It’s true that ‘platform’ sounds like Marketing-speak. But there’s an important distinction between a process tool and a process platform. And it’s not widely appreciated, which is why so many organizations continue to waste so many millions of dollars on process tools that can never deliver what they are looking for: operational excellence and continuous improvement.
TIBCO Nimbus Control is a process platform. Others will no doubt catch up, but it remains the leader. It creates an integrated business management platform that underpins quality and compliance. It enables collaboration on performance improvement within a robust governance framework. It orchestrates every aspect of business transformation. It delivers the content that supports real work, to every desktop and mobile, and it engages people across the enterprise in continuous improvement. And to achieve this, to create this platform for operational excellence, it uses the language and rigor of end-to-end business process.
A tool is for a particular and more limited purpose. A process tool tends to be focussed on the needs of a project, and to be discarded afterwards, its content filed away. Whereas a process platform assumes re-use and longevity, a mindset of sustainable excellence
Process tools can be essential – in software package configuration or other automation projects, for instance. But, at best, they can only provide a complete view of the enterprise from the perspective of what’s automated. Whereas a process platform aspires to create a joined-up and holistic view of the enterprise.
Process tools have dominated up to now. And they are a big reason why process thinking has taken so long to penetrate the C-Suite. Execs can see that, by and large, process tools offer only IT perspectives on the enterprise. Even worse, they are usually also incomplete and ungoverned, and describe process in the language of IT.
Process platforms are the future. There’s still C-Level resistance in some organizations – mostly because both process tools and process platforms start with a visualization of process as boxes and lines. So, at first glance, they are both ‘just process drawing tools’. Yawn…
But how process is visualized matters enormously. Organizations that choose the language of a process tool, such as BPMN or EPC, which are focussed on automation and the needs of an IT audience, will get very different results from organizations choosing to adopt the language of a process platform, such as Nimbus UPN, which sets out to describe end-to-end processes in a way that everyone can understand.
And, anyway, a process platform is about boxes and lines as much as Shakespeare is about words and sentences.
Reduced to basics, it’s true to say that the Bard just wrote words and formed sentences like every other playwright and poet. “To be or not to be? That is the question.” It’s words in a sentence. But Hamlet is a tragedy that has moved audiences for over four hundred years. It has meaning and value far beyond the words from which it is composed.
Less dramatically, a process platform too has meaning and value to the enterprise far beyond the activity boxes, lines and diagrams from which it is composed. I’m not exactly confident that it’s going to be around in four hundred years – but, for the foreseeable future, the process platform is the essential enabler for operational excellence and continuous improvement.