Adam Dean wrote in his recent post “BPM Skills“:
The biggest “added value” you can add to the BPM offering is BPM Skills.
I have an objection.
From my experience, the biggest issue of BPM initiatives is poor targeting. People pick up a target for the BPM project - i.e. a specific business process - on a basis of intuition or politics but not a thorough analysis.
No system is able to set the goal for itself. Hence BPM skills are not enough for BPM to be successful.
It depends on how you define what constitute BPM skills indeed so I’ll be more specific: one needs to be professional in analysing company performance, structuring enterprise value chains, identifying critical business issues, connecting business issues to process issues to personal performance issues for a BPM project to be successful. I guess these competencies are beyond BPM for most people.
As I already said here on the blog, this is a kind no-man’s zone between business consulting and process consulting: business consultants know what should be done eventually but have vague understanding of how strategic goals can be achieved with the help of BPM methodology and technology. BPM folks either expect that a customer will pick the target process or assist him with vague recommendations like “pick up a low hanging fruit”.
But look: how many of candidate processes will affect the company’s bottomline figures? The Theory of Constraints (ToC) postulates that there are generally a small amount of (or just one) bottlenecks within a system. Therefore a BPM project results would be visible at the company level only if it was targeted at one of these few (or even a single one) bottleneck processes. Otherwise the BPM project would be successful only locally: it’d increase the productivity of a link but the value chain constrained by some other link will remain the same.
Since we came to this logical conclusion about a year ago, we developed a missing methodology for systematic identifying the right target for a BPM project based on the ideas of Gary Rummler and Eliyahu Goldratt. We use it in pre-BPM projects that give the answer to the question asked by every top manager considering a BPM initiative: “what exactly would I get from your BPM thing in terms of hard dollars”?
The methodoly doesn’t answer the question directly of course - after all, every company has its own performance gaps - but we are able to articulate in advance how and where the answer will be found. The prospective sponsors are just fine with this approach.
The most part of the job at these projects is done by the customer itself - the workgroup usually consists of 15 to 20 people from top management to key specialists. We just set the right questions and the answers are all theirs.
The great co-product of this job is the empowered team. When the complicated and important task of identifying the company’s bottlenecks is completed, they are eager to close the revealed performance gaps with the help of BPM. It’s the best condition for a BPM project one could imagine.