There's a lot of theoretical talk in BPM circles about proper methodologies and principles for automating processes - and rightly so. With that in mind, though, it's too often that we forget the ultimate objective of any BPM project: making life easier for the end user. Simply put, how do we make life easier for end users? There are three pillars - which will be key themes in BPM for 2012 and beyond - that are critical to BPM projects succeeding in today's IT environments.
Like the rest of enterprise IT, there's an increasing demand for mobile BPM solutions. Mobility is absolutely necessary for BPM projects in many organizations today. Consider a sales executive at the close of a quarter. As is often the case, the sales team will be scrambling to close quarter-end deals and organizations will have a lot of moving pieces in the air at any given time. Like any rational human being, the sales manager is going to have requirements outside of the office. Say they've got a mid-day prospect call while a member of their deal is looking for approval on a discounted deal and needs final signoff from the manager. With a mobile BPM solution, the sales executive could receive the necessary sign-off via a BPM application on their mobile device and remove a potentially fatal bottleneck from the process.
Social / Collaboration
Admittedly another IT buzzword, but one that cannot be ignored. Social streams are increasingly prevalent in enterprise IT tools - not just consumer products. Real-time feeds are increasingly prominent and their data offers a wealth of information in terms of employee patterns and behaviors. BPM projects have to adapt to this trend to maintain efficacy to the end user. The key to truly understanding (and being able to effectively automate) a process is watching how it unfolds in real time and understanding key patterns and trends that may not otherwise be readily apparent. This is most important for outlier activities that do not fit the normal use case for a process. In order to most efficiently handle an outlier, a set of social or collaborative features within the BPM suite will help speed completion of the process.
The third pillar is more abstract than the previous two, but no less important to boosting end-user productivity: prioritization. An organization will start any number of processes in a given day, with some decidedly more important than others. How is the user to decipher what is the most important task at that moment in time? It should be the job of the BPM suite to help them do this. For example, a task that is already late (due to some previous bottleneck) should be at the top of their queue. Anything that can be done to help the end user make the right decision on which task to complete first will help the overall success of the process and the end user.
These three pillars underscore the realities of modern IT and have a lot to offer BPM projects in terms of achieving the desired result in the most efficient manner possible.