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Bridging the Gap between Business Processes and Technology

The following post is from my friend (and I.T. management expert) Carl Brown.  You'll enjoy his thoughts:

Business Process Management (BPM) is a concept that has existed for many years.  However, it was not until the squeeze of the recent recession that companies had to revisit it with a more focused eye.  Technology use to be the core focus because of all the software vendors wanting to capture the consulting dollars of these companies.  While I believe that technology is important, I firmly believe that understanding how technology can better your processes is even more important. 

As a person that has worked in the information technology field for many years, I have seen too many people “flop” when it comes to creating technology solutions simply because they do not understand what the business process encompasses.  Take for an example an employee that is tasked with creating a database application to audit records (financial, claims, etc).  The process starts off with a meeting between the developer and the business owner (usually the manager or director of a department).  During this meeting, the discussion evolves around what the database may look like and how can it help the business owner more efficiently achieve his goal.  The big unknown is how effectively the two parties can bridge the gap between the process and the technology.  If the developer has no knowledge of why the department exist, he will have a hard time creating a database to help achieves that department’s goals.  The process of “making the process” more efficient becomes a painstaking process

So, what is a company to do in order to minimize the gap which exists between the business process and technology?  I suggest focusing on the following two simple points. 

  • Make sure your developer (or business liaison) understands the business process.

This can simply be achieved by imbedding the developer in the department to shadow an employee that understands the department’s process. 

  • Create a method of communicating on a regular basis so that each entity has a chance to get their questions answered.

I would suggest more than just email.  This will not only allow for both parties to meet face to face, but can also build a relationship between the two. 

The business process is what is most important to the manager of the department.  He does not want to worry about how technology can help.  On the other hand, the developer realizes that technology can solve some of the manager’s problem.  Bridging the gap between the two is the variable that separates great technology solutions from ones that fail and are forgotten.  The closer the gap, the more successful your information technology solutions will become. 

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