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Everything’s in the Name! February 5, 2011

Posted by Sanooj Kutty in Business Process Management, Others.
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The name game has now creeped into Business Process Management. A former manager of mine kept referring to BPM only to see a demonstration from Metastorm’s Enterprise Architecture software and exclaim that this is the BPM tool I was looking for.

Initially, as a BPM evangelist, I was peeved, peeved enough to withdraw myself from the program and request to be assigned to conventional IT project management. The industry had suddenly fallen in love with BPM and it was the buzzword everywhere.

As a committed BPM-er, I continued to pursue personally my passion for BPM. From Aris to Adonis to Tibco to Interfacing to Metastorm to IBM Blueworkslive, my shallow time-permitting evaluations confused me at times too.

Aris calls it a Process Platform or Aris House.
Adonis calls it Business Process Management.
Tibco calls it the same.
Metastorm has both Enterprise Architecture and BPM
Interfacing calls it Process Center.

Yet, do they mean Business Processes or Business Architecture ? Or are they one and the same?

Today as I tried out the BPMN Modeller Visio add-on from Interfacing, I realised one thing. Whatever name you call them, they all aim to achieve the same objective. However, because of the difference in scope, standards and methodologies that may be adopted by different tools, it is important that when you ask for a solution, you ‘name’ it right.

Platform, Architecture, Management or Center? They can all mean the same, yet behave different. They can all produce the same result, yet look different. They are all good tools and will serve very well. However, would they fit your organization easily?

I have chosen the Visio add-on to introduce to my employers. Not because I really liked it, but because every one has a Visio on their desktop and over 5 years, there are more people who know to use Visio than just the single me who has used a BPMS before in my organization. Without a BPMS coming into the organization anywhere soon, this tool allows me to introduce the principles of Business Architecture and Business Process Management.

I would call it BPM although I know I am only Architecting/Modelling the processes. Simply because, management and others in my company call it BPM. Any other name and it confuses all. Hence, everything’s in a name.

And yes, I do not blame my manager anymore. He was merely an outcome of the industry fad to outdo each other with different fancy names.


1. Andrew Smith @onedegree - February 5, 2011

I agree everything is in a name…However, dont you find that we send mixed messages. BPM to business often means drawing processes out in a flow chart type tool, using a designer, having a BPMS solution run based on those flow charts etc etc. So how can we also state that Case Management and ACM (Adaptive Case Management) is also BPM?

I know they tackle the same core business issue, managing processes, but their implementation and the way they go about it are completely different, therefore we should call it something different to make it clear to analysts, and business, just what sort of implementation we are talking about when handling processes….

For example at workFile we dont feel that BPM fits our need nor now the platform we are working hard on. We have gone for APG (Adaptive Procss Guidance) because we dont want to be straight jacketed into a particular way of thinking or implementing processes.

So yeap everything is in a name…Do you consider this to be typical BPM for example? http://www.workfilesuite.com/downloads/The%20APG%20Definition.pdf And if we do, then how do we explain the different approaches between say IBM or Documentum and this vision of managing processes, while making it clear to business…

I have also posted on APG. Would be good to get your thoughts on this



Sanooj Kutty - February 5, 2011

Andrew, you are right that we do send mixed messages. And as I understand you have coined your new term of Adaptive Process Guidance (will look up and post my comments). However, what we all forget is that someone like my manager is a layman. To have different tools from different vendors with different names and terms and they all look, sound and feel the same is only going to confuse the business stakeholder.

Our business stakeholders are primarily salespersons, accountant, manufacturers, etc. Process management is only something they need to gain better control, save costs and achieve competitive advantages. Their attention is driven towards the tool and how its serves their core competence. As they hear different terms and different sales pitches from us, they only get confused and finally make “impulsive” choices.

Toyota, Ford and Hyundai all sell cars. They may call them Camry, Focus or Sonata, but to the average person, it is still in essence a car!

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