BPM - is it about software or process?

Johannesburg, 24 Nov 2009
Read time 4min 10sec

BPM. What does it stand for? What does it really mean? If this question were posed to 10 different people, there would surely be 10 different answers. BPM, BPI, BPA, BPR. What are all these acronyms? When do we use it? What are the similarities? Different strokes for different folks!

BPM. Is it about the software or the process? Ask the same 10 people and what will follow will be a lengthy debate no doubt. Some believe that BPM focuses exclusively on technology, while others believe the process is the most important part.

Many articles have been written on what BPM is and what it is about, however, the answer to this question should be: BPM is not just about the software or the process, but it is about the people!

No matter what we believe or how many different opinions we have, a company that embarks on any kind of business process improvement, re-engineering, analysis or modelling initiative has to deal with cultural change. The project might involve a change in process due to a re-shuffle of resources, or the introduction of new technology that will bring about a change in how things are done, or add new steps to the existing process. All of this affects the way that people work and therefore new behavioural patterns have to be established.

We have all heard of (and we all sing along to) the popular radio station, WII FM (what's in it for me), but do we really live and preach this as if it is gospel? Change management lies at the very heart of any business process re-design or improvement project. Therefore, we should not only be considering the technical aspects of the implementation, or what modelling tool we are going to use, but we also need to spend considerable time and pay careful attention to the people and how the new way of working will be accepted by them. Many organisations fall into the trap of “let's just implement the changes; the people will have no choice once it is all done”.

When organisations decide to embark on a BPM or any business process related project, the focus should be on doing it right. Doing BPM (or any business process related initiative, for that matter) right requires buy-in. Moreover, this is where the real challenge lies. Yes, in addition to change management there are other elements that will be needed with any organisational and process change initiative - process analysis, modelling and design, process monitoring and many others. All these things are very important, but as Michael Hammer has pointed out, “coming up with the ideas is the easy part, but getting things done is the tough part. The place where these reforms are going to die is... down in the trenches.”

Interestingly, a recent BPM study found that user resistance to change is still the number one managerial issue experienced during the implementation of BPM. Second to this, a lack of understanding of what BPM is. This confirms the fact that our focus has to move to the people and to doing it right. To download the full report and view the results of this study, visit

The Association for Imaging and Information Management (AIIM) has been the leading international organisation for over 60 years, focused on helping companies to understand the challenges associated with managing documents, records, content and business processes. As an independent, vendor-neutral and unbiased source of information, AIIM serves the needs of its members by providing educational opportunities, professional development, reference and knowledge resources, networking events and industry advocacy.

One of the programs that AIIM has available is the Business Process Management Certificate. This programme is available at practitioner, specialist and master level and is designed from global best practices obtained from AIIM's 65 000 members. To learn more about BPM, what it is, what it is about, what it is not about, the importance of change management and how to go about embarking on a business process improvement project, you need to attend the next BPM certificate programme.

NokusaEI became the only AIIM accredited trainer in southern Africa in 2006. They deliver the BPM training programme, as well as several other certificate programmes, regularly throughout South Africa.

To find out more about AIIM or NokusaEI, please go to their Web sites: and For more information on the AIIM programmes presented by NokusaEI, please contact the training co-ordinator Lidia Basson on 011 791-1028 or

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