BPM in Chevron

A new book, ‘BPM Boots on the Ground’ provides an unusual insight into the IT workings of a supermajor and traces the 30 year career of a business process practitioner.

Jim Boots’ new book, ‘BPM Boots on the Ground,*’ provides many fascinating insights into his 30 year career with Chevron where he was latterly manager of Chevron’s BPM efforts. It is an unusual, possibly unique account, combining in-depth domain knowledge and opinion, with much chapter and verse from the transformation of Chevron’s fuel supply chain and the development of an upstream process model.

Boots on the Ground is a well written narrative that begins with Boots’ earlier experiences of total quality management, six sigma, ERP and supply chain management initiatives. These included Chevron’s project development and execution process in the 1990s and the 2001 operational excellence push, now ‘an important part of Chevron’s culture.’ A key milestone in Chevron’s BPM journey occurred in 2004 when its shipping unit identified Nimbus Control’s BPM technology as bringing ‘a whole new level of rigor and engagement to process management.’

Boots believes that pinning down business processes so that they cannot be circumvented by short cuts would help avoid disasters. ‘In ten years or so, disasters due to process failures, like the Deepwater Horizon will not happen because computerized verification will ensure that each compliance step has been completed in the proper sequence.’ A process model helps articulate and pinpoint shortcomings ‘in ways that are simply not possible when relying on language alone.’

Curiously, Boots, while acknowledging the Object Management Group’s notation (BPMN) as a route to cross vendor standardization, considers its semantics ‘befuddling’ and prefers Tibco/Nimbus’ proprietary Universal Process Notation. Microsoft SharePoint (but not BizTalk) is recognized as ‘an important enabling platform for process management.’ Chapters include a scorecard of Chevron’s maturity in each field. Today, Chevron’s uses mostly custom code and commercial off-the-shelf applications. Boots predicts that ‘within five years, almost every Fortune 500 company will be utilizing a workflow platform.’

Boots on the Ground provides an informative world view from the standpoint of a BPM practitioner. It could benefit with clarification on the relationship between BPM, workflow, enterprise architecture and other contributing technologies. Visit Boots’ base camp and Nimbus.

* BPM Boots on the Ground. ISBN: 9780929652160. M-K Press.

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