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The need for Boutique BPM Consulting

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As the BPMS Software Vendors are maturing their software products, and BPM is now apparently going to be the must have item on every CIO’s shopping list, there will be a growing need for BPM consulting skills. I thought I would reflect on the reasons why independent specialist BPM consulting is required to support this market.

BPMS implementations are different to other software products typically offered by the software vendors. In particular they are sold to the business and not IT. They offer the silver bullet of lower cost of change and increased operational efficiency. A successful implementation needs to not only deliver a functional outcome, but also a capability for ongoing improvements. This typically requires a smaller, but longer engagement with focus on cultural alignment, process improvement methodologies, and delivering incremental changes.

What makes a successful BPM project?

I am a passionate believer in BPM being an approach and not a technology implementation. In my opinion the most important aspects of a successful BPM project / program are:

  • Business engagement and leadership
  • Understanding of the cultural change and alignment required.
  • Strong methodologies that support incremental delivery, continual improvement, are receptive to frequent feedback, and embrace change.
  • A clear view of what success looks like.

This drives the need for specialist BPM organisations who are passionate about BPM, and can blend the cultural, business, and IT skills to deliver on the promise that the customer bought into.

So what differentiates the Boutique BPM Consultancy?

Understanding how to incrementally improve processes to deliver real business value whilst retaining the low cost of change and ensuring stability to the ongoing business operations is a delicate balance. Realising the benefits of implementing a continuous improvement model may require the establishment of a BPM COE and will leverage BPM / Lean / Six Sigma approaches to identify and prioritisie opportunities, and to measure and bank the benefits. This requires a blending of process improvement and IT skills that is unique. The level of business engagement and ownership required is also unique.

The characteristics of a BPM consulting organisation are:

  • Passionate belief in BPM – not just thinking about BPMS as a different tool for IT solution delivery. The key to success is belief, buy-in, leadership and ownership by the business, which won’t happen without some cultural changes. Skills in the product are not as important as understanding how to deliver BPM – it is the right combination of process improvement and solution delivery methodologies supported by the right tools.
  • The right methodology. And yes, this is again about BPM vs BPMS. Incremental delivery and Continual Improvement should be core principles. It is  important to build and sustain the momentum and belief by delivering real and measurable business benefits (regardless how small) on a regular basis. It requires understanding and focus on desired business objectives and KIP’s.  But it is also about understanding best practices in solution delivery. A BPMS implementation is delivering an IT solution, and over time the shared components, service integration, and sub-processes can easily lead to a tangled web of dependencies that are difficult to change – the next legacy system.
  • They want to have a smaller but ongoing relationship. This is more aligned to a model of continual improvement, and is unlike most software vendors professional service engagements.

It is the discovery sessions, having the rights SME’s, frequent increments, and frequent playbacks that are key success factors. This requires co-location, establishing a close trust relationship, and a team that works together and embraces change.

BPM organisations invest in this. They invest in the methodologies, tools and techniques that can be the difference between success and failure. The blend of agile / lean software development practices, process improvement methodologies, and deep understanding of BPM and BPMS can’t be matched by a large software organisation with offshore (or flown in) skills. It equally is unlikely to be matched by general consulting organisations, who don’t have the blend of focus, investment, and skills.