Earlier today, BPM.com’s Managing Editor Peter Schooff, asked members How Do You Make Sure BPM Doesn’t Get Overwhelmed by Too Much Data?  I found the question to have a similar theme to my earlier post on Define Aspects of Your Business. I felt extra prepared to answer and posted my take on the question, too.  After giving it some more thought this evening, I wanted to go into more of my experience and ideas on decoupling data and process.

When I work with a business that is trying to get a handle on it’s business process management, I find it impossible to solve without tackling how they are storing their data as well.  Many companies are still using spreadsheets and emails to facilitate their process because those are the tools that were available to them when they started.  However, by the time I get involved, they are fully aware that the tools they started with have not scaled well in the business.  I worked with a company that had been physically mailing documents from locations in the same city adding days to their process!  When you have a KPI tied to your process, efficiency could mean the difference between keeping a contract and laying off workers.

So, how do we decouple data and process while at the same time allow them to work together?  In Fuse, we embraced the idea that it’s the process that sets the data in motion.  On one hand, we have an extremely robust solution for storing data important to the business. On the other, we have a process engine that any business professional can use to create a process flow that matches how they do business.  These First-Class Citizens of Fuse meet seamlessly in the application when searching, creating reports, and designing dashboards.

Performing analysis on a process is important to validating that it’s working as expected.  While Fuse offers tools that enable process analysis, I think it’s just as important that the process is easy to change.  There is simplicity when you decouple the data from the process when making updates.  Being able to inspect a process, identify an improvement, and apply that change immediately without a fear of affecting the underlying data is an empowering feeling.

I have a saying, “Build it bad and we’ll make it better.”  I tell that to developers when I feel like they are getting stuck on an approach.  The same holds true for designing a process.  Are you going to come up with the worlds most amazing Customer Correspondence process on the first try?  Even if you copied an “industry standard” process, how many times has that worked perfectly for a client?  There are always new ways to look at how a business can solve a problem.  How quickly can your software adapt?