July 22 2015

A few years back when I was leading development teams in a large IT shop, I recall a Senior Operations leader asking me this:

"How can I do BPM with smaller teams and workgroups?  I just can’t justify the expense for a team of 6 or 8."

He was right … and it was a hard question. My development teams did not have the time amidst other projects and he could not “afford" a full-time developer to work on a project for a small team — the ROI was just not there.  At the time, the options open to his operations groups were:

  • Manual Processes
  • Excel and Email
  • MS Access databases if they had the skill set
  • Go find a tool, if one existed, for the problems his teams had

Other teams have turned to Lotus Notes, workflows built into other tools -- you name it. All of these can be valuable tools at the right time and the right place. In the end, they indicate a desire by the business to accomplish a goal, automate a process or make their lives easier. As many of you have no doubt experienced, IT and the Business groups have fought over these types of applications for years.  IT is always worried about rouge business groups running off and developing MacGyver apps that the IT team will eventually need to support and maintain.

In line with my colleague Calista Bruce’s great blog on the Citizen Developer, I think the continued use of cloud/SaaS applications and the trend of more technical and tech-savvy users in the business make this the right time for cloud-based process management.  

Here are a few ways I see IT being impacted by the move to cloud-based process management and how they can actually use this trend to better serve the business and ultimately the end customer

  1. Less maintenance of systems and platform as infrastructure and process continue to move to cloud offerings.  Instead of focusing on patching, bug fixes and other activities, IT is freed up to focus on their most important tasks and helping the business succeed with their process management challenges.  

IT will need to focus on the business problems to drive innovation.  This will require IT to step-up their game.

  1. Integration and data management are still complex.  The move to process management in the cloud will require IT to focus on providing easy access to enterprise data, service and processes.  Exposing these in ways that make it easier for business users to consume will be key.  Look at services like IFTTT or Zapier and the impact they are having on how we can personally connect various data sources and applications to see where things are headed.  But, the mapping or integration of processes to other SaaS and on-premise applications will necessitate a partnership to provide the standards and best practices for the long-term.

IT will need to expose core services via APIs and assist with complex mappings to enable the business to create valuable processes

  1. Governance and Standards.  IT will still be on the hook for security, data management and availability.  Tools like Oracle Process Cloud Service (PCS) will give IT comfort that an enterprise-class solution is in place and reduce risk vs. existing departmental applications.  In addition, visibility can be enhanced as IT assists in choosing cloud tools vs. homegrown process management approaches.​

IT will still need to govern and manage the IT landscape, but should do so with a more federated approach.

Modern tools like PCS and a focus on exposing data with services are going to force the IT department to truly focus on services and exposing the core assets so the business can be focused on innovation.  I believe the answers to my business partner’s question are becoming clearer by the day.  

 

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