Cultural resistance main cause of BPM project failure

Human nature, rather than the complexity of implementing technology, is the biggest barrier to companies adopting successful...

Human nature, rather than the complexity of implementing technology, is the biggest barrier to companies adopting successful business process management strategies.

Analyst Forrester Group says too many organisations believe they can implement business process management (BPM) with "nothing more than a comprehensive set of tools and a good return on investment story".

Forrester warned that failure to also effectively address cultural resistance and "organisational desire" can lead to even the best-intentioned BPM projects failing.

Forrester analyst Ken Vollmer said, "Cultural resistance tends to be a ‘bottom-up’ phenomenon that occurs when people working in individual work groups sabotage improvement efforts due to resistance to change driven by fear of potential job losses."

Vollmer said that "organisational desire" can play an equally damaging part in curtailing successful BPM projects.

"Organisational desire is a ‘top-down’ organisational attribute that relates to the willingness of the senior management team to forcefully drive process improvement efforts throughout the organisation, in the face of resistance to loss of management authority within the operating units," he said.

To overcome cultural resistance, Forrester recommended companies embarking on a BPM project should consider forming a process improvement team made up of key individuals from each of the functional areas involved in the process.

The team should be chartered with analysing process bottlenecks, evaluating possible remedies, and implementing corrective action.

This approach, says Forrester, fosters teamwork between the functional groups, and results in a situation where the people with the deepest working knowledge of the process are the ones that end up "selling" the improvements to the rest of the organisation.

Cultural resistance then gradually fades into the background, said Forrester.

To tackle organisational desire, Forrester suggested that BPM project efforts should start with a strong senior management commitment that is clear, concise, and highly visible to the entire organisation.

This should address concerns certain managers may have about their own positions in the organisation.

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