Change is a popular word since Barack Obama so successfully used it in his campaign to become president of the US. Change almost became a synonym for “yes, we can”. Change, and things will improve. Suddenly change is sexy. We don’t seem to suffer from resistance to change anymore. People now LIKE to change?

Control usually is considered to almost be opposite to change. Control is not sexy. It is associated with accountants, budget restrictions, penalties, rules. It is considered to be counterproductive. You need it for compliance, but how easy would it be to change without control?

BPM is stuck in the middle. It used to be positioned as a technology that improves efficiency, effectiveness and quality. Cheaper, faster and better. But suddenly BPM is all about Agility. BPM for change. BPM is sexy too! At the same time, BPM is considered to be a tool for compliance, risk management and a means to guarantuee SLA’s, KPI’s, etc. Control!

So how can this be? BPM does not bring agility by itself. Nothing is more agile than processes that are not under control of any system. BPM is only called agile, because it gives more flexibility than built-in process control in legacy applications. At least, that is what we all believe (or say we believe). We call this the flexibility paradox. Process automation adds control, takes away flexibility and at the same time brings agility.


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    Russell, N., Hofstede, A., Edmond, D., Aalst, W.: Workflow Resource Patterns. BETA Working Paper Series, WP 127, Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven (2005)Google Scholar
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    Russell, N., van der Aalst, W., ter Hofstede, A.: Exception handling patterns in process-aware information systems. BPM Center Report BPM-06-04, BPMcenter. org, 06–04 (2006)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Hoogland
    • 1
  1. 1.Pallas AthenaApeldoornThe Netherlands

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