Business Process Management skills are a hot commodity these days. A HotJobs query typically returns 50,000 job openings that required some degree of business process expertise. But what exactly is the skill set of a BPM expert? Here’s a hint: Not everybody needs to be fluent in BPEL. And how many different flavors of BPM experts are there? Those who build and implement process support systems require a different focus from those who evaluate and design work processes.
BPM Roles and Skill Sets
Knowledge about processes comes in useful at different levels of the corporate hierarchy.
Executives are concerned with issues of corporate performance and compliance. They need to know how the operational processes of their organization feed their measurement tools (Balanced Scorecards and Strategy Maps). They need to be able to identify strengths and weaknesses in the process portfolio of the organization. And they need to understand what process governance structure is appropriate for their organization and how it can be implemented. Executives are not necessarily interested in high fidelity process maps, but need to understand the position of their organization in the value chain that reaches from suppliers to customers. Process analytics capabilities are becoming a sought-after feature, and an understanding of what you can do with the insights gathered from BAM and BI tools will make a difference at this level.
Business Analysts analyze, document, and improve processes. They need to understand the needs of the business unit they work with, how the objectives of the process under evaluation align with overall corporate goals, and what process improvement patterns may be applicable in the current situation. Business Analysts use formal process maps to document as-is and to-be work processes, so they need to be conversant in process mapping techniques such as BPMN. They need to understand how the diagrams that they create can be organized to form a process architecture, both in terms of hierarchy (from value chain to workflow) and landscape (from supplier-facing to customer-facing processes). At the same time, they need some technical understanding of the capabilities that process support systems provide, and how these capabilities can be leveraged to triage processes into straight-through processing branches and human interaction branches, create work support systems, and leverage emerging technical architectures such as an enterprise service bus.
Systems Analysts create solutions around the to-be processes documented by Business Analysts, and they maintain and design solutions around existing processes. Their skill set is dominated by a deep understanding of the technical capabilities of BPMS and ancillary technologies, such as document management systems, messaging infrastructures, and portal technology. Like Business Analysts, Systems Analysts work with a formal documentation of the process being supported, and they may embellish the BPMN diagrams from the Business Analyst with constructs that relate to technical implementation details, such as messaging interactions, and automated steps that are outside the view of business users. In addition, Systems Analysts need to understand how to translate these specifications into a running implementation, using whatever platform their company has available. So in addition to a generic BPM skill set, Systems Analysts require vendor-specific education about the features and deployment guidelines of their technical BPM platform.
BPM Vendors and Systems Integrators need to understand the context of their solutions. Their professional services organization often works with their client’s Systems Analysts to deploy specific BPM solutions. In addition to the requisite technical skills to design and implement BPM systems, vendors increasingly develop methodologies for the deployment of their systems, which are based on a set of project management and product-specific skills. In addition, vendors need to build an understanding of the vertical industries that they serve. Part of this industry-specific knowledge is an understanding of vertical integration standards in domains such as finance, healthcare, or insurance, which their systems need to conform to.
BPM by Stevens
Stevens Institute of Technology offers BPM courses and certificates at the executive, graduate, and undergraduate level. Our courses range from single-day seminars to fully accredited graduate courses with 35 contact hours. Courses can be delivered online and on premises, in addition to our award-winning campus in Hoboken, NJ, across the Hudson river from midtown Manhattan.