Empowering Business People to Work Smarter, Not Harder

Men drawing a black process diagram on whiteboard

We have a problem in the BPM world: not everyone loves process as much as we do. My colleague, Rachel Brennan, is a self-confessed process-oholic. I have to admit to being the same. But understanding that very few people in your business share this addiction can really make a difference when you’re trying to show the value of BPM.

All of this would be fine if the end goal was to go and build a system. However, in most cases, these discussions still happen whether the processes are manual, or they’re just going to be used for information or standardization purposes. Let me tell you something—most people in your business don’t care about these details. All they want is something that they can understand and follow easily. In these cases, a well presented diagram is much better than a technically correct diagram. Something that they can recognize as their own job will help them understand the importance of the process work being done.

These are also the people who can add more value, as they’re the people who actually know how to improve the processes. They work with these processes every day. They have the knowledge and experience to suggest changes or at least raise the question of why something is being done in a seemingly inefficient way.

Here’s an exercise to try: Take some time in your next working day and count how many times someone grumbles about their job. Then think about the following:

  • Is it something that could easily be solved if people were talking to each other properly?
  • Do they suggest a way they can improve how something works?
  • Is it a fundamentally broken thing and can it be resolved?

Ultimately, for businesses to be more process centric, we all need to start thinking about what platform we’re giving regular business people to get involved. It’s simply unreasonable to expect non-process people to have to think like process people. We, the process-oholics need to start thinking like business people if we want these people to adopt the processes and contribute to the improvement of them.

Giving business people the platform to be empowered and actually feel like they can make a difference in their day-to-day lives is essential to doing this. It is not just focussing on getting them involved in process workshops, but giving them access to the most up to date processes at any time so that they can give feedback and raise questions.

These are the people who are most likely to be able to “fix” those problems that are attributed to bad processes, which ultimately leads to a better return on investment from the process work being done.

By following these simple rules, you can make sure that your business people can be properly engaged in your process project:

  1. Always keep the end goal in mind of “why” you’re capturing the processes
  2. Use a language that the business can understand
  3. Try to think like a business user, rather than expecting them to think like a process-oholic
  4. Sharpen your presentation skills —a well-presented diagram is better than a technically correct diagram
  5. Give them the platform to give feedback and encourage them to find fault with the processes

Business people just want to make their daily work easier and better. Process is a great opportunity to do this provided it is done in the right way. To learn about getting the most out of your universal process notation, click here. Headed to the Gartner BPM summit in London? Don’t miss Rachel Brennan’s presentation, Confessions of a Process-Holic, Wednesday March 16 at 3:30PM in Westminster C.