David McCoy

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

David W. McCoy
Managing VPt
19 years at Gartner
33 years IT industry

David McCoy manages the analysts on the IT Procurement and Asset Management team. David started Gartner's BPM research and is credited with defining the market that emerged ...Read Full Bio

Changing the Guard for Gartner’s BPM Leadership

by David McCoy  |  July 31, 2012  |  Submit a Comment

I haven’t blogged in a bit, but then none of you sent me flowers or chocolates, so I guess we’re even. I’m blogging today to herald my last day leading the BPM team. Before you gasp or cheer or do one of those silly dances you saw on Youtube, let me clarify. I’m not going anywhere;  Gartner is the best gig on the planet. I’m just transitioning to lead a new team. Having started Gartner’s BPM research back in the dark ages (circa 1999/2000), I’m ready for a new challenge, a change of the status quo. And – about a month ago – I was offered that change. Starting tomorrow – August 1 – I’ll be leading Gartner’s IT Asset Management, Vendor Management and Procurement research teams. John Dixon will become the new leader of the BPM team. We’re both excited. John has a deep background in management, and he’s going to be a great leader. As for me… well… I’ve always been interested in pricing models and the arcane aspects of software licensing, as those of you who attended the most recent BPM conferences will recall. I even wrote on this subject, back when I wrote BPM content. Now, I’m privileged to lead the teams that will be delivering that hard-hitting and quantifiable research. IT Asset Management, Vendor Management, and Procurement: It’s a new ballgame for me. I’m so jazzed, I might even start blogging again, on a more frequent basis, on this new topic. We’ll see. To everyone in the land of BPM, thank you for the good ride we’ve had. Keep pushing for process excellence. It’s a goal that will never fade. Keep our vision intact. Those of us who were there at the start of the industry can be proud of what it has grown into.




David McCoy

Managing Vice President and Gartner Fellow Emeritus

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This is Why We do Business Process Simulation

by David McCoy  |  November 4, 2011  |  Submit a Comment

It’s not like you’re planning a trip to Mars, but your fancy new processes are just as alien and hostile until you’ve simulated them and refined them based on what you learn. Do it. It’s not a dark science or a play toy. It’s common sense.


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Your Biggest Challenge with BPM?

by David McCoy  |  October 20, 2011  |  Submit a Comment

I’m working on a list of prioritized client challenges to guide the 2012 BPM research agenda. It’s a list of the usual (vendors/tools), the new hot spots (innovation potential) and the few that will fall into “not sure that’s a really big challenge” and be dumped.

What is your BIGGEST challenge with BPM? 

I’d like to know. If it’s one I’ve missed, I’ll be surprised, but I’ll certainly consider it.

For fun, you can express it in the following format (one that I will be using), which forces you to think about the full story: protagonist (role), action (verb/participle), struggle (challenge), resolution (action/benefit/outcome).:

<role>  <snappy action verb / participle> <challenge> <action/benefit/outcome>

Example: Business Process Directors are challenged to apply organizational change techniques so they can achieve the required buy-in for business process improvement projects

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The Ultimate Management Theory Book?

by David McCoy  |  August 12, 2011  |  Submit a Comment

I’ve not been a fan of management theory books. I have my reasons, and you probably know that from my posts in 2008. Too many of the books on the shelf are temporal ramblings from someone who has done something noteworthy and been approached by a publisher. Many are little more than comic books for adults. Every now and then, a Peter Drucker-class book comes along.

I’d like to get your take on the one (1) book that you would take to Mars, if you were being assigned as the new head of Martian commerce. If Mars is too far, then make it Albania. If you could select and read just one management theory book, which would it be? Personally, I’m still looking for the all-encompassing book, but I’ve yet to find a one called, “Stop Blinking and Move my Cheese so my Elephant can Dance like his Olive Tree is on Fire!” Until that fateful day in publishing history, what would you recommend, other than therapy?

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The Right Tool at the Wrong Time

by David McCoy  |  June 30, 2011  |  Submit a Comment

I lost a little leveling wheel in my move last weekend. It’s a round disk that sits on the bottom of each leg of my Jesper Sit and Stand fancy-pants desk. I guess it fell off in the moving trucks (yes, plural) because we can’t find it anywhere. Technically, I can’t find it anywhere. No one else cares about my little leveling wheel. They’re still trying to find which box contains fresh clothes and which contains basic cookware. They’re still trying to find the bedrooms in this new place.

Anyway, I have to order a replacement wheel, so I called the dealer and he asked “What’s the diameter?” Heck, I didn’t know. I went to my toolbox to get a ruler, and I didn’t have one. I had a fancy pressure gauge, an oscilloscope (nerd alert), some incredibly fancy wire cutters, a LASER level, and a ton of other hot tools. But, I didn’t have a stinking ruler. There’s a lesson there. It’s a lesson for BPM practitioners and vendors. Tools are great, but sometimes you need just the basics. Sometimes, all you need is a ruler, and all you have on hand is a fancy laser level. Sometimes…

Is it possible that some of you are doing effective process management with butcher block paper, sticky pads, and markers? Is it possible that some of you who’ve paid boatloads of money for the latest tools are dead in the water on your BPM efforts? Nah. Not possible. Right…

It’s not the tools. It’s the technique. Good technique + the right tool at the right time = success.

PS. It doesn’t hurt to label the SIDES of your boxes before a move and tape all four of the little leveling wheels to the bottom of your desk. I’ll remember that next time.

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BPM Certification Remains #1 Search Topic

by David McCoy  |  May 26, 2011  |  Submit a Comment

On my blog, “BPM Certification” is still the #1 search term at 9.3% of all searches. If you add in the variants (BPM Certificate, BPM certifications, Business Process Management certification), you get a total of 13.2% of the searches devoted to this topic.

What does this tell us:

  1. Y’all appear to be interested in having something to hang on the wall.
  2. OMG and ABPMP should be pleased to see this interest.
  3. All the other search terms were related to the BPMS Magic Quadrants, our BPM Hype Cycles, BPMS, David McCoy (my ego thanks you!) and…. “Doomsday Clock”

Oddly, “Doomsday Clock” is the #2 most searched single term. Is there irony in that? Sure, but I’m not going there.

Certification – it’s a good thing. Doomsday… that was so last weekend.

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BRM-aaS: Hot or Not?

by David McCoy  |  April 13, 2011  |  Submit a Comment

John Dixon and I are writing research on Business Rules functionality delivered as a service in a “Platform as a Service” model. It’s a rare bird today. Demand for pure BRM-aaS? Not sure. BR functionality is often bundled with other functionality (e.g., BPM) and if you’re going to the cloud, why wouldn’t you go with the whole enchilada? Thoughts welcomed. “Is there interest in pure rule functionality delivered as a platform service, or is the interest only niche?”

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When the customer has end-to-end visibility, and you don’t

by David McCoy  |  March 30, 2011  |  Submit a Comment

Interesting day, today. In dealing with a service provider, I found that I have more visibility into the process they are providing than they do. That’s pretty sad. Part of me wonders if they’ll call me up and say, “David… what do you see from your view? Tell us, because we can’t see the whole thing.” Well, that’s not going to happen. Part of the problem with limited process visibility is that you don’t know what you don’t know. That’s a mouthful that basically says, “Ignorance is, ummm, bliss?”

In cute, cartoon-like terms, they can see the mouse, but they can’t see the corn.The mouse is their own little world; the corn is an entity that they work with. They have no visibility into that other entity. But I do. Since I work with both entities as a consumer of their services, I can see both. I can see the mouse and the corn, and I know that mice love corn and there’s going to be a problem between those two. I have visibility that places the corn and the mouse in context. The service providers (yes, actually both) do not have any visibility into each other.

I’m getting tired of dealing with organizations that lack process visibility. It’s just as annoying as having to remind a waitress that she left half your dinner off the bill. I’m so anally honest that I don’t let it slide. I always bring the shortage up to the wait-staff even when they look at me like I’m an idiot for not taking the freebie. You feel like you work for the other company. You feel like you’re an auditor, working for free, guiding this other entity to a higher level of performance. No one likes to work for free for another company. I sure don’t. But those poor folks just can’t see the whole picture. I’m becoming a fan of corporate Darwinism – the view that some companies should not survive. Yet, each time I – as a consumer, not as a Gartner analyst – have to guide a company to do the right thing (Ummm, sir… you left the steak dinner off the bill), I feel like I’m unfairly propping up a company that shouldn’t be allowed to survive. It’s the same with process visibility. How much time have I burned because I can see A+B = C and the service provider (A or B) can’t even see that C exists?

Mice and corn. When the two mix, you get a mess. Can you see the corn? Or are you too busy running the maze.


P.S. – I originally had this as mouse and cheese, but that was way too close to a little book that was popular a few years ago, and I wasn’t interested in that accidental comparison.

P.P.S – Graphics are licensed Microsoft Clip Art.

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A BPM Doomsday Clock

by David McCoy  |  March 24, 2011  |  Submit a Comment

I like visual metaphors, so imagine this one. You have three actors:

  1. “The Man” or “The Woman.” Those management types.
  2. “The Workers.” Those wage slaves
  3. “The Process People.” Those gurus who claim to make life better.

What if each actor had a big wall clock? What if each clocks was labeled with a “tag” (e.g., “The Man”) and hung on the wall for everyone to see? What if all the clocks were side by side?

image   image   image  

Yawn… Three clocks, all showing the same time. Boring.

Well, these aren’t regular clocks. These are clocks that mimic the famous Doomsday Clock, counting down the minutes to nuclear annihilation (midnight). Only these clocks count down the “minutes before process collapse.”

Minutes before process collapse – a snarky McCoy-ism that one uses to describe how close to a total failure your particular business process is at any given time. It’s subjective. It’s relative. It’s not good to be close to midnight.

Now, what if each of the actors could set his or her clock, based on the collective perception of his or her cadre (e.g., management, worker, process people)? What time would each clock show? Would management set their clock a safe 56 minutes from midnight? Would “The workers” set theirs at 11:57? Would “The Process People” take their clock down and replace it with a poster of BPMN 2.0 symbols and an IOU for “One new process”?

What kind of message would the three clocks give off? Harmonious understanding of process problems? Blind optimism? Raging pessimism? Complete disregard for reality?

If you take me up on this – and you should – send me (david dot mccoy at gartner dot com) a picture of the three clocks and your written permission to post it. Don’t include any identifying information (company, stock symbol, your face, etc.) If your process is teetering on the brink of collapse, I don’t think your management will want that shared. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at where their clock is set. You might have to move a BPMN 2.0 poster (or a “Workers Unite” poster) to see it.

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Monday Mind Games: What if “BPM” – the term – didn’t Exist?

by David McCoy  |  March 21, 2011  |  Submit a Comment

If the collection of activities that we refer to as Business Process Management – aka BPM – wasn’t called BPM, what would it be called? Note, I’m assuming that the tenets and the underlying value proposition of BPM remain true, that the activities behind the name still exist. This isn’t a trivial exercise, even if it appears so on the surface.

What phrase/word/symbology would you say best characterizes “what it is that we claim to do,” assuming you can’t use “BPM” in your lexicon? Would your new acronym/label use some of these elements?

  • Innovation?
  • Bean counting?
  • Reimaging?
  • Fiddling?
  • Business evolution?
  • &^**(*(?

Thoughts welcomed.

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