Agenda des Netzwerk-Treffens

On 22 May 2008 we (the local BPM Expert Circle of the Gesellschaft für Organisation and the local BPM-Network) had a joint meeting at the Resco GmbH in Hamburg, Germany. The roundtable with approximately 30 participants was moderated by Jörg Rodenhagen, I had been invited as a speaker. The topic of the evening: Chances and limits of the BPMN.

BPMN Diskussion

As You can see in the agenda, the idea was to start a discussion based on my lecture (even though, according to the flipchart the sandwiches were apparently the highlight of the evening), especially against the background of BPMN’s ambition to close the gap between Business and IT. The discussion was lively and open, and the atomsphere relaxed, which is, in my opinion, the best basis to learn from and with each other.

Accordingy, we came to some interesting results.

BPMN Rollen

Jörg presented two central questions (as You can see on the pictures) for capturing the participant’s opinions. In the first place, scarcely anybody believed that the top-management can handle the BPMN. Also non-technical business operators are not really believed to accept it. The IT managers on the other hand seem to be the primary target group of BPMN, followed by IT developers. Quality Management and Controlling again tend to be unsuitable.

BPM Rollen

In this context, we got the consensus that new methods like BPMN must lead to a development of new roles and occupational images of people who are located between business and IT (see also my slide about BPM Roles).

BPMN Zwecke

On the other flipchart You can see that right now only few people use the BPMN for process automation, but only for the pure process documentation and for the coordination between business and IT. This propably contradicts the original objective of BPMN, but is not surprising given the fact of a non-existent meta model for BPMN and no standardized sufficient mapping to execution languages like BPEL, which is one reason why virtually no BPM-Suite in the field supports it for direct represenations of technical workflows.

BPMN Forderungen

After a while there was a general skepticism dominating the discussion about BPMN. While some felt that the notation is to complicated for non-technical professionals, others still criticised a lack of precision which is necessary for process automation. As a result, wie collected some ideas and proposals about what has to be done to close the Business-IT-Gap. It quickly become clear that our thoughts were not solely related to process notations, so we started to cluster them by demands on people, methods and tools (see picture).

Because we were running out of time, we soon had to cancel this gathering and the discussion. We finally still had no consensus on the BPMN, because in addition to the skeptics, there were also BPMN supporters who felt that regardless of the notation, the Business-IT-Gap can only shrink if both Business und IT are willing to learn and to deal with new methods. Despite this disagreement we got a very positive feedback from the participants, because serveral new information were taught, new ideas had emerged and the obligatory networking had worked as well. At his point, again my very warm “Thank You” to the Resco GmbH for the hospitality and especially to Jörg for the excellent moderation.

My personal conclusion

BPM Fraktionen

I am personally a big fan of BPMN, but of course I am aware of the various difficulties You have to face when You are applying it. As the round in Hamburg consisted only of practicioners (mostly consultants), I had not expected to meet the BPMN euphoria I experience when discussing it with academics. But I was very happy that both IT- and Business-Consultants were well presented, which was the reason for the polarized critcsm on BPMN being either to complicated (Business) or not precisely enough (IT), which is of course contradictory (complexity is a direct result of precision).

BPM Perspektive

My personal opinion is that a notation that exists for modeling technical workflows, let them be human interaction or service orchestration workflows, can not be less complex than the BPMN currently is. In this respect, the business can not avoid to deal with it. But, as mentioned before, this will not cause people to change – an old dog does not learn any new tricks, is a German saying. Instead, the people will change, which means that new people with a different way of thinking and training will increasingly dominate the areas of companies where IT-supported business processes must be managed.

camunda Puzzle Mann

But this is only one construction site amongst many others. Nobody denies that BPMN alone with it’s focus on the control flow is not sufficient to close the gap between Business and IT completely. Another site, for example, is the subject of Business Rules, or the management of the orginizational structure with it’s various roles and relationships, which has to be considered when automazing business processes. Nevertheless BPMN is a neccessary and extremely important element in this big puzzle that we just put together.

If You are interested in the (German!) slides, please contact me directly: