'BPM needs agile approach'

Read time 1min 50sec

Unlike the traditional waterfall approach to business process management (BPM), the agile approach is highly disciplined and flexible.

This is according to John Hayden, chairman of consultancy firm John Hayden and Associates, speaking during the ITWeb BPM Summit, in Bryanston, which was attended by 113 delegates.

Hayden defines a business process as a series or sequence of activities, often across departmental and organisational boundaries, that involves different functional disciplines that are initiated by a trigger. A business process requires input, adds value and produces outcomes for an external or internal customer.

He then explained that the traditional waterfall approach to IT systems development requires that full specifications are completed and signed off before IT development starts.

“Waterfall is very structured, stepping through requirements analysis, design, coding and testing in a strict, pre-planned sequence. Progress is often measured in terms of delivered artefacts like design documents, requirement specifications, test plans or code reviews,” he explained.

Pointing to the criticisms that have been levelled against the waterfall approach, Hayden said it is inflexible to changes in requirements while in mid-stream; it is slow and bureaucratic; and it is demeaning of role-players.

Agile is a response to the well-recognised shortcomings of waterfall, he points out. “Agile's view is that requirements or specifications are 'perishable' - they don't stay fresh. Agile also values user involvement versus rigidly sticking to processes, methodologies and tools.

He also revealed that agile requires a fundamental change in people's culture and mindsets, and how a project team works and behaves. “It emphasises co-location and face-to-face, verbal communications, collaboration and cross-functional teams.

“It's about a leadership philosophy that encourages teamwork, self-organisation and accountability. It's about managing a team rather than individuals,” Hayden added.

Nonetheless, he stated that the biggest challenge in implementing agile methods involves changing the culture and mindsets of people on the project team.

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