Sunday, July 01, 2007

Take-aways from BPM-Forum session

Recently I visited a session of the Dutch BPM-Forum (, where a dutch Insurance company talked about the implementation of a BPM tool (in this case for a claims handling process.

Some key take-aways:

1. In the experience of the insurance company, in the end, the tools were NOT the issue. Most time was spent on understanding processes.
In my view, this is essential. Many vendors claim that their tools can do magic. Well, sure, but you still need a lot of work trying to understand and correctly model the processes. Business analysis is a key skill that you need in a BPM project, so be carefull with BPM projects run as an IT powerplay.

2. They understood that the processes they were trying to model, where too difficult to define in a sequential flow model. There were too many exceptions and possible events with unpredictable timing. They decide to take a Case management approach.

A great pictore from vd Aalst (professor on BPM at Technical University of Eindhoven, The Netherlands) that was used:

Also see:

My lesson: start with processes, and be very aware of the complexity. Don't use a modelling tool to understand the processes (because it will make you see reality through the limitations of the tool), but first seek to understand more freely. Then make the call if this is sequential/decision stuff or more complex event-based/collaboration based stuff, and pick the right tool for modelling and execution for that.

3. Essential for the business case, was the ability to use existing functionality. They found ways to abstract and use services provided by the legacy system. This allows them to use current investments, while opening the possibility (through the abstraction) to stepwise replace legacy with new technology, as long as it delivers the same service.

4. A good strategy was the focus on external partners. Part of the strategy, from the start, was the ability to integrate (from a process and BPM-suite) perspective with events and processes from and to other players in the service chain.

5. They kept Content solution and Process solution separate (but did integrate it).

In my opinion important. Currently some businesses invest heavily in ECM solutions and take a document-centric approach to process, implementing process in the ECM tool. In my view, documents are a temporary solution for information exchange. So, base your proces engine on proces, and let it integrate with information providers, including unstructured/ECM suppliers.

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