IT is an acronym crazed world. So crazy that sometimes – when running out of three letter ones – we simply recycle them or add sequence numbers. Remember MRP, which used to mean Material Requirements Planning, but then became Manufacturing Resource Planning (called MRP II to avoid confusion), to only a couple of years – and a few trillion of investments – later, resurface as ERP.In that era the term BPR also became popular. BPR stood for Business Process Re-engineering (see for example Hammer, M. and Champy, J. A.: (1993) Reengineering the Corporation: A Manifesto for Business Revolution
), a movement that in my perspective really gained steam from the realization that throwing new technology (ERP) at existing processes, only offered limited improvement potential. As Business Process Re-engineering often resulted in massive redundancies and layoffs, BPR got kind of a bad rap, especially among employees and unions (remember those?). Today the term Business Process Redesign is a more socially acceptable reincarnation, and even though that could fly under the same acronym (eg. BPR II), people seem to prefer to call it by its full name.Nowadays all the buzz is around cloud. And also here people are finding that just throwing this new idea at existing processes is not bringing the benefits expected, not to mention that the cost of absorbing it into our existing ways of working is very high (remember how much we spend on trying to force fit ERP packages into our existing processes by modifying them beyond recognition, only to reimplement these packages a few years and a few releases later in a more off the shelf manner?).And increasingly the topic of adapting processes to the cloud is becoming popular. Last month my note “Cloud Solution Providers Ignore Customer Processes at Their own Peril
” published, and this month KPMG published a study called “the cloud takes shape
“. In that study KPMG uses the term Business Process Redesign and states “One of the most important lessons uncovered by this year’s research is that business process redesign must occur in tandem with cloud adoption if organizations hope to achieve the full potential of their cloud investments.
” In my note I describe the need to challenge the status quo on processes using the term Cloud Process Re-engineering (the cloud generation is likely to have a less emotional response to re-engineering, while some of its disruptiveness still rings through).
Some IT departments I speak to seem to think of cloud computing largely as a way to move their applications to the cloud. But if an enterprise organization with thousands of applications running in their datacenter, moves these apps to the cloud, they will still have thousands of apps. And more importantly those apps will do the same they did before, just running somewhere else (so you might ask “why bother?” as the savings on hardware, housing and electricity are small compared to the overall cost and today’s management is much more interested in new (revenue) possibilities and agility than in efficiencies that in the end form a mere rounding error in the companies overall bottom line). If organizations however look at each process and decide how the cloud can optimally support or even completely eliminate that process (for example through Business Process as a Service (BPaaS) or by participating in multienterprise applications) the potential impact can become much more significant.
The idea of optimizing processes to new realities – for example through Business Process Management (BPM) – is not new and covered broadly in Gartner’s existing body of research. Cloud practioners – both consumers and providers of cloud services – should take an interest in this softer, more human, side of the cloud.*
PS. Whether CPR will turn out to become the acronym that replaces BPR is debatable, also as it seems to be already firmly taken by the medical profession (for both the life saving CardioPulmonary Resuscitation and for Computer-based Patient Records).