How to do a BPM initiative

Business process management can offer organisations the opportunity to stimulate, design and deliver business transformation on an ongoing, repeatable basis. Since business process management (BPM) typically makes an impact on the whole organisation, as well as challenging the organisational structure itself, BPM projects are very complex and offer significant management challenges.

Business process management can offer organisations the opportunity to stimulate, design and deliver business transformation on an ongoing, repeatable basis. Since business process management (BPM) typically makes an impact on the whole organisation, as well as challenging the organisational structure itself, BPM projects are very complex and offer significant management challenges.

Because of this, many suffer delays or don't deliver their expected benefits. What follows is a list of 15 things to consider when beginning a BPM initiative:

  1. Executive business sponsorship
  2. Implementation without expertise
  3. Running before you can walk
  4. Reducing headcount
  5. BPM functionally
  6. Irrational decisions
  7. Choosing technology
  8. End-users
  9. Adequate support
  10. Automation
  11. Building point solutions
  12. Close-coupled integration
  13. Too much control
  14. Building a common language
  15. Enjoy your success

 

Executive business sponsorship

If you don't have senior level backing for your BPM initiative, you'll find making the necessary organisational and process changes extremely difficult.

Implementation without expertise
If you think you can implement a business process management system (BPMS) yourself without securing the necessary expertise, the program will fail.

Running before you can walk
There is a lot of promise and potential with BPM, but don't try to do too much, too soon. Use the early stages to learn from experience, decide on what management information you'll need and ensure your methodology is fit for purpose.

Reducing headcount
BPM is about business transformation and continual improvement. Headcount reduction is a secondary benefit. If you're using BPM just to reduce headcount, you'll find the user community retreats and it becomes impossible to encourage adoption.

BPM functionally
BPM cuts across your organisation and it is a cross-organisation solution. You should be process-centric and ignore functional boundaries, at least until you're ready to talk about incentives and controls with functional owners.

Irrational decisions
Avoid falling into the trap of over-confidence and not making decisions with all the facts and with the involvement of stakeholders. Small decisions in BPM can have long-term consequences.

Choosing technology
Vendors will always come knocking with reams of case-studies on how successful their product is. Avoid them. Be sure what BPM means to your organisation first, and then look at the processes and technology.

End-users
Your End-users will make or break your BPM initiative by their choice to embrace it or ignore it. As process participants, your users are key to overall productivity, so make BPM about them and their job rather than about technology.

Adequate support
Make sure you provide all the support for End-users so that they're concerned with getting their job done rather than worrying about incentives and policies.

Automation
If you automate processes that don't work as you want them to, you'll just be making what doesn't work happen faster. You should be automating only what works. Only automate a process once it is performing optimally.

Building point solutions
BPM should be an organisational capability, not just a solution to a current problem or opportunity. BPM is continual improvement and that should be your primary goal.

Close-coupled integration
BPM and SOA have gone hand in hand over recent years. Use sound SOA principles to avoid integrating your applications too tightly - otherwise you'll have to change process logic every time you change your core application, and vice-versa.

Too much control
One of the benefits of BPM is it puts more control back into the business, supported by IT. But don't be fooled into thinking that the business can take on everything. Deep knowledge of the underlying IT services that enable your BPMS is needed to effectively deliver solutions.

Building a common language
For many organisations, BPM is a new concept and requires new skills and management practices and these bring along a new language of terms. Your organisation, therefore, needs to gain a common understanding of the terms before you get too far in the initiative.

Enjoy your success
BPM can be a long slog, and there will be casualties. So you should take each success as an opportunity to celebrate and enjoy the kudos.

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