Defining BPM with a Poster

  • October 10, 2014
  • Scott

Keith Swenson of Fujitsu has published a poster based on the collaborative definition and clarification of BPM that he led in previous months.  That discussion ranged from LinkedIn groups to his blog and to others’ blogs, and much to my surprise, the community (largely thanks to Keith’s determination and efforts, though many contributed intellectually) arrived at a definition that doesn’t kowtow to a particular vendor’s interests or definition.

This is based on the effort to gain consensus around a single common definition for BPM.  The definition by itself can not convey the meaning, if the terms are not explained.  You have seen this before in my post “One Common Definition for BPM.”  What we have done is to put all the information together into a single poster.

So, an apology from me is in order:  I just didn’t believe that this effort would succeed with all the vested interests represented, nor that it was necessary – from the perspective that we’re doing “BPM” just fine, thank-you-very-much, and don’t want someone else’s definition imposed upon us.  But Keith (and others who helped) proved me wrong. The community can and did arrive at a meaningful definition.  Keith persevered through the naysayer comments (even mine), and through the vendor-specific trolling.  And I think the end result feels a bit more modern and well-thought-out than previous definitions from various standards bodies, though many of the people who participated in those efforts also engaged in the discussion with Keith.

So, thank you Keith and BPM community for both surprising and delighting in this effort. Further thanks to Keith for producing a pretty good visual layout that includes explanation of all the key terms and context – much of the text directly from the discussion, so this isn’t just Keith’s point of view.  A PDF version is available on his site as well.  While it flies the Fujitsu flag, and the PDF itself should be considered copyrighted unless Keith indicates otherwise, the text itself is available from other sources should you desire to make use of it.




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  • KDS

    Scott, thanks for the mention. Yes, I do remember a bit of kicking and screaming on your part, but I am very glad you came around in the end. It is worth mentioning that before we started on this, my definition of BPM was somewhat different from this, and I had to come around to it as well.

    The intent is to make this available in a Creative Commons share-alike mode which is the same that I put on all my blog posts, however I recently noticed that that claim is no longer mentioned on my blog site. I will have to do something about that. As you point out, the text itself is on several sites now include and The definition is included in the foreword of the new BPM book: Passports to Success and also a chapter in a new European BPM book. I certainly will not make any strong copyright claims — the purpose of this is to spread it widely so that we have a consistent definition and meaning.

    I do make an effort to recognize my employer, Fujitsu, because they allow me time to do things like this in the field in general, and also I got graphics help in this project from people at Fujitsu. Without their support I could not do this. So please remember to include the Fujitsu attribution when possible.


    • Thanks for the response, Keith – and no problem recognizing your employer – as you say, they are the ones that fund your involvement, and support you with other resources to communicate BPM. So, perhaps thanks to Fujitsu are also in order 🙂

      Congrats again!

  • As Keith mentions, the full text of the Definition of BPM is published in his Foreword to “Passports to Success in BPM” published by Future Strategies Inc. Just FYI – the book is now available on – short URL