Business Process: Brett Champlin

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Business process management “is certainly a way to deal with the perceived amounts of waste” in government, says Brett Champlin, president of the Association of Business Management Professionals, a year-old, vendor-neutral nonprofit group. “That’s part of process re-engineering.”

With about 120 members, the association has three active chapters—in the Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco metro areas—and others in emerging phases in at least seven other cities in the United States and Canada.

Just back from an international BPM conference in London, he answered questions in a GCN Forum June 7.

<@vm> Thank you for your interest. Our forum will begin in a moment.

Lloyd Batzler -

Welcome to our forum with Brett Champlin of the Association of Business Management Professionals. He’ll take your questions for the next hour. To read more about the organization, see its web site,

To set the scene, let me start with two questions: You recently attended an international BPM conference in London. What are some of the trends emerging in the industry these days? And how are business-process practices being adopted by governments, both here in the United States and overseas?

Brett Champlin:

Hi Lloyd,
Thanks for inviting me to participate in this forum. One of the major trends in BPM is a recognition of the convergence of several previously independent approaches to information and technolgoy management to focus on the business process management (BPM), specifically, business rules, business intelligence, workflow, and content mangement.

I think it has become evident to practitioners that while each of these technologies can be useful, they achieve real value when tied to process performance management. The other major trend is that hundreds of vendors in various specialties are repositioning their products and extending their product lines to recognize BPM and fit into a BPM solution architecture. (see )

It seemed that there was a general feeling in Europe that they are ahead of us in recognizing the value process management and BPM systems, especially in government.

I have seen an increase in the number of people from government attending BPM conferences (BrainsStorm, IDS-Scheer for example). A few have projects underway, but most seem to be just "kicking the tires".

McLEAN: Service oriented architectures and standards are growing in this field apparently. How long will it be before there is a universial standard, if ever?

Brett Champlin: SOA has been developing for some time. SOA is one of the key technical concepts that has contributed to the BPM Systems. There are several technical standards that have to be coordinated to implement SOA. I guess I see the standards kind of like the components - you should be able to swap out one piece for something 'new' without affecting the whole stack. Look how long it took for TCP/IP to become the universal standard for networking. I suspect it will take as long for a universal standard to emerge here as well.

Tom Douglas, Cleveland: business process reengineering initiatives have been around the block many times. what's the big deal with business process management, what is new and different here?

Brett Champlin:

We've been seeing people like Tom Davenport and Michael Hammer coming back into the process management dialog and pointing to the mistakes that were made with BPR and acknowledging that there is more to it than they thought. They also point out, correctly, that there was an awful lot of misunderstanding or just plain mis-labeling going on - BPR was not supposed to be synonomous with layoffs and downsizing.

One thing that is new and different is better tools and a better understanding of how to apply them. BPM is more about management having the data and the tools to actually visualize and measure the end-to-end business process and not manage from a functional efficiency perspective which suboptimizes the business process. BPM is about focusing process performance first on what is of value to the customer and gaining a deep understanding of what contributes to that.

Boston MA 02134: How does BPM compare to Sigma Six or others like TQM?

Brett Champlin:

Six Sigma is, as one anlayst said, "An inch wide and a mile deep approach to improvement". I think Six Sigma is great in its focus on measurement and the voice of the customer, but it is pretty much universally applied to narrow functional problems as opposed to end-to-end business processes. And, from the evidence I've seen, it hasn't been as successful in many organizations in creating a lasting process management function. It seems to foster a small project hit and run mentality in most companies as opposed to GE for example. Many manufacturing organizations have paired Six Sigma with LEAN to offset some of the deficiencies of 6S.

The TQM approach, likewise, was that "Everything, all work, is a process". It is an incremental process improvement approach. This a great approach when you already have a high performance, well documented, measured and managed process in place, but unfortunately it doesn't help very much if you are missing all of that.

BPM is about having a process management process and using information and technology to focus on process - not functional - performance.

Fairfax, Va: Personally, I never thought it left, just some of the people who tried to make it work and got kicked around because it didn't work fast enough or lowered IT costs significantly. So, what makes it different to previous business process management efforts this time around?

Lloyd Batzler: Brett: We've received several questions along this line. Fairfax raises several points, including the speed with which results should be expected and savings. Are there guidelines or rules of thumb, or does it vary by project size and scope?

Brett Champlin:

I understand your point. I think that there have been some efforts in the past to do what we now call "BPM", but from my observations, the ones that were successful were exceptions, most of them were focused on automation of the process and not on creating sytems to support process management. By that I mean giving tools to the process owner (or steward) to not just get a report after the fact that shows a one-dimensional view of performance (typically financial), but that lets them understand how each component of a end-to-end business process is contributing to the overall process performance with all the measures that align to the business plan. Generally BPM solutions will involve accurate and active process models, performance monitoring during operation, and business intelligence capabilities to view perfomance over time from a number of dimensions. And, the ability for the process owner to predict the effect of changes they might make and then to implement them directly.

These concepts have been successfully applied in continuous process manufacturing for a long time. But other types of business processes are much more complicated and today involve much more "knowledge work" these kinds of processes have orders of magnitude more expception processing and rules to manage. I think that is why we now have the tools and the understanding to make BPM work for a much wider spectrum of business processes today.

NYC, NY: It appears major BPM Vendors are hitching their hopes on systems to help comply with Sarbanes-Oxley. How can/do/will these solutions help?

Brett Champlin: They can help by visualizing the source of the data and how it flows through the process. BPM solutions are about informating the process, i.e., capturing the data that let you measure the performance and compare to your KPIs (key performance indicators). They can be applied to a compliance process just as well as any core business process.

Charles, Santa Fe: Is there expected to be standardization of "dashboards"

Brett Champlin: Microsoft would love that :-) I do think that after a lot of experience with these types of solutions that a stadard approcah or best practices kind of model will evolve. Similar to the data marts that many people have rolled out, eventually you get to the point where each one is 80+ percent the same, the same dimensions, similar facts, etc.

SF CA: What are the most critical considerations in buying a business process solutions package?

Brett Champlin: First and formost, of course, is does it have all of the functions that you need for your business. After that, one of the more critical considerations is that the packages fit into your technology infrastructure and overall architecture direction.

Tony Bereshnyi: Since we are in the 5th generation software development technologies. Is there an effort being done on knowledge base technology for process improvement
implementations(information/process modeling).

Brett Champlin: One of the key components of most BPM systems implementations is how to capture, manage, and execute business rules. Many of the modeling and workflow vendors provide features to integrate with one or more of the most prominent rules management systems. I think we will see more efforts in that arena and also in developing standards to make that integration more seamless.

Crystal City Virginia: We are being pressed to justify spending and costs, documenting return-on-investment? Does one vendors’ solution offer a better way to cost-justify than another?

Lloyd Batzler: Since your group is neutral, let's ask this in a different way: What are some questions buyers should be asking vendors about their products to compare and contrast what's available and how it works>

Brett Champlin:

Thanks, Lloyd, for pointing that out. ABPMP is vendor neutral and vendor independent.

I personally don't think that you have to have a "one-size-fits-all" approach to BPM solutions. Some products are more workflow based, some more rules based, etc. I think each solution needs to be matched to the problem, i.e., the process. Generally speaking most solutions will be a good ROI if you're applying them to a real process problem.

Ron Pearce: When and IF – a big IF – the Oracle Corp. merger with People Soft Inc. occurs, how will this change the business process products market?

Brett Champlin: I really don't have an opinion on this. From my perspective it won't have much impact on the BPM space.

Lloyd Batzler: Brett, a non-technical question. You spoke two months ago at a BPM conference in Miami, Fla. At the conference, there was much discussion about the need to manage cultural change that can come as a result of re-engineering. How much effort should managers put in dealing with this aspect of business process change? And how important is "buy-in" from the top manager or CIO?

Brett Champlin: There are two questions there. First, how much effort should managers put into managing cultural change? I would say that the more you are changing the process, the more effort you need to put into managing change overall and culture is a huge piece of that. The second question goes hand-in-hand with that. For any change effort to be successful and lasting it must have visible support or even better "championing" from someone with enough visibility and authority to get people to recognize it as a serious change. Absolutely critical, probably one of the most important critical success factors.

Lloyd Batzler: We are nearing the end of our session. Thanks, Brett, for your time and insight. Before we leave, one more question. What's on the agenda for your association for the balance of this year?

Brett Champlin:

The Association of Business Process Management Professionals is co-chairing the Brainstorm BPM conference series. The first was in Chicago in April. Next is San Francisco, June 21-23. The final conference this year will be held in New York, November 4-5. Our Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco Chapters all have ongoing programs locally. We will have chapters coming "online" in Atlanta, Boston, and Detroit hopefully by the end of the year. Id like to invite everyone who participated in this forum to visit our website at and consider joining.

Thanks for having me.


Pittsburgh: Is XML being deployed widely in business-process products or are companies using properietary software?

Brett Champlin: XML seems to have become the lingua franca of the integration standards. BPML, BPEL, BPMN, XPDL, all of those are XML based standards. As far as I can tell most vendors are supporting some kind of XML import/export/communications already. Many are waiting to see which of the various BPM standards will dominate before commiting to one. Some are able to integrate with any of the main ones now.

Lloyd Batzler: The hour has moved quickly. We appreciate your questions and interest. I'm in the process of lining up more online sessions on business process management for later this summer. Please stay tuned and watch for regular updates. Thanks again to Brett Champlin. Have a good week.


About the Author

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