The Three Snags
Business Process Management (BPM) is regarded as the proverbial knight in shining armor for businesses who can't seem to improve their business processes and are facing the prospect of decreased efficiency and increasing costs. No wonder the BPM market is expected to be worth $10 billion by 2020.
While there is no doubt about the dramatic transformation BPM can bring to your organization, there are plenty of 'ifs and buts' involved with the adoption of BPM that interfere with attempts to tame complex processes to improve efficiency and productivity.The challenge in using BPM is not the discipline itself, but the sheer number of skills, tools and attributes needed to ensure its effective handling. If you are planning to deliver core business value, you need to be on the alert for potential problems that can prevent your organization from fully realizing the benefits of BPM.
Think of these snags as mistakes/pitfalls/errors, and if you've been tasked with drawing up and implementing a BPM strategy for your organization, avoid them.
Here's taking a look at three such snags:
- You haven't got the hang of BPM yet
You spend a lot of time, money and energy in a cutting-edge business process management suite and are enthusiastic about its ability to deliver on the organization's expectations from it. Congratulations, you are on the right track! But, zeroing in on a comprehensive BPM suite is just one aspect of process management.
Having expectations from the software suite isn't a bad thing if you are perfectly conversant with BPM – the discipline. The problem is that many people see BPM purely from the technology point of view. For them, BPM begins and ends with choosing the right software and putting somebody in charge of that software (somebody you can blame if BPM doesn't seem to be delivering any value to the organization).
This is a big mistake. BPM is more about identifying the kinds of changes required to a particular process for it to improve. A large part of what BPM is all about is process mapping and analysis. The use of technology to sort out the problem comes at a later stage.
Also organizations can only realize the full potential of BPM when they focus on real value. Ask yourself the question – What is the core value I want BPM to deliver? Is it competitive advantage, cost reduction, quality improvement or something else? This will help you define the target metrics, which in turn will help you leverage the full potential of the technology you are investing in.
- Disinterest of Top Management
Unfortunately, the top echelons of the management can suffer from a gradual disinterest in driving the process improvement program in the organization. It's not that the senior leadership doesn't believe the organization does not need to enhance efficiency of the processes that aren't functioning well; it's just that they think it's a job that needs to be executed by the middle management. They just give the order and middle managers follow their diktat.
It is at this juncture that things have a tendency to fall apart. BPM more than anything else is about change as employees, managers and the top leadership have to take a close look at what they had been doing all this while and changing the way they worked or approached a problem. The whole organization will need to work in tandem to get the process changes going. The deployment of process improvement methodologies and their understanding shouldn't just be a mission critical task for individual responsible units but for everybody including the CEO.
Leadership cannot separate itself from bearing responsibility for BPM. The party doesn't start till the leadership gets itself involved in BPM and everything needed get the ball rolling.
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Value is Delivered but it Remains Unnoticed
There are many occasions when people who matter, ask, “Did that BPM team just deliver some value?” No! Alright carry on!
Do you know what just happened? The BPM team delivered some value to the organization, but it either didn't realize it, or couldn't convey the value to the people in charge. A simplistic reason for this gaffe can be the failure to keep a record of your success and all that you achieved.
But the roots of this problem go far deeper. The real problem is some organizations have very little understanding of measuring outcomes post BPM adoption. So, while the business processes are being improved and are delivering value, they are not being measured.
So, begin by establishing a baseline for measurement that allows you to make sense of the process that you are trying to change. What you are trying to do is to get an idea of the current state of the processes and their deliverables. This will help you quantify your process improvements better.
After working out the baseline, start determining your success metrics. Most BPM decisions are taken to achieve growth. And growth is measurable and business results are quantifiable. But this quantification will not happen without setting clear goals that can include high output, shorter process time, improved product/service quality etc.
The fact that you've already established a baseline allows you to compare the baseline measurement with the corresponding improvement. But don't just keep it to yourself. You must convey these metric to leaders in your organization. It's important that you are extremely communicative about the benefits accrued to the business by way of BPM.
Now, there might be a problem with the channels of communication and the way you are communicating your success with the people concerned. The key here is to learn the way the organization wants you to communicate and make the effort to transfer information accordingly. The message should not be lost in translation. And, it won't because the information you are conveying is based on sound tangible metrics.
Actually the false flags, the wrong turns and the challenges just keep on coming when it comes to BPM as you set about the long and arduous task of making process improvements. There is no end. You need to keep gathering process intelligence and making use of it to improve the specific business process. This ensures that nothing spoils your BPM party, ever!