This article is about some of the things that contribute to frustration and failures when implementing Business Process Management (BPM) projects. Whether you are new to BPM or an experienced BPM consultant, hopefully this will help you understand BPM and think about how to eliminate some of the mistakes of the past.
Before we dive into the “things that can go wrong” – we first need to understand the purpose of BPM and its origins. You might be thinking “why does this matter?” Well, it matters because many projects fail because people don’t fully understand the purpose of BPM.
The story of BPM can be quite exhaustive - one could argue that it dates back to 1911 when Frederik Taylor published “The principles of scientific management” . So, to keep a long story short - let’s center our attention on the objectives of BPM - not its entire history. To understand BPM, it might help us to first define it in simple terms:
BPM is a discipline that uses methods to discover, model, analyze, measure, improve and optimize business processes .
Notice that the definition seems to have two parts: The first (discover, model, and analyze) and second (measure, improve, and optimize). The first part focus on uncovering the process and analyzing it – whereas the second part is about collecting information to help understand and improve the process.
This makes a lot of sense, before we can do anything with the process there are a few things that we need to know; what purpose does the process have, what does the process look like, which systems does it use, who are the people involved, what information does it coordinate, and what outcomes does it support? Only after the process has been defined, visualized, and understood can one begin to improve it. This might sound like a trivial thing, but it is not!
The next step is to begin measuring your processes i.e. collection data on how much time is spent, associated costs, how many errors occur and uncovering bottlenecks. These measurements can then be saved to data warehouses and visualized via reports and/or dashboards. At this point, organizations will have the necessary empirical evidence to start thinking of ways to improve and optimize their processes. Confirmed improvement are then implemented whether they are changes to the process flow or adding robotic automation to help on specific activities. The real value of BPM is that this whole cycle continues which help make your processes transparent, flexible and efficient.
Now that you are more familiar with BPM, we can begin discussing the issues that might arise and how to make sense of them. Following this paragraph, a collection of “things to avoid” are listed in order of importance and explained as concise as possible. Here we go!
(1) Don’t forget your business case. Identifying the expected benefits of the BPM project is key, without it you have no way of determining the effort and how success will be measured. Essentially, the business case is the whole reason for doing anything to begin with.
(2) Business case don’t align with company strategy. Think about the reason behind your company’s existence. Make sure the business case aligns with the company’s strategic initiatives – everything else would be counterproductive.
(3) Scramble to setup a team. It is important to spend time finding people with the right skills, experience, mindset, willingness, and backgrounds to take full advantage of BPM. Be honest about the time and capabilities of your employees. It might be a good idea to find trusted partners that can help you compose the right team that suits your needs.
(4) Don’t make BPM projects IT driven. BPM should not be led by IT, and it should revolve around the BPM software (BPMS). The IT and the software are there to support and promote business process efforts not the other way around.
(5) Using BPMS for everything. BPM software have been created to facilitate process design, development, maintenance, and optimization. As a result, the benefits of digitalizing a business process and running it on BPMS are vast. However, the benefits of developing a regular application in BPMS are limited and unproductive. Make sure you use the software as intended -it will save your developers from a lot of pain and frustration.
(6) Don’t start with a complex process. When you start small it allows organizations to better evolve and learn at the right pace. Beginning with a process that is simple - makes it easier for the people to get involved and contribute with knowledge and new ideas. What is more, it increases the chances of success, so much of getting BPM to become part of the organization comes from people seeing and understanding the benefits.
It is likely that you have and will encounter some of the potential issues listed above. However, by now you will be better equipped to see the warning signs and make the necessary changes early. BPM offers so many benefits that are of crucial value to modern organizations e.g. agility, efficiency and customer value creation. In the digital age, ever-changing customer need, rapid technological progress and ongoing changes in market conditions force organizations to continuously adapt their business processes. Organizations must implement relevant methods, technologies and the right people in order to compete.
At ABP, we have the expertise and people to consult on business process management and automation initiatives; helping you to get the most out of your time, efforts, and investments. Leave a comment below, send an email, find us on LinkedIn or give us a call.