Enabling Operational Excellence
Enabling Operational Excellence
Enabling Operational Excellence
Enabling Operational Excellence


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MetaProcess vs. Something More than a Process

Amit Mitra, Senior Manager at TCS America, commented[1]: Is there such a thing as a metaprocess? Yes, there is! I am teaching the metaprocess in a master’s course … as a part of an overall model of knowledge that integrates reasoning, measurement, business rules, and process. Indeed, you can infer the business functionality required of the ideal BPM tool from the properties and parameters of the metaprocess (No current tools support them all, but they do support the most obvious properties). The metaprocess also accounts for progressively unstructured processes, and processes that reason about themselves, to infer how they could adapt to different situations. My reply: Interesting indeed. However, what is your definition of process? I think the key part of what a process is (and isn’t) is that it transforms something (turns raw material into finished goods, inputs into outputs). Business rules never transform anything – that’s a key differentiator from business processes. Reasoning and measurement ‘transform’ something only in a trivial sense. My point is that the thing you’ve created a meta- for isn’t really a process. It’s more comprehensive. It’s more like core business know-how or core business capability. The industry desperately needs a better name for the kind of thing you’re creating … because it’s central to moving toward a knowledge economy (and a more rational, sustainable way of doing business). ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Eric Ducos, CTO of EmeriCon, commented: Is there such a thing as a metaprocess? I would definitely think so. A methodology for identifying, analyzing and building a BPM solution is a metaprocess (i.e. a process to build a process). My reply: I agree except for the word methodology. A methodology is more than a process. It includes rules and guidelines, for example. Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary (MWUD) defines methodology as (1a):

a body of methods, procedures, working concepts, rules, and postulates employed by a science, art, or discipline.

But here’s a thought: There could be such a thing as a meta-methodology … a methodology indicating how to create (other) methodologies. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ John Morris, Director, Solutions Sales at Bosch Software Innovations, commented: In terms of driving work on metaprocesses, I suspect that tort law, regulation and compliance issues might eventually prove to be motivators, more than competition. One might think that having good software would be guaranteed by competition, especially as the information content of most products and services is increasing. The governance challenge, however, is that the semantic content of software is buried by “what you see” – i.e., the surface of the software. All too often that’s where discussion stops. My reply: I couldn’t agree more. That gets you into rules and meta-rules – i.e., into something more than processes. http://www.brsolutions.com/

 [1] This series of point/counterpoint replies is a follow-up to my post “Meta Here. Meta There. Meta Everywhere?” (March 31, 2014), which generated a surprising amount of great discussion. (Thanks all!) Refer to: http://www.brsolutions.com/2014/03/31/meta-here-meta-there-meta-everywhere/ The definition I’m using for meta- is from Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary [3b]:

3b: of a higher logical type – in nouns formed from names of disciplines and designating new but related disciplines such as can deal critically with the nature, structure, or behavior of the original ones *metalanguage* *metatheory* *metasystem*


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Ronald G. Ross

Ron Ross, Principal and Co-Founder of Business Rules Solutions, LLC, is internationally acknowledged as the “father of business rules.” Recognizing early on the importance of independently managed business rules for business operations and architecture, he has pioneered innovative techniques and standards since the mid-1980s. He wrote the industry’s first book on business rules in 1994.