By Cesar Fernandez, PMG
Business management guru Tom Peters once said, "Almost all quality improvement comes via simplification of design, manufacturing, layout, processes and procedures." Although this may be true, so many companies have a tendency to over engineer systems, or worse, implement courses of action without a clear and easy plan to follow. This is where the discipline of business process management (BPM) can come in handy for CIOs.
BPM targets efficiency improvements within an organization by modeling and standardizing core business processes, like hiring and onboarding a new employee, product development or customer acquisition. While not solely concerned with enhancing the way individual tasks are performed, BPM focuses more on managing the entire process, or the chain of events, tasks and decisions that ultimately produce added value for the organization and its stakeholders.
For BPM to work organizations must gather support from business leaders, establish a team that’s focused on the initiative and continuously monitor and measure what’s been put in place. Here are tips on adopting all three best practices:
BPM and Business Leaders
Typically in larger corporations slightly modifying processes -- let alone deploying BPM -- can be a scary concept. This means that whoever introduces the idea of BPM will have to lobby for it and look to executive leaders for support.
So how do you win a leadership team over with BPM? Tell the truth, or as my boss likes to say, "Throw that dead rat out on the table."
In other words, describe the current business situation as it is. Then, identify improvement opportunities and show how change is achievable with business process management. Comparisons between existing processes and planned changes, including details on costs and value propositions, can be an incredibly powerful way to warm leaders to the idea that BPM initiatives are necessary.
Build BPM Team
While business leader support is important, an even more critical task is securing a team who can execute BPM objectives. These team members should know the businesses’ processes end to end, while not being critical to day-to-day operations. If BPM is not a team member’s primary initiative, CIOs run the risk of distractions and delays to the project.
Business analysts are also vital. They should be fluent in IT and have the ability to bridge the gap between IT and the business. They should be experienced practitioners in some form of process discipline such as business process reengineering, Six Sigma, Lean or total quality management (TQM).
Rounding out the team should be the hired guns, the consultants. When vetted thoroughly, consultants can be a valuable asset as many have been a part of BPM initiatives for a variety of organizations.
Once a team has been assembled, it can begin identifying opportunities, developing and prototyping using technology like workflow design. This allows for visualization of the process in a different light and provides a mechanism for running simulations for various scenarios, which is crucial to process optimization.
Measure BPM Success
The work is not over once a new process or refinement has been implemented. After its launch, monitoring and measurement come into play. In fact, regularly and proactively reviewing findings become a process all its own. Not only does monitoring and measuring help to identify key issues before they become serious problems, it also helps ensure that the processes put in place are continuously adapting to changing business needs.
While BPM initiatives can be an undertaking, getting a handle on the many processes and tasks within an organization should not be intimidating so long as well-defined principles and methods are observed. With executive buy in, commitment from all business process management team members and continuous monitoring, long-term success is inevitable.
Cesar Fernandez is the director of product solutions at PMG. A significant number of the Global 2000 rely on the PMG Enterprise Service Catalog to deploy enterprise service catalog and business process automation software that streamlines operations, reduces costs and improves efficiency. PMG solutions transcend traditional IT service management boundaries, giving business and IT professionals a smarter way to automate business processes.