This post originally appeared in the Simplifying Processes blog by Matt Spears.
Are you planning for Business Process Management (BPM) implementation?
Common problems with digital transformation efforts are often driven by technological advancements instead of supported by them. This can result in several negative, and unintended consequences (monetary losses, increased cultural resistance to change, and processing errors and defects that require human resources to repair).
If we are to avoid jumping the gun in implementing new technology and thus, experiencing these consequences, we must first clearly understand the people and processes this technology is intended to support.
What is BPM?
BPM can be the mechanism by which we “learn to see” opportunities for improvement and change within our existing work structures, allowing us to maximize the value generated by implementing a new technology. As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a good first impression. It stands to reason that our digital transformation efforts only get one chance to make a good first impression with our line-of-business customers. BPM can help us make it count.
“The practice of improving company performance through managing and optimizing business processes.”
What does this look like as it functions within a business? Imagine a world where your organization’s business processes are clearly defined, accessible, kept relevant by subject matter experts, and continuously improved. This is what effective BPM looks like. It’s not a one-time documentation effort to satisfy third-party auditors or a half-baked idea from the executive team to “do that process thing that everyone else is doing.” In a sense, BPM is not simply a means to an end, but an end in-and-of-itself.
Understanding the people and processes impacted by our digital transformation efforts is critical to the success of the effort, and that BPM is an appropriate methodology to clearly see those people and processes, we now must ask “How does one go about implementing BPM?”
Like any other business transformation effort, BPM must follow the time-tested change management methodology of Plan, Do, Check, Act (the PDCA cycle – check out this short video for more information).
Let’s better understand the first of the change management methodology –
“Plan” or “Planning phase” at a high level: Planning for business process management consists of three main parts.
1. Crafting a vision
By deciding upon a process governance structure and selecting a technology platform, and communicating with the project stakeholders. Much ink has been spilled over the years regarding vision statements, and rightfully so. Consider this quote from change management expert John Kotter:
“without an appropriate vision, a transformation effort can easily dissolve into a list of confusing, incompatible, and time-consuming projects that go in the wrong direction or nowhere at all.”
It’s important to remember that your vision statement is not simply a checklist of things that are to be done, but a document that paints a clear picture of the problems being experienced and provides direction and motivation for people to follow in pursuit of a solution.
2. Governance and technology
Successful BPM implementation seeks to marry the correct process platform and appropriate methodology of process governance. For example, if you desire your line-of-business employees to get involved in managing processes, the technology you select must be suitable to engage those persons and not act as a barrier to their involvement.
This is where so many organizations get it wrong – they desire the line-of-business to take ownership of their processes yet provide them with a complex process tool designed for a formally-trained business analyst. This misstep of combining the right process governance strategy (line-of-business process ownership) with the wrong process tool (complex solution designed for the business analyst) can lead to frustration, disengagement, and ultimately – unreliable and irrelevant process documentation. To avoid this problem, an organization must:
3. Selecting a process tool
When planning for BPM implementation, it is important to consider that your process tool is:
- Simple to use
- Promotes accessible process information
- And supports healthy, line-of-business process ownership.
This is where a solution such as Promapp – a G2 Crowd BPM Leader – can be of tremendous value. Not only does Promapp facilitate simple process documentation and management – it is designed to specifically to support the line-of-business process governance methodology. Regardless of the process platform you choose to deploy, insist upon a technology that provides process simplicity, accessibility, and governance.
- Stakeholder communication
After establishing a vision, and selecting a process management platform and governance methodology, you now must establish lines of communication with your various stakeholders. I find it helpful to think of your stakeholders at three different levels
- line-of-business partners,
- middle-management and strategic corporate partners, and
- executive leadership.
It is critical to ensure that these stakeholders understand the BPM vision statement and buy into the effort. During these conversations, it is helpful to explain clearly the expectations of each stakeholder regarding their involvement in the implementation.
The specific responsibilities of each stakeholder will vary from organization to organization, but generally, you can expect the following:
- The line-of-business partners will be heavily involved in creating and managing process knowledge.
- The middle-management team and strategic corporate partners will play an important role in allocating the necessary human resources for achieving documentation and ongoing process management.
- Finally, the executive leadership team will need to support the effort through clear and consistent top-down communication strategies.
 John Kotter, Leading Change (Harvard Business Review Press, 2012), 8.
Watch this Nintex Promapp® on-demand video demonstration to better understand what best practice BPM solutions can deliver.