“Use a Fad to Fix What’s Bad” – the New Mantra of Business Process Modeling and IT?

In the worlds of Business Process Modeling and Systems Development as new approaches emerge they quickly turn to fads that are seen as the panacea for all of the ills that plague these worlds. These “advanced”, and often unproven, approaches are quickly adopted because nobody knows how the existing mess has occurred nor has the skills to fix it – well not using existing techniques.

So the rationale is quickly formulated that the mess would not have had happened if the new approach had been available at the time it was being created, so using the approach will mend it! If the new approach is automated then it’s Eureka! Technology replaces thinking! One of the latest approaches that is quickly turning to a fad in many places is Business Process Execution Language (BPEL).

The emergence of “process centric” business modeling over recent years, where everybody models everything that happens in a business as a “process”, has introduced complexities that have accelerated this fad syndrome. Get this clear – not everything that happens in a business is a process, so stop modeling it as such! The problem is still further compounded because most “process” modeling tools are only suitable for modeling procedure. This statement is seen as “splitting hairs” by analysts and business managers who do not know the difference, but it is a big problem!

Procedure can, and will, change significantly over time within a business, due to changes in technology, organization, etc. Because nobody realizes that they have actually modeled the wrong thing, they mistakenly think that processes significantly change over time, which they do not. This is where approaches such as BPEL are seen as life saving solutions. Because procedure has been modeled in place of process, changes are happening all the time and there is a need to update things all the time. If this change could be automated and done quickly then the problem would be solved – wouldn’t it?

This approach takes the business to the brink of the Chaos Chasm! If you have chaos and you automate it you do not get elegance, you get automated chaos! So what is the solution? Agile development approaches? BPMN? ABCD? Some as yet undiscovered miracle?

Its simple – stop modeling the wrong thing! Stop modeling complexity and trying to control it. Model simplicity by modeling the core activities of the business – Business Functions – not business processes. This will bring simplicity, power and elegance – much easier to automate. The Integrated Modeling Method describes how all this can be achieved in organisations of all sizes with far less effort and greater speed.