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Progress Software and Joe Isuzu: Process Intelligence, Not Business Agility: Page 2

By Wayne Kernochan     Feedback
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Process Intelligence and Business Agility

Now suppose you implement a strategy of infusing key business processes with Process Intelligence, and use the Progress Responsive Management Suite as part of the effort. This should, as the white paper indicates, "ensure that [the] entire company is aligned towards its stated performance objectives by linking business strategy to day-to-day business execution [i.e., business processes] more efficiently" and, hopefully, more effectively. More specifically, this should improve the quality of information given to the front line, make sure people are doing the processes right, handle cross-department inefficiencies, improve response times, balance looking at the past with projecting the future, fine-tune KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), and allow better business-process design.

However, reading between the lines, it is perfectly possible to do all of the above without improving business agility at all. If you make the information useful for selling to a particular market and the organization's market changes radically, you're back to square one. You can make sure people are doing the wrong processes the right way, but there's no realistic mechanism to "bridge the gap" and constantly recognize and implement readjustments to make business processes right as the environment and opportunities change. Likewise, handling inefficiencies in existing wrong business processes gets you no closer to implementing the right ones, or keeping them right as circumstances change. And it's clear from the context of the paper that new KPIs don't include good agility metrics, while "better" business processes doesn't include "better at handling change." As the saying goes, speeding up will get you to the wrong destination faster; it won't tell you what the right destination is — and especially when that right destination is changing as you drive.

Overall, then, Process Intelligence using Progress Responsive Management Suite can be altered (e.g., by substituting KAIs, or Key Agility Indicators, for KPIs) in order to be of modest usefulness to an organization that is effectively improving its business agility by other methods. In all other cases, it will have little if any impact on business agility, positive or negative. Sorry, Joe.

The User Bottom Line

The net-net for organizations considering Process Intelligence and Progress Responsive Management Suite as part of their strategies in such areas as embedded analytics is that, when implemented effectively, it should indeed give a boost to information visibility, with valuable follow-on effects on business process speedup, business process redesign, and synchronization of business strategy and front-line execution of that strategy. The one thing it won't do, in the vast majority of cases, is improve business agility in a major way.

However — and pardon me for being cynical here — in the real world today, the fact that Process Intelligence probably won't have an impact on business agility doesn't matter. Improving business agility, in the end, means changing corporate culture, processes and tools in significant ways, so that they are continually adjusting to and anticipating changes in the environment, and most organizations today are at the beginning of that task, if they are even tackling it comprehensively at all. While you're waiting, tools that can be repurposed to help a little, like Process Intelligence, are better than tools with no clear way to be repurposed. And the benefits from increased visibility should not be sneezed at. So it makes sense for most organizations to begin to implement Process Intelligence with its embedded analytics and kick the tires of the Progress solution — especially since Progress Software has a track record of supporting an exceptionally wide range of enterprises, from SMBs to the Fortune 1000.

So my recommendation to users is to ignore Joe Isuzu and pay attention to the little message at the bottom about the benefits of increased information visibility via Process Intelligence. And my recommendation to Progress Software is to let Joe go back to his well-deserved rest in marketing's Valhalla. Otherwise, he'll start claiming that your solutions will end all need for humans — oh, wait, that's IBM's Watson.


This article was originally published on May 30, 2011
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