How to ensure your business process management project works
Today, the business world has grown mindful of how essential the role is that processes play in a company’s financial well-being, hence business process management, or BPM, is gaining traction across industries.
According to Signavio, about 50% of the surveyed organisations are involved in at least one major workflow improvement project, and this number has remained the same for several years in a row.
But even though the methodology is tried and true and adopters usually spare no effort, BPM initiatives have a surprisingly high failure rate. The projects tend to get stalled down the road or, when completed, are unable to deliver the expected value.
Mary Dorogokupets, Technology Observer at Itransition offers four recommendations to help companies bring their BPM efforts to fruition and achieve the intended results.
1 Ensure leadership buy-in
Considering the improved business agility and increased efficiency BPM brings about, you’d think that C-suite would be most enthusiastic about its adoption. However, research by Signavio found senior management was the second most common obstacle to a BPM project success. Without executives’ interest or focus, BPM projects lose traction and clarity and, as leaders’ indifference trickles down to employees, they eventually come to a halt.
As an executive, don’t shift the responsibility for BPM adoption fully to your staff, even if it is a bottom-up initiative. Instead, take steps to become a supportive and consistent leader in times of such a fundamental change.
Begin with revising your business process management understanding and make sure you are well aware of the underlying principles and values. This way, you won’t steer your company towards the changes you don’t fully comprehend or support internally, and you will prevent confusing or botched results. If unsure that you can figure out BPM on your own, you can always seek competent guidance.
Also, make sure you establish trusting relationships with your employees. Asking for their feedback, answering their questions honestly, and sharing the project’s specifics openly will help establish your sense of ownership and allow you not to lose focus, not to mention improve BPM adoption outcomes.
2 Find the best-suited technology
As the BPM software market is burgeoning today, there is no doubt that there is a tool that’s right for you — but finding it can be a challenge. Leading software suites tempt with rich feature sets and advanced capabilities but can turn out costly, while narrow-focus tools may be less expensive and more manageable but can prove limiting.
Instead of making decisions based solely on what you can or can’t afford, factor in the following aspects to ensure a more wise choice:
● Usability A critical factor in successful and quick software adoption and minimized user frustration down the line, ease of use should be prioritized when selecting a BPM solution, especially when your staff has no prior experience with such tools.
● Ease of integration A BPM tool needs data from legacy software to function properly, and the easiest way to ensure a consistent information flow is through integration. Pay attention to the integration paths BPM suites offer and whether they are suitable for your software infrastructure.
● Scalability Finally, make sure the BPM software can be smoothly scaled up and extended to support your future business growth or expansion.
3 Set up relevant KPIs
Embarking on BPM transformation, many companies make the mistake of not setting explicit metrics for success and failure beforehand. But without KPIs, it’s impossible to fully control BPM adoption and evaluate the positive changes that BPM automation has led to, or detect faults and gaps in the altered workflows. As a result, there is a high chance the project will get bogged down and never live up to expectations.
There are two types of KPIs that BPM adopters need: long-term ones, to help understand if the desired business goals are achieved, and short-term ones, to reflect specific immediate changes in the altered processes. For each indicator, stakeholders should establish acceptable ranges and make sure there is matching historical data about the process performance to compare against the post-BPM implementation insights.
Since every process (and company) is different, there is no unified metrics for BPM implementation. When coming up with KPIs, companies should obviously keep in mind their global business goals, but more importantly, seek opinions of process participants, your employees or even customers, as they have the best understanding of the workflow’s performance and how to accurately track it.
4 Reengineer your business processes
A common misconception about BPM is that you deploy the software to support the process — then it's in the bag. But in reality, streamlining the workflow that has already proven inefficient will never amount to anything, even if the tools are the best you could get. Thus, you need to revamp the workflow, rooting out poor practices, redundancies, and bottlenecks before proceeding with the BPM automation roll-out.
Reengineering begins with the assessment of the workflow’s current state. Again, for accurate insights on what is wrong, stakeholders need to turn to people directly involved in the process without, however, overlooking hard data, if there is one.
Next comes the analysis of the gathered insights, when you match employees’ or customers’ feedback with process metrics to identify problem areas in need of fixing. Having validated the changes, you can get down to process modelling, or creating a graphical representation of the altered process. You can always go for a good old pen and paper if you are chasing deadlines, but there is a gamut of dedicated software with drag-and-drop interfaces that make process modelling easy and intuitive while also providing valuable suggestions.
The reengineered process needs to be tested and, after its implementation, monitored for some time to make sure it runs smoothly and as expected.
The bottom line
Business process management does not require dramatic transformations or advanced technology, but it can prove game-changing for your business efficiency, workflow visibility, and customer and employee satisfaction. Still, for the BPM automation efforts to come to fruition, adopters need to take extensive preparatory measures, such as securing leadership support, selecting proper software, establishing success metrics, and remodelling poor business processes.
Who is Mary Dorogokupets?
Mary Dorogokupets is a Technology Observer at Itransition, a Denver-based software development company. With over four years of experience working with IT professionals, Mary follows and analyses the trends of digital transformation and business process management across verticals.