Priorities, Skills, and BPM

  • September 9, 2009
  • Scott

Just read a great article (no surprise!) by Joel Spolsky on Setting the Right Priorities.  His point isn’t about BPM (the article is a somewhat humorous recounting of the many mistakes he feels he made in his start-up).  But it reminded me of a conversation I must have had 100 times since I started working on BPM projects.

People always ask questions like:

  • What project management skills do we need to be successful?
  • What technical skills do I need to be successful in BPM?
  • What programming languages do I need to look for when I recruit someone?
  • Is it hard to do that? (where “that” might be any particular change in the process)
  • What kind of process analysis skills do we need to be successful.

My general answer is:  it isn’t any one thing that makes it hard to do BPM right or well.  It is a whole set of simpler tasks and priorities that have to play well together (not unlike the overall process when you’re done – and not unlike getting the pieces to come together in a start-up).  The challenge when building a process is more about knowing what combination of building blocks will get the job done, and then knowing how to execute each of those building blocks with skill and due speed.  Unfortunately this skill is still, for the most part, acquired like a craft- with experience, training, and mentorship.  It is not arrived at with a single university degree or training class, and it is not so scientific that you can write the formula down.

At a larger level within a BPM project (or any project!) success is about prioritizing.  Experience and some practical tools of the trade help you determine what’s most important, and what needs to be done next – but then you have to be disciplined enough to follow the process.  Joel gives some great anecdotes about their start-up journey and how misunderstanding your priorities can hurt your efforts – definitely a good read.

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