back Mechanism, Standards & Guidelines, best practices, and need for incremental improvement on BPM program delivery would still continue in "some form"… and there are more things that COE does…- Ashish

  3. I am in between both views. I think it depends on how structured or on how undpredictable the processes are. I can imagine that in case of strongly structured processes – as we have learned in the past 2 yeras only 20% are – the CoE will help ever. The stuff´s skill can/will be low, so the need of help is intrinsic. In environments, where the processes are unpredictable you will find highly responsible an creative "Case Manager" with strong sklills. They may be able to organize themselves on behalf of social software.

  4. My response actually ended up in a post – I need to start charging my blogging time to Theo now 🙂 :),Ashish

  5. Pingback: Social BPM and Social Enterprise Transformation roundup #socialbpm #bpm #socialenterprise | BPM redux·

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