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Derek Weeks
Derek Weeks

Business Process Analysis (BPA) for the Masses -- Is It Real?

This Summer, Gartner produced a research paper entitled "BPA for the Masses: Is it Real?". The paper discusses the increasing popularity of business process modeling tools that can be used by business people. Gartner's position is that the business people have the greatest understanding of their process and can now be equipped with tools that enable them to produce process models very quickly.

Rather than shutting the business users out of the process modeling exercise, they can now be engaged from the beginning. Gartner comments that involving business people in the process modeling exercise helped support the business analyst's efforts to help business and IT understand the process and its related analysis better.

I found the paper interesting and wanted to know if others agreed. Should we place a business process analysis (BPA) tool in the hands of a business user? 
When I asked some of my industry peers, I received the following response from Dan Darnell at Waltman, Weinberg & Reis:
“I designed and taught BPMN training focused on our ‘business people’ at QualChoice a few years ago. In my experience, non-IT, non-Analyst folk adapted well and ‘got’ the concepts. I don't understand why it should be surprising or unusual for business-side people to understand and use BPMN or, in general, BPM.
The business side should, or MUST, be involved in the process modeling exercise. Their involvement provides great benefit, and they should be given tools to document their processes themselves. IT, PMO, or similar organizations should not set themselves up as the exclusive provider of formal modeling work - it is not in the company's best interest. My experience was that the business side can model their own processes, and with the proper tools, their work can be integrated into the corporate model.”

Would you agree? Does giving a BPA tool to a business person help you? What has been your experience?

Additionally, Gartner recommends that companies avoid an initial step of buying a BPM suite or an expensive BPA tool. As they see more and more adoption of business process modeling as a responsibility of the business unit or a business service group, they see more businesses investing in low-cost, business-oriented, more accessible modeling tools. They provide many tool examples, but say that Visio clearly dominates.
Would you or have you put Visio in the hands of your business users?
Gartner states, “There are two primary reasons why BPA for the masses will become "real." One is the superior results in achieving true business performance improvement, and the other is the much-broader potential audience that can enable fuller collaboration.”
Do you see BPA for the Masses becoming real in your organization? I believe it only makes sense. The businesses know their process best, but have difficultly describing it or reaching consensus on the details…we have all seen this in discovery exercises. But, I believe there is great value in having business people collaborate with business and process analysts in building the process model while using a common tool. Involving the business helps improve their understanding of the process, their awareness of its complexity and potential problems, and their motivation to improve the process moving forward. 
I’d like to hear what you think after you read the paper. For a free copy of the Gartner paper, go to:
This entry was published on Sep 03, 2010 / Derek Weeks. Posted in Business Analysis Planning (BABOK KA), Business Process Management (BPM) , Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) . Bookmark the Permalink or E-mail it to a friend.
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COMMENTS posted on Monday, October 25, 2010 3:03 PM
The team at Mendix is all-for increased collaboration between business and IT. We're one of those vendors that's trying to facilitate the interaction with our modeling environment. It really makes sense that business people who use the software will have valuable input for those who build it, right? Why not make it easier for business people to design or at least prototype apps.
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