BPM: A Short Guide
Business process management or BPM can easily become a buzzword and a needlessly applied and useless approach to improving your business if it isn’t done for the right reasons. What’s more, the early stages of business process management can become immediate, crippling failures if not done right.
1) To help you out, make sure that your case satisfies the following before you implement BPM:
- Use BPM technology when automating a process that is likely to be a component in one or more high-level business processes.
You need a high-level model for a broad, abstract look at your business processes. While this model may not contribute to the majority of the BPM itself, it will help you identify where to start. You need to pinpoint the lower processes that can deliver the most impact through the high-level model.
- Use BPM technology when automating a process that is likely to be supported by a heterogeneous collection of back-end systems.
Business process management is best used for front-end processes. These are the processes, tools and materials that users have to handle and perform. The back-end can be handled by more complex processes that other experts can perform.
- Use BPM technology when the appropriate services are available to support the flow of information back and forth from systems of record.
If BPM models start to become so complex that they look like code, something important is missing. This missing component could be a process that’s easier to understand, a simplified workflow model or better user interfaces or software.
- So your case does satisfy one of the conditions for business process management, what now?
2) Here are important things to remember just at the start of your transformative change:
- Process metrics should always be present in your design. These process metrics are your indicators that your BPM technology and systems are working and how effectively they’re helping you reach your goals. A good example of a business metric would be the number of after-sale calls complaining about a product. What these measures is the effectiveness of the sales process—if there are fewer calls, sales is doing its job to meet customer satisfaction. These metrics should also be effortless to collect as a by-product of day-today processes and not something you have to correlate actively.
- You can never communicate enough. Don’t take assents and nods at face value. While the start and end of a business process management usually has intense communication, the middle parts often suffer. One good technique to win over executives and people to support the change is to use influence maps and social settings to demonstrate the benefits and show metrics on the improvements. Respect and keep open lines of communication with stakeholders and their needs.
- Automation is not always the answer. Most of the time, executives focus on automating processes thanks to software and available technology, citing that it’s the way BPM is done. While true, it’s not always correct. Automating sub-processes can create more knots to untangle in the long run—your process architecture has to be designed to meet a goal—not produce at maximum all the time.
- BPM mentors, experts and champions can make everything easier. While a lot of organizations balk at hiring people solely for BPM, they could be committing their most grievous mistake. More experts and a central command or center for business process management can make everything easier since there are people there solely to support and teach this discipline.
In the end, BPM is effective but needs to be implemented at the right place, time and way. Without the right conditions and the help of experts, it may be doomed to fail from the start.
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