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What Comes First in Good BPM Design?

Lately, I've become obsessed with evaluating the linkage between good process design and good experience design. This obsession was initially sparked by the primary research I did earlier this year around reinventing and redesigning business processes for mobile. The mobile imperative is driving a laser focus for companies to create exceptional user experiences for customers, employees, and partners.  

But this laser focus on exceptional design does not only extend to the application development world. This drive for exceptional user experience is also radically changing the way companies approach business process design. 

As I have interviewed BPM teams where user experience plays a large role in driving specific process change, some highlighted that they see experience design playing a greater role in driving process change than the actual process modeling and analysis aspects of process improvement.  I am beginning to refer to this approach as "Experience First." Instead of putting the process model first and giving the process model highest importance, these teams put experience design first and then optimize and transform underlying business process to deliver on the desired experience. Although this sounds subtle, it is a radical shift for BPM teams; since most teams have adopted methodologies and tools that are heavy on process modeling, and give little weight to the overall process experience (i.e., the experience that the user has when completing the process).

Teams adopting this "Experience First" approach to BPM realize that combining a beautiful process model with a poorly designed experience still leads to limited adoption of the process solution, resulting in end users turning to alternative channels for completing business process steps and activities.

Recently, I interviewed IBM's Phil Gilbert on the impact of experience design and design thinking on BPM.  Many of you know Phil from his role as the President and CTO of Lombardi; and also through IBM’s acquisition of Lombardi, in his role as Vice President for BPM, leading IBM's BPM strategy and direction.  More recently, Phil stepped into a new leadership role within IBM, launching a new group that will focus on product design and the user experience across IBM's portfolio of applications. During our interview, Phil outlined the concept of "Design Thinking" and sketched out specific strategies and techniques for applying experience design to drive a different approach for optimizing and transforming business processes.

Click here and scroll down the page to listen to Clay’s podcast.

After you listen to the podcast, let me know what you think. Do you believe "Design Thinking" will change the way we approach business process? Is your team struggling with adopting more of an "Experience First" approach to BPM?  Are the BPM tools and methods you are using able to embrace experience design as a primary focal point for driving process improvements? 

This blog originally appeared at Forrester Research.

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