Practical BPM

In a recovering economy, many businesses are looking for ways to automate and optimize their resources. Moreover, with ageing personnel and a lack of skilled workers, it has become even more important to turn to process automation to do more with less. In many cases, however, processes live only in the minds of those who complete the work, therefore that information remains undocumented and often misunderstood. This situation significantly increases the cost of training, exception management, optimization, and improvement. Therefore, a practical approach typically involves documenting and measuring the current state of the business.

A Business Baseline to Deliver BPM

Some might argue that it’s unnecessary to measure the as-is process state because it will change and be optimized by adopting business process automation and management (BPM). However, without a baseline comparison or starting point, how can the business value delivered by BPM be quantified or defended? How can a process be appropriately managed (hence the “M” in BPM) without measurement? (Think of the “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” mantra.)

Oftentimes, businesses are eager to reap the benefits touted by BPM and tend to jump in without testing or measuring. Unfortunately, this approach generally has limited benefits when people are involved in the process. Natural resistance to a new way of working and a new system will inevitably occur. This resistance often rears its head very late in the process delivery cycle, usually during user acceptance testing (UAT). This is when end-users blame the user interface for being unworkable, either because it is lacking in essential features that had to be sacrificed for on-time delivery, or because it is a convenient way to reject change.

Address All Parts of the User

Change also disrupts a person’s four Cs: control, competency, comfort, and certainty. Without a clear change management strategy in place, BPM often fails because it doesn’t address the human or psychological element. (This is unlike systems automation, for example, which doesn’t typically require re-training end-users.) If you aren’t convinced that change resistance will occur, read Moss Kanter’s Harvard Business Review blog article, Ten Reasons People Resist Change.

One way to mitigate the rejection risk is to socialize the improvements that BPM will deliver to end-users by establishing a clear, documented baseline of the as-is process, as well as a target for process improvement. Doing this requires early mapping of how the process should work, what will be automated, what will remain manual, and how exceptions will be handled. These critical steps for practical and successful BPM should be integrated into the delivery lifecycle at the early stages and not back loaded later.

Interestingly, most businesses spend inordinate amounts of time documenting and measuring their existing processes when implementing new ERP systems, but fail to do so before implementing BPM. However, implementing BPM generally means implementing custom processes that aren’t managed by a single siloed system (such as an ERP), so it becomes all the more important to establish a baseline comparison.

With that, how can you make your BPM more practical?

1)    By leveraging process analysis tools to document the as-is state.

2)    By implementing an effective communication mechanism between the lines of business that will operate and run the processes, and between the delivery teams that will build and improve them.

This essential part of practical BPM requires an effective approach and toolset. TIBCO’s Event-Enabled Enterprise platform provides this approach and methodology for delivery, and works in conjunction with TIBCO Nimbus for process documentation, discovery, and analysis.

So, are you ready to get practical with BPM and deliver measurable results?