>Business Process Management and Enterprise Architecture

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Business process management is part of enterprise architecture. Enterprise architecture is often equated with IT architecture. This is incorrect; they are not the same. IT architecture is focused on IT solutions. Enterprise architecture is broader and encompasses engineering both business and IT sides of the organization.

There are two primary ways that enterprise architecture modernizes and transforms the organization. From the technology side, you can introduce new technologies to enable mission. From the business side, you can reengineer or improve existing business processes.

“Business process management (BPM) is a method of efficiently aligning an organization with the wants and needs of clients. It is a holistic management approach that promotes business effectiveness and efficiency while striving for innovation, flexibility and integration with technology.” (Wikipedia)

Where does BPM fit in with enterprise architecture?

To answer this we can look at guidance from The Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Particularly Circular A-11 provides guidance on the submission of federal budgets; Part 7 (Planning, Budgeting, Acquisition, and Management of Capital Assets) spells out the requirement that an Exhibit 300 be completed for all major investments.

Aside from extensive questions for justifying your budget in the Exhibit 300, there are what’s commonly called the “Three Pesky Questions.” The 3rd of the three pesky questions is as follows:

  • “Does the investment support work processes that have been simplified or otherwise redesigned to reduce costs, improve effectiveness, and make maximum use of commercial, off-the-shelf technology? If not, management should reengineer business processes first, then search for alternatives, or the agency may issue a very broad statement of the requirements in a solicitation to the private sector and allow the private sector to do the reengineering in proposed solutions. Management should also improve internal process through cutting red tape, empowering employees, revising or pooling existing assets within the agency or with other agencies, redeploying resources, or offering training opportunities.”

What’s key here is the requirements that before planning to acquire capital assets, such as new IT, we first look to reengineer the underlying business processes. Only once we have addressed the BPM, do we look to enable these processes with IT.

How do we reengineer our business processes?

DM Review, 18 April 2008, reports that “BPM includes the modeling, implementation, measurement and monitoring of business processes.”

Here is the way I see it:

  • Three types of models: Business process (or activity) models are the first step, supported by data models and systems models.
  • Decomposition and relationships: In these models, we decompose the business functions, processes, activities, and tasks; identify the relationships to the information required to perform the business processes, and the systems (manual or automated) that serve up the information.
  • Areas for Improvement/Reengineering: Through this decomposition and identification of relationship between business/data/systems, we are able to identify gaps, redundancies, roadblocks, and opportunities in doing our business efficiently and effectively. Once identified, we can then tweak or wholly reengineer the business processes, fill in gaps, eliminate unnecessary redundancies, and so on.

Similar to the OMB Exhibit 300 “Three Pesky Questions,” DM Review reminds us that we cannot just focus on systems to fix what’s wrong in our organizations.

  • “Keep in mind that for almost every process evolution exercise, there will be more than just systems change (IT change) required. Organizational needs and personnel skills must be accounted for. It the organizational dimension is ignored, there will be another story about failure in process management and business change.”

Business Process Management is essential to organizational change management.

  • If a business is to be responsive to change and remain competitive, its ammunition will come from its ability to inspect, analyze and forward-engineer its processes and its business…before its competition!

So whenever you think of enterprise architecture remember business + IT, and the business comes first!