Sebastian Stein's picture

Some weeks ago, my fellow colleague Roland (@rolandwoldt) pointed me to the book “Getting Real”  written by the well-known web design company 37signals. The book talks about their approach to manage web development projects. In that context, getting real means:

  • Build the solution instead of preparing charts, documents, presentations, etc. about the intended solution.
  • Focus on the things, which really matter and don’t do all the other stuff (e.g. advanced features).
  • Be flexible in what you do.
  • Start with what people have to use in the end: the interface of the software.
  • Accept change and incorporate a change attitude in your way of working.
  • Deliver only what you really need and nothing more.

While reading the book I was thinking how that maps to what we are trying to achieve in ARIS Community. Of course, by providing ARIS Community, ARIS Express and ARIS MashZone, we are not developing a web application. But we are trying to provide BPM (business process management) to everyone, so that everyone can benefit from the advantages of BPM free of charge. But how must “BPM for everyone” look like? What features are essential? What can be left out?

The answer is: Getting Real about BPM. Most of us work in small companies or we can only influence small parts of a bigger cooperation. Of course in an ideal world it would be great if we could influence the whole organisation to approach BPM, but this is often very unlikely. Therefore, we must find the tools to just get the job done in the context we work. We are not alone, because there are many out there facing the same situation. Therefore, getting real about BPM means:

  • Use graphical models to visualise how processes must be adapted to improve daily business.
  • Document only those processes, which you are currently improving. Use the models as a communication tools to identify improvements, but do not turn your small organisation into a bureaucratic monster.
  • Model notations are tools and not religions, so be creative and flexible in the way you use them.
  • Don’t document every single step, but focus on those aspects which affect the involved people. For example, focus on points where people have to interact and agree on how to synchronise their work.
  • Accept that processes will change and that the initial improvement effort is just a first step, but not the final solution.
  • Gain momentum by focusing on the most urgent problems first and don’t try to build the perfect enterprise architecture for your 15 people department.

Those points sound straightforward, but unfortunately it isn’t. Often, we are looking for a perfect solution where we just need to get things done. Still, I hope that as soon as more people take up on BPM, we will see that getting real about BPM is the way to go forward.

Tags: BPM