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Implementing BPM real-time analysis? Start with BAM

A BPM system needs a dashboard to show its return on investment and keep the execs abreast of what goes on. Architects need to choose the right levels of alerts to make BAM effective. Starting with BAM may be the best entry.

BPM projects increasingly have a focus on delivering real time information. According to Forrester Research analyst Henry Peyret, an important element in implementing real time BPM can be Business Activity Monitoring (BAM), which began as a separate product niche several years ago and offers the ability to deliver real-time dashboards for monitoring all kinds of business processes.

By way of a primer, Peyret says BAM existed even before BPM. “The reality now is that the popularity of things like Six Sigma means that many companies begin with measurement, even before they have considered if they will execute a BPM project,” he says.

Therefore, for those interested in delivering real-time information within a BPM context, Peyret suggests actually starting with BAM, which is often built into BPM packages. In fact, BAM can provide a basis for launching BPM. “About 30 percent of the customers I surveyed a few years ago were doing BAM first,” he says.

For those interested in leveraging BAM to deliver real-time analytics, Peyret cites three “top-level” best practices that BPM pros should consider from a Forrester report which he co-authored, “Best Practices: Business Activity Monitoring Adoption.”

First, consider creating a BAM center of excellence (COE). The rationale is that BAM is relatively new and related organizational skills sets are often not well developed. A COE can help support successful implementation by strengthening technical capabilities and providing a bridge between business and IT.

Second, involve mid-level management and implementers early in the process. Plan to manage expectations; pick first projects that are achievable and will demonstrate value; and, develop a mechanism for training and evangelizing.

The third recommendation from Peyret’s report is to choose the right metrics and levels of alerts for your BAM effort. The issue here is making sure that the projects end up being effective. Peyret’s report notes that only by making careful selections in delivering information can you derive maximum business value. Organizations too often make the mistake of setting up dashboards for management without getting input from operational people, which may make the dashboards unwieldy or ineffective.

Alert storms ahead

Likewise, whatever indicators are selected shouldn’t be blessed and implemented without involving a sufficiently broad set of viewpoints. Companies also tend to allow or encourage the creation of too many alerts. This can produce “alert storms” that ultimately backfire by causing users to “tune out” or ignore alerts. The four practices recommended by Peyret for developing metrics and alerts are to:

  •  “Work with stakeholders to transform the initial business objectives into dashboards.”
  •  “Be sure to refer back to initial objectives rather than KPIs, to ensure that KPI’s don’t start to become an end in themselves.”
  •  “Choose a representation method that simplifies interpretation and guides action.”
  •  “Deploy to users gradually.”

“Implementing BAM can be a function of maturity in terms of BPM,” says Peyret. In fact, companies with more mature BPM practices have a higher level of BAM implementation. However, Peyret continues, BAM can also begin and function independently. “Some BAM approaches are not directly linked to BPM at the beginning, in which case you can easily start with BAM."

"Then, as your organization’s needs develop or mature, you can add more complex features, provide users with the ability to change the user interface, etc. All those things can provide more dynamic capabilities to the business, which can lead to further breakthroughs at the business level,” he adds.


Alan Earls is a technical writer based in the Boston area.

[This material originally appeared in the SearchSOA BPM ezine, Vol 1. #1, 2010.]

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