Sweet AND Sour is better than Sweet OR Sour!
- Is Business Process Management a business discipline or is it a software product?
- Should a Business Process improvement project be driven by IT or by the Business?
Like the Sweet OR/AND Sour chicken example, what is the correct response? – Is it Or? Is it AND?
In EmeriCon’s terms, Business Process Management is an approach to improving Customer responsiveness, creating competitive advantage, and exploiting business capabilities.
It is a management discipline that addresses the following types of business challenges:
- Helping you to better understand your business processes across the value chain. It formalizes the tribal knowledge of the experts who are performing the processes today. It captures this intellectual capital before it retires and walks out the door.
- Identifying bottlenecks that are preventing efficiencies and cost savings.
- Providing real-time visibility into performance.
- Tracking performance so that it can be measured against those Key Performance Indicators that define business success
- Supporting process change at the speed of business
Software is also a critical enabler of any process improvement project. However, thinking that software by itself can deliver better business outcomes is the same as thinking that buying new golf clubs will lower your handicap. Software is a part of the story – it is not a silver bullet!
Business Process Management is a management discipline AND it is enabled by software.
How are you managing your processes today? Are your people using e-mail and spreadsheets to start and track processes? Are your managers spending their time determining who is working on the next step in the process and when the process should be completed? Or are they making decisions that deliver value for your customers? Are you getting the full value of your human capital investments? Do the right people or systems have the right tasks in a business context at the right time to make the most appropriate decisions?
Customer stories proving AND is better than OR
Recently, we talked to members of an IT team leading a BPM software RFP evaluation. This company was looking at BPM technologies for the third time (their previous BPM projects were unsuccessful IT projects). The RFP concentrated on the technical features of the software (Operating systems, security standards, languages, disk space allocations, specific features, etc.). They also wanted to know how the software would support governance, reliability, availability and scalability. One of our first questions was “what are the company’s business reasons for considering this investment”. We were told that the executive champion for BPM was no longer with the company, and that IT was having difficulty finding a new Line of Business executive sponsor. Will the third time be a charm? Is this doing the same thing the same way and expecting a different result? This introduces the second question – who should drive a BPM/process improvement project: Business OR IT?
Another BPM client described their environment pre-2008 as follows: Projects were delivered late and were over-budget. The lack of executive sponsorships resulted in one-off departmental projects that complicated the end-to-end delivery of value to the clients. Shadow IT was rampant and departments were running on their own Excel spreadsheets. Their picture of their State of IT: In 2008, the CIO and the Executive Vice President of Operations realized that, in response to their increasing process automation demands they needed to put in place a structured approach to process automation (the discipline) supported by a BPM software solution. In the next year they evolved to a discipline of “Business run technology projects”.
- Estimated annual savings eliminating paper and the potential for lost documents ($3 million)
- Overall productivity increase of over 40%
- Decreased cycle time (in some areas as much as 50 – 75%)
- A reduction in customer complaints
- Visibility into the process performance allows management to ensure SLAs are met
Multiple process improvement studies confirm that senior management buy-in is highly correlated with deployment success. How can you increase your potential for a successful process improvement project? Recognize that BPM is a discipline and is enabled with software. Engage the Line of Business and IT to implement business run technology projects focused on business results. And, engage an experienced partner like EmeriCon to build the roadmap to business success.