BPM – build your supporter network

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A few years back I was struggling to “sell” the concept of better business performance, by better process management. And I really wanted to implement a tool to support it, allowing the business  to have access to & improve how they did things in incremental steps, as their process maturity grew.


I had an “ah-ha” moment during a BPM tool demo  – something I was shown virtually stood up & started shouting, “look at me”. I saw the ability to capture process information such as the cost of an activity while you are capturing the flow. You could capture other process information, such as key controls & risks, roles & responsibilities but it was this cost of process that excited me.


I started to think outside the square when I was building up my supporters. With these types of information available, Finance would be very keen to see more, Risk, Compliance & Audit teams would like the ability to flag & tag process activities, there were lots of wins for lots of functions.


I organised a demonstration of the tool to key supporters where they could see its potential uses. That was one of my better ideas. The audience went from polite bored interest to avid interest rather quickly. By the end of the demonstration, the business was asking me “so when are we going to have this tool?”.


Eureka! The requirement seed had been sown. With some help from Finance I put together the business case and socialized it, so when the business case was presented for approval, supporters were at the ready to give it the thumbs up.


Implementing a tool, as you know, is only part of the job done, but that allowed my process champions throughout the business to start centralizing processes.   Having them centralized improved project delivery significantly…no longer would BAs need to re-capture the process, they could use one that was already captured.


Governance structures were in place that allowed for the processes to be managed appropriately, so processes became a valuable asset within the company.


And that was the start of a great journey…you could do the same. Excite your key supporters by demonstrating different concepts that meets a need. Good luck. ’Til next time -T

3 tips to make BPM stick

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One of the questions people ask me before I start a project, is how do you make BPM stick? How do you engage the staff and make sure that improved process is followed?


Well, there are lots of different ways. I could be glib & say with a big stick, but the flip side to the stick is always the carrot. Or as one of my team members used to tell me…”you catch more bees with honey” – she put on the best morning teas at meetings…but again, I digress.


Have you ever noticed that people hate being told what to do? But if they design a workaround or a change, they certainly stick to that like glue. I’ve found that the best way to get people to accept a new process is to get them involved in building it. They’re far more inclined to follow something they’ve had a hand in building and then slowly improve it over time, than they are if it’s enforced on them. So get teams involved.


Now, speaking of honey…we humans are a funny lot…a healthy dose of competition has a way of driving us and we do like our carrots (or honey). In process management speak, metrics become important to process stickability – what gets measured, gets improved.


Making process activity visible is the key, so teams can see how they are tracking, then they can self manage & prioritise work. Certainly, have the team leader monitor things to make sure cherry picking isn’t an issue and have escalations built in.


Teams with the ability to self manage perform really well. Encourage this with rewards – everyone likes rewards! They can be  either small incentives during the year or by performance bonuses at the end of the year. Select the reward mechanism that suits your environment – I’ve seen some choose to do both!


Another way to help things stick – put a feedback mechanism in place. You’ll want to know if there are issues with a process that can be easily fixed – those doing the process will know what doesn’t work & how to fix it. Team members also like to know that their feedback would be welcome. Its a great way of weaving process stewardship.


So in summary, to make it stick:

#1 Have the teams involved up front;

#2 Metrics & rewards;

#3 Build a feedback mechanism.


The easiest way to manage all the alerts & metrics, including dashboard visibility is by implementing your processes in a BPMS – even if at first, there’s more people driven processing than system automated or integration activity.


Why do that, you ask?


There are immediate benefits like consistency in process, visibility of process, metrics are available at a glance & you’ve got real process data to support any business decisions.


Remember, when all is said and done, people either make or break a process – ignore the people aspect of change at your peril. If all else fails, emulate Theodore Roosevelt: “speak softly & carry a big stick”. ‘Til next time – T

BPM Tip # 2 – Design

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When you think BPM, what do you really mean? More jargon? A philosophy? A system? What is BPM?


There’s a heap of vigorous discussions being had the world over, but what it really means, is Business Process Management – a way for a business to know & manage what they do, so that they get the results they expect to get all the time. Whether that means that bills come in, processed & paid correctly and on time, or whether its when the customer comes in, orders their coffee & walks out satisfied that they’ve got the kick-start for their day – they are both processes that someone needs to follow (hopefully) the same way every time & there is (hopefully) someone accountable if things go wrong.


You can never replace the people in process – maybe in the future robots might to some degree – but until then we can only get help for some of the parts of processes – systems & technology can help, or they can really disrupt operations & be a right pain. But readers beware…if your manager comes back from a conference & runs in claiming that “I have seen the future & behold it is good…” then starts regaling you with details of a system they saw & how it will transform the business, that would be a good place to pause. Others might say be afraid…be very afraid.


Please, do yourself a favour – before you start to think about any systems (BPMS), you need to optimise your processes first, or else you may end up automating & delivering a bad result faster than you used to!  To do that, you need skilled people to help transform the processes.These can be from within your business, or external experts brought in to help, either way you need these types. You want to know what issue you are trying to fix, how you might measure it, what success looks like, and a lot of other criteria – you can use these as your litmus test for your improved processes.


Think about using experienced experts (aka “process tragics“) – they exist – to help kick start the transformation piece and maybe they’ll suggest automating in small increments, but make sure the experts also impart skills to your own people. After all, you’ll want to keep improving many other processes & you need your own teams to make it become “what they do everyday”. Once you’re doing that, all the time, you’ll find that you truly are living the BPM dream.