While on an extremeeeely long flight back from New York to San Francisco (which has become more routine lately), I started reflecting back on the Business Process Excellence – for Financial Services Conference I recently attended. While small as events go (only about a hundred or so people), it was rich with a sense of purpose and community – more JAD session than conference. As a result, the event developed into a rally point for CIO’s, VP’s of Business Improvement/Excellence, and Process practitioners on how to lead their organizations to the promised land of unequaled business performance and value delivery. This created a dynamic environment that yielded some new insights compelling enough to write about in this blog.
Just before the start of the conference, myself and two incredibly talented colleagues, Pete Smerald and Bob Bimm conducted a three-hour workshop (yeah sounds long, but could have easily been three days based on what we covered) on BPM trends and best practices. The audience was well indoctrinated in the principles of Lean Six Sigma process improvement and focused on defect reduction, pure process (data driven) optimization and dashboard reporting. When it came to technology, it was clear they all had been “conditioned” by analysts and other industry zealots who profess a clear separation between BPM and ECM. Concepts that pertained to information, (its management, governance, and ties to compliance) were almost completely foreign to them. Consequently, their lense was extremely narrow when it came to approaching business problems – exclusively process. I’ve encountered this dynamic before in countless client and analyst engagements over the years – which makes it inherently difficult to introduce new approaches to process improvement and business transformation. However, despite their apparent inflexibility, you could tell the audience believed there was more to process improvement (they obviously knew the Earth wasn’t flat), but they just couldn’t put their finger on it.
Breakthrough – A New Way
A shift in thinking started to occur when we focused the discussion on the larger business problems and initiatives that are the life blood of financial organizations – lending, claims processing, new account opening, dispute resolution, etc.. We discussed how process, content and governance all intersect and need to coalesce to deliver a superior customer experience – what we call Case Management. The conversation was no longer about a choice between BPM or ECM technology (the religious war) but rather a new approach to drive the next wave of business and process performance. It was about how a deeper understanding and infusion of information (the context) and stitching compliance within the very fabric of business processes could drive significant improvements in waste elimination (cost and efficiency), better decisions, and reduced risk. This then quickly led to delivering true value innovation – creating new growth vectors for the business – new products, services, etc….the real engine for competitive advantage. So, once we did away with the technology shackles of choosing between this or that, you could immediately see a new way of thinking start to develop – a compelling transformation of a different kind.
This elevated thinking was extended to the larger audience during Forrester’s Connie Moore keynote session at the event. She challenged everyone to not just improve but rather transform the way business is done. While she touched on various themes and best practices, her principal argument and recommendations centered around Dynamic Case Management (DCM), and how it maximizes process improvement and service delivery. It was not positioned as yet another technology choice but rather (rightfully so) an elevated form of BPM and ECM – a convergence best positioned to solve today’s most pressing business challenges. Her argument became even more compelling when she highlighted how this competitive advantage becomes magnified when you add innovations in Social, Mobile and Big Data to this equation. At the end, it was clear that Connie made an indelible impression on the audience – based on the amount of discussion during the Q&A and continuous references to DCM (by attendees) throughout the event.
For more information on Case Management, I’d recommend the following analyst perspectives:
- Connie Moore – VP & Research Director, Forrester Research – Value of Case Management (See Analyst Video) http://www.emc.com/products/family/documentum-xcp-family.htm
- Craig Le Clair, Sr. Analyst Forrester Research & Connie Moore – Dynamic Case Management – An Old Idea Catches New Fire (See Related Materials – will require creating an account to access report) http://www.emc.com/products/family/documentum-xcp-family.htm
- Jim Sinur – VP Gartner Research – Building Case-based Solutions (Video): http://www.emc.com/collateral/demos/microsites/mediaplayer-video/gartner-research-on-building-case-based-solutions.htm
- The Forrester Wave Dynamic Case Management Report (See Analyst Report, will require creating account to get full report) http://www.emc.com/collateral/microsites/2010/xcp/index.htm?pid=prod_bpm-xcp-020811
- Brian Babineau, VP Research & Analyst Services- Case Management Automation (Report) http://www.emc.com/collateral/microsites/2010/xcp/assets/ESG-WP-EMC-Advance-Case-Management-Compliance-Sep-10.pdf
As participant, it was exciting to see how this revelation was generating a new level energy and innovation. An evolution steeped in strategy and thought, not technology. What I experienced at BPE is a microcosm of what it sometimes encountered in the marketplace – limited and secular/silo’d thinking (encouraged within the organizations and by some industry pundits). At best, this can only lead to realizing only a fraction of the value available to us as business and process improvement professionals – worst case, abject failure. Understanding the case concept and its value is the first step on the path to seizing the full potential of business and process transformation. All it takes is an open, creative and pragmatic approach (the common ingredients to make business transformation real and sustainable) – a transformation of thought.
I would love to hear your thoughts, perspectives and experiences on this topic – Let’s keep the conversation going.