MWD says the Big Guys are Getting it Together

Scott Francis
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Neil Ward-Dutton of MWD recently claimed that Capgemini is pulling it together for BPM. It is an interesting area to keep track of and MWD is one of the best at covering these issues (largely because they seem to be a bit tougher on vendors than other analyst firms):
I’d come across a number of cases where BPM projects had turned out to be tougher than they might have been because the incumbent CSI provider had failed to really understand how they could add value. From what I was seeing, many smaller and more specialised local firms were doing great work supporting business’ BPM needs; but the larger players just weren’t “getting it”.
Amen.  Neil hit the nail on the head.  If anything, he was too nice about it.  Some of these bigger players aren’t just not “getting it” they’re actually destroying value in some cases.  Much of this is simply driven by the penny-wise, pound-foolish nature of business today: In the pursuit of lower cost-per-hour, we’re seeing people staffed that simply aren’t qualified to do the work.  And then more raw numbers of people are staffed at this lower rate.  And the customer, and the big vendor, think that a large quantity of lower-skill “resources” will make up for the missing small number of experts (and not just whiteboard experts, I’m talking experts that write code and get their hands dirty). Worse, I’ve seen companies look at a project – a team with 1-2 BPM experts and 40 Java/SOA resources – and focus on cost cutting for those 2 BPM experts.  Everyone depends on the SOA team delivering quality work on time, but the SOA team is staffed with $25-50/hour subcontractors who have never really done this stuff before, and produce about less output than 2-3 experts with Hibernate and Spring would.   But companies focus on how to get the rates down on those 2 “expensive” BPM experts – because obviously swapping out a cheaper resource there will fix the problem right? Instead of focusing on the fact that they don’t have the right kinds of people on their SOA teams: a few highly skilled experts rather than an army of low-skill-level novices. As I’ve said many times before:

An hour of labor is not the output of your well-spent money, it is the input.

An hour of labor is an input, along with skill, experience, context, intelligence.  The output is a deliverable, an outcome, a business result.  Therefore, the quality of that input has a dramatic effect on the quality of the output. Neil thinks the big vendors may be turning their lack of focus on BPM around – Capgemini is launching a Pega practice, and several other big firms have had similar announcements, with Pega, Cordys, IBM, etc. .  I still think the best value for your money is going to be the pureplay BPM Services firms – I’ve said so before (and I’ll say it again!). These big vendors announce initiatives all the time – and it always involves hundreds of people in the press release.  I wouldn’t hold my breath – I’ll just wait for the success stories to show up in blogs and analyst coverage.  I’d venture that most of these firms won’t pick up the right BPM DNA unless they acquire a boutique BPM firm to get it (much as IBM purchased Lombardi, partly to pick up its BPM DNA).