Scott Francis from BP-3 had an excellent post yesterday on the BP3 blog entitled Why We Need Pure Play BPM Consulting Firms. After going through the BEA and Oracle acquisitions, I can whole-heartedly agree with his position that the greater the number of products sold by an organization, the less specialized their resources can be. The Professional Services teams are folded into larger, already established organizations that more than likely have not had a traditional focus on BPM. Because there is a unique skill in being able to straddle the line between business and IT and maintain the respect and trust from both organizations, existing resources can not be thrown at a BPM problem and expected to solve it without some challenges. The space between business and IT is often a minefield scattered with the carcasses of failed and cancelled projects. When establishing BPM capabilities within an organization, the fastest way to build the all-important relationship between business and IT is to use someone who lives and breathes BPM.
By using a Pure Play BPM SI, organizations will have a much more valuable collection of resources and significantly increase the probability of a successful engagement. There is a distinction to be made at this point between contractors and consultants. Contractors are utilized to address specific work items or tasks (e.g. building an interface, designing a UI, etc.) On the other hand, Consultants provide specialized expertise and guidance aimed at improving an organization's capabilities and competitive advantage (e.g. establishing a BPM COE, developing BPM best practices, etc.) As Scott mentions in his post, throwing the requirements over the wall to an offshore team is fraught with risk. In my opinion, the biggest risk is not that the team won’t be able to develop something that meets the requirements. With enough time and enough bodies, anything can be developed. However, leveraging a “Pure Play BPM SI” will provide a consultative approach and provide the guidance and direction on critical factors such as the best methodology to use, change management, BPM evangelism, etc. Additionally, one of the most important roles played by BPM SIs is how to navigate the minefield between business and IT in order to ensure the project is successful and both the business and IT organizations maintain an appetite to continue to follow a BPM oriented strategy.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to value. Pure Play BPM SIs are not going to "back up the bus" and unload an entire army of worker bees. Using a military analogy, we are the Navy Seals, not the Navy. We have specific goals and objectives that require significant experience, training, and discipline in order to be ensure our clients are successful. By having an unmatched level of depth and understanding regarding how to leverage BPM and, even more importantly, how NOT to leverage BPM, Pure Play BPM SIs can have a profound impact on how BPM is adopted and accepted within an organization.