BPM Adoption: Deep vs. Wide

  • July 8, 2016
  • Scott

Anatoly Belaychuk once again has hit the nail on the head with a post on BPM Maturity Models and the tension between going wide versus going deep with your BPM program maturity:

The maturity model comes in many flavors: Gartner has one, Forrester has another, Carnegie-Mellon SEI has CMMI. The BPM Common Body of Knowledge by ABPMP refers all these plus Michael Hammer’s PEMM plus introduces its own model. While being in consensus on what the topmost level is, different models propose slightly different paths to the “process nirvana”.


Organizations moving along the maturity scale shall overcome two barriers:

  1. “Go wide” – increasing the scope of process work: from selected priority processes to the system of processes constituting the enterprise.
  2. “Go deep” – increasing the degree of control: from basic process documenting to structured definition to full management of the business process lifecycle with strong emphasis.

After analyizing Forrester, Gartner, and SEI’s CMMI, Anatoly advocates for a go-deep strategy for BPM adoption and maturity.  And if go-wide means, document and analyze everything first, I have to agree with him.  The analysis without implementation simply becomes dead weight – overproduction – one of the cardinal sins of Lean. 

Going deep has the benefit of proving the ultimate value of BPM to the processes upon which you apply it.  Having taken this approach with customers, I’ve seen the power of the Return on Investment that happens in the iterative deepening of the BPM program – the best ROI isn’t on the first iteration, it is on the subsequent production updates.

Having said that, I’m a big fan of going deep with a slight modification – taking on more than one process solution at once.  After all, there is a real cost to software and the hardware it runs on, and there’s a time value of money. Taking on a few different types of problems accelerates organizational adoption, learning, and takes away the concern that one successful project is a one-off or a unicorn. It isn’t realistic to do this without help, but it really accelerates time to value when you do it well.



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