When, during a vendor presentation, the PowerPoint section separator mentions ‘Key Case Studies’ or something like that, you do one of the following –

  1. Lean forward in your chair and listen intently to see parallels to your own situation
  2. Yawn involuntarily. Or voluntarily, depending on who is running the slides.
  3. Interrupt at the 23rd second after the title of the next slide has been read, to ask – “did you use agile or waterfall?” and then drift into a rewarding cat-nap because waterfall isn’t relevant to you.
  4. Pay great attention to the section – because it is reminiscent of your days in MBA class.
  5. Roll your eyes and define a scenario and ask them pick one specific case that matches that scenario
  6. Ask “Was this a single vendor or a multi-vendor engagement? And then enjoy the squirming and bumbling that follows if it was a multi-vendor project. This is especially likely when SIs and implementation partners are making the presentation.

Case Studies may mean different things to different people, but they serve an important purpose. In fact several important purposes.

But then, if you are a vendor, an SI or even a firm that wants to share its successes in the public domain, you’ll know that the folks that look at your case studies with interest could be prospects or firms from different businesses on a similar path as yours, or, *shudder*,  your competition – which means they could learn from you and your successes and improve over those.

In other words, “@$&@^#^%!!! Lets not publish our Success!”

For perhaps that reason, in the world of BPM – and this is my opinion and I could well be wrong (correct me in the comments box, please) – the number of firms sharing case studies of their successes  stories is probably much less than the real number of successes out there.

It takes ‘something’ to publish success stories. For, while it may help you achieve your agenda of visibility, credibility and whatever other benefits you seek for yourself, you are aware it also helps the technology adopting community and all the players in general – and you are okay with it. That would be a positive approach to things.

And there will always some who prefer to be tight fisted and closeted and very private about their successes. But successes inspire and sharing it comes back eventually. It raises all boats.

But here is the question that has been playing on my mind recently – what does it take for someone to publish a case story of an initiative that was not necessarily successful? Obviously it takes something far more significant than being open to publishing successes. I was quite taken by this article titled Heavy ERP customization no longer in vogue, experts and customers agree, by Todd Morrison.

The article features views from Maersk Line and County of Sacramento, California and their learning from rather long and laborious SAP implementation programs. What struck me about this article, is the amount of insight and learning there is from their messages for the SAP adopting/implementing community. Technology adopters like Maersk do a great service by sharing such stories of their mistakes, learning and faltering that aren’t really about blowing their own trumpet.

Closer home in our own BPM space, Analysts have repeatedly predicted that a high percentage of BPM programs will fail if organizations don’t adopt the right methodologies and practices. If there have been several failures, It will be great for the community to know about them – and discuss and analyze and understand the various causes of failure.

As the industry itself is growing and vendors and SIs fighting for their space, it is probably too early to talk about sharing failure stories, but yet we are at a stage where it is such stories that will most help the industry itself mature faster.

In fact we are only now seeing more successes being published. Today there are awards for BPM excellence – thanks to the likes of Gartner (BPM excellence awards). Future Strategies (publishes winning case studies in book format), etc., organizations are encouraged to talk about their success stories.

Product vendors have a bigger incentive to publish success stories and Pega is by far the best example of a BPM vendor that has focused the most on Case Studies, particularly transformational outcomes. They have managed to get almost every customer of theirs who has had success to join hands with them in this. I was at PegaWorld13 earlier this year and wrote about Pega’s focus on publishing customer success stories. Their focus is exemplary, to say the least.

So as more vendors follow that path of Pega, the community will continue getting inspired and richer with insights to not just achieve success, but to also form more vivid visions for themselves.

And when we start seeing discussions around stories that aren’t happy successes, then we can say we are moving into a next stage of maturity as an industry.


  1. Harsimran December 8, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    Good one..
    Please share some links of the failure stories like you mentioned about what Maersk Line publishes esp failure stories by Pega in banking & financial services space….attended a session in Dev Conf, Hyd relating to Customer Success Stories (got a full 24 stories booklet), none around failure.
    Thank you

  2. Jaisundar December 8, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    Thanks for the Comment – The link is in the article above. You will find the link in the italicized title of the article.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *