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When we launched bpms.ru in 2005 and when participated in first BPM conferences in 2006, there were just a handful of BPM offerings in Russia.
Now BPM has become an acknowledged brand; about a dozen of vendors actively promote it in Russia and several dozens offer consulting. Many of them have qualification, references and competence to fulfill a BPM project smoothly. Model a process, develop data model and screen forms, add business rules, org structure, integration, BAM and that’s it: the process application is ready.
But the major issues of BPM projects are not in development and not IT-related whatsoever. Two issues are common for discussions at conferences, customers’ sites and online forums: 1) how to gain measurable benefits from BPM and 2) how to ensure that BPM would be part of organization’s culture and not a one-time project.
How to get benefits from BPM project?
The question is often raised as how to sell BPM within the organization. The project sponsor isn’t willing to share the enthusiasm until being explained how the project success will improve the company’s balance sheet bottom line.
Alternatively, if a credit of trust was obtained at the project start then at the end of it the question arises how to return this credit by real benefits, preferably measurable in hard $s?
The worst case is the project successfully completed (I don’t even consider unsuccessful cases) yet there is no good answer to the simple question “so what?” - what have changed except the forms at users’ screens? False start is fatal: there won’t be a second attempt because the top management will switch to some other promising idea.
It’s better not to be there so BPM project benefits should always be evaluated before it starts. The question is two-fold: what process we are going to work on and what do we want to get from it?
The major difficulty: even if you are a superb BPM specialist, this isn’t enough to justify a BPM project. Simply because no one system can set up goals for itself - it can only be done within a scope of the super-system. In case of BPM, it’s the matter of business targets, strategy, value chain, performance gap etc.
The right sequence is: Business Issue - Process Issue - Automation Issue:
1) First of all we should decide what doesn’t make us happy at the business level?
Where do we loose money? Where the earnings are missed which is equivalent to losses? Where do we lag behind customers’ expectation? Where do we miss opening opportunities because of low agility? Where do qualified personnel and management is doing routine job?
The possible targets at this level:
- Double sales in next year and a half
- Grow up the partners network by 50% annually
2) Which business processes should be worked out to reach the targets claimed at the first step? What should be improved in these processes?
It should be done in specific, not general terms, e.g.:
- Decrease the offer preparation time from 2 weeks to 3 days
- Reduce missed delivery schedule rate to 5%
- Ensure that project managers won’t ever line up at director’s office to beat out extra resources (a real case by the way)
There must be a link between process targets and business issue from phase one.
The target may be quantative or qualitative but there should be no uncertainty. Imagine that the project is completed and everything you intended to do is done. Now ask yourself the question: «How would I know that the process improved?» If there is no clear and unambiguous answer then the project isn’t worth to do because at the end you’ll face the same damned question «so what?!»
3) Only after first two issues are resolved the third may be addressed: which functionality the process application should implement?
- Manager’s dashboard with 360-degress control of cases in progress, bottlenecks, resources utilization
- Timers and escalations for timely notifications and actions taken when process activities delay
- Critical resource (bottleneck) scheduling ensuring its maximum utilization
- Case monitoring by participants: previous activities, planned activities
- Self-service web portal for customers and/or partners: order entry and tracking, expected delivery date
The trouble of many BPM project is that they paramount automation. The customer commands: develop the process application with such and such functionality. It leads to wrong priorities and inadequate process scheme.
Only the goal setting following the scheme Business Issue - Process Issue - Automation Issue results in a system providing a tangible effect. Compared with automation-driven, such system has less micromanagement and more end-to-end process control, online monitoring and escalations.
How to turn BPM project into a long-term program?
Unfortunately BPM projects following the waterfall development - with rigid requirements and without a sign of continuous improvement - aren’t uncommon. So do one-off BPM projects that didn’t result in a competence center within the organization neither made it process-oriented.
We talked above about the link between BPM and business goals and ultimately the company strategy. Now we’ve got even deeper rooted problems - as it was well-said, «culture eats strategy for lunch». Any organization seeking for success through BPM should develop the process culture. There won’t be anything lasting otherwise despite the best strategy, BPMS software and BPM consulting.
The process culture cornerstones:
- Process management is the systematic response to functional units’ misalignment inherent to hierarchical organizations.
- Process management assumes a) managing the company by following formal business processes and b) managing business process lifecycle - design, execution, monitoring and analysis, re-design.
- Business process improvement isn’t a transition to ideal «to-be» but a constant run on the horizon.
- It’s impossible to outperform competitors by leveraging standard business processes. Key business processes are company’s know-how.
Practical implications of these provisions:
- There is no such thing as BPM turnkey implementation.
- A company must develop its key business processes internally, not seeking in the public domain or packaged applications.
- BPM should be fueled not as a fixed budget process but as a monthly amount allocated to business process improvement activities.
Developing key business process internally doesn’t mean that external consultants should not be involved. Just don’t involve “magicians and wizards” meaning that company must have internal competence allowing it to set up the process tasks properly, accept the results and get the understanding of how they were obtained.
The obviously necessary component of such competence is BPMN.
Some are scared by this notation while others underestimate its complexity. Both cases lead to troubles. In a couple of pilot projects we faced the customer that couldn’t fully understand how the process is working and more importantly how can the process scheme evolve. This is exactly what leads to a one-off project instead of the long-term program.
Why BPM should be asked at Business Console
We can disassemble any business process by customer’s choice and implement it as a process application within BizAgi BPM Suite, featuring user portal, business rules, BAM and legacy applications integration. It has become a matter of technique, a routine. But it’s not just us able to do this.
Our advantage is that apart of this we help our customers in resolving two pressing problems outlined above.
1. We’ve got a methodology to choose wisely the business process that will give maximum business benefits when implemented in BPM.
If the customer already knows where the weak spot is then it’s ok to launch the BPM project.
But if as it happens too often a number of spots are weak then we perform express analysis of business processes. It starts with value chain analysis and then proceeds by identifying the weak links of this chain i.e. the processes with maximum improvement potential.
To be precise, both jobs are done by the customer’s workgroup under our guidance. And this is much more valuable than if we as external consultants brought the results on a silver plate. Conclusions developed by company’s managers and leading specialists are much more convincing and more importantly, create positive morale - the willingness to improve business by implementing them immediately. Because the project is carried out in a short timeframe of 4 weeks, this enthusiasm doesn’t cool down.
2. We teach BPMN efficiently.
We teach not just the notation. The key point of bpmntraining.ru training is a practical work on real processes picked up by the students from their own practice.
There is a big difference between handbook exercises and real-life business processes. In the real life one faces initially a huge pile of activities which is hard to approach. The first question isn’t how to model it but rather how many processes are there?
But when the student accomplishes the mission after the homework and full day at class, the enlightment comes. From now on he/she really owns BPMN, i.e. is able to apply it in practice.
And his/her company gains the key competence necessary to implement BPM efficiently as stated above.
It’s all available right now
If the above seems reasonable for you then please consider the following Business Console offerings:
1. Invite us to lead a seminar entitled «The Modern Business Process Management».
The draft schedule: hour and half of presentation that includes BPM demonstration and half an hour of discussion of challenges your organization faces and possible ways to cope with them. There is no obligation from you except the management involvement.
2. Freely download and install BizAgi software: Process Modeler for business processes modeling and BPM Suite (Xpress or Enterprise .NET Edition) for business process modeling, execution, monitoring and analysis.
Install both at your personal laptop (BPM Suite 2 GB memory and 2 GHz processor are desirable). No extra soft is needed. Now you can implement a business process of your own in BizAgi to evaluate it.
We strongly recommend not to waste time on learning the tool by passing our BPMN training first –
3. Order training at bpmntraining.ru. Send one or more specialists to public training or if there are four or more then order onsite corporate training.
Once again there is no obligation from you yet the understanding of what BPM is and what can be done with BPMN and BPMS within your organization will increase dramatically. You’ll be able to plan any BPM initiative with great visibility - even if you will eventually choose another BPMS and another consultant.
4. Sign up for Business Console webinars showing advanced BizAgi features like integration with «1C» (the most popular local ERP) or process monitoring and analysis techniques.
At the end of the day we’d be happy to see you among BPM followers and Business Console clients, perform the express business process analysis and a BPM project for you, help to build the BPM center of competence and reach new heights in business.