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Survey Finds BPM Projects Lack Architecture

Organizations embarking on business process management need to bring in IT architects earlier in the process, according to a report released last week.

Only 52 percent of organizations classified as leaders have enterprise architecture teams leading their BPM efforts, a Web survey of 135 enterprises, showed. Of those described as followers, only 31 percent had enterprise architects leading the efforts.

The report is particularly noteworthy in that the survey was designed by the International Association of Software Architects (IASA) in partnership with the IT research firm Macehiter Ward-Dutton. IASA is a highly regarded non profit organization in support of software architects with 6,000 members.

While not totally surprising, the findings give further evidence of a key barrier to successful BPM intiatives, according to MWD research director Neil Ward-Dutton, who authored the report. The bottom line is BPM projects often fail or hit roadblocks because they are initiated and kicked off by business leaders rather than enterprise architects, Ward-Dutton said.

"Almost all the time, architects get brought in relatively late in the day," Ward-Dutton said in an interview. "They retrospectively figure out what kind of technology the company just bought in and have to figure out how that going to integrate with what we’ve got and so on."

Yet in cases where architects do get involved earlier in BPM projects, they tend to go well, he said. "It’s really important for architects to be involved, not only from the technology perspective but looking at some of the business architecture perspectives," he said. "That means really looking at these processes that the BPM investment is going to try to prove and how those really fit into the broader picture of what the business is trying to do with IT."

The role of architects, he added, is particularly important because they help drive standards for integration and software development. "If you think about information, business objects, and services that are going to be used as common approaches to development and so on and so on, it’s really important for architects to be involved."

While it is important for business executives and CIOs to apply architecture, it is also incumbent on architects to step up and make their case, he said.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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