Another wave of Business Process Management? Or is it Process Transformation?

  • March 7, 2017
  • Scott
  • 0 Comments

Adobe Spark-19

Is there another wave of Business Process Management? Or is it Process Transformation?  Or can we just focus on Customer Success and call it a day?

An interesting post on Forbes.com by Daniel Peter on the subject of Salesforce and what companies are trying to achieve with it really addresses these questions (emphasis added):

Polly Sumner, Chief Adoption Officer at Salesforce, shared some transformational success stories of Salesforce customers: companies such as AXA, Enel, and Schneider Electric. Customers are looking to Salesforce, asking them how they can disrupt themselves before their competitors do. Salesforce offers fast-to-implement platforms and applications. However, this in itself often isn’t enough. It may also take reinventing the business. Salesforce partners with companies to help them look beyond the way things have been done, to envision and execute on new ways in which things can be done. Not doing anything is a good way for a company to become “Uber-ed”. Even if it isn’t the entire business, it is important to start with at least of piece of the business and re-invent there.

This is a fascinating take on how Salesforce interacts with its customers, and the expectations that those customers develop of what Salesforce can do for them. And Peter points out something that has been percolating within BP3 as well  (emphasis added):

To me this sounds like the latest incarnation of Business Process Re-engineering (BPR), and Business Process Management (BPM). It has aspects of both. BPR is traditionally an expensive proposition, but new tools like Salesforce have decreased the cost. Also BPR used to be a risky proposition due to the radical change involved. However now with the low barrier to entry for competitors, it is risky to not be in state of continuously re-inventing yourself. Aligning the resources more effectively sounds like a BPM concept.

Peter’s right. The risk has declined-  the systems of record are no longer  always databases hived away in a server farm, behind layers of dated networking equipment or protocols, and kept consistent only through a layer of application code and green screens. The systems of record now are often cloud-based platforms – not always the most modern architectures, but the platforms are remarkably more accessible and the application logic isn’t hidden.  Or at least- if it is hidden in Salesforce, it is hidden the same way across a lot of customers, rather than in a different and special way for each application.

It sure sounds like business process management – and smells like business process management, and walks like business process management. But riding atop a different technology stack.  At BP3 we’ve been seeing more great customer use cases for processes interacting with or intimate with Salesforce as the system of record.  I expect that trend will continue!

As a software engineer, I’m always looking for simpler ways to express things. Rather than get hung up with decades of BPx jargon, I prefer to get at the essence of the concept here. Many of the Salesforce executives described this as “Digital Transformation,” but even that isn’t simple enough for my tastes. I prefer to just think about “Customer Success.” If Salesforce focuses on doing whatever it takes to make its customers successful in the long run, it will be successful in the long run.

I think “Process Transformation” is a good hook – but Peter’s right that if the point isn’t customer success or customer experience, we’re doing it wrong!  And process transformation is definitely a key part of digital transformation – otherwise, how do you operationalize the things you want your business to do differently post-transformation?

Food for thought. Watch this space for more. 

 

 

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