Business process management (BPM) is the discipline focused on optimizing the efficiency of a business. Though there are many short- and long-term benefits to BPM implementation, improper deployment can jeopardize the overall success of the mission. Miguel Valdés Faura, CEO and co-founder of BonitaSoft, offers the following steps and guidelines that will help ensure the success of your organization’s BPM implementation while minimizing the possibility of any potential setbacks.
Click through for 10 best practices for BPM deployments, as identified by Miguel Valdés Faura, CEO and co-founder of BonitaSoft.
As with any new implementation, you should establish a starting point. For instance, identify a benchmark for how people currently perform a given function at an optimal level of output and develop a model of that (whether graphically or in a document). Use your business’ emails, phone calls, or chats to discern important information about how your business actually operates and then, when you’ve established these benchmarks, develop a workflow model that you want to implement.
Your employees may not realize how the processes they are involved in are connected to other processes in the business, which are in turn connected to even more processes. Building on that point, it’s important to consider that modifying your processes without proper planning could adversely affect your business. When implementing BPM, consider starting with a smaller, more easily manageable project (such as expense reports, purchase orders, or administrative tasks) while keeping the larger focus in mind.
With most BPM deployments, there are usually three major stakeholders involved: business users or functional owners – the ones closest to the process (such as a purchasing director), IT people who are able to transform the process model into business process applications, and end users (those who will actually use the deployed application). Make sure that you encourage collaboration between your developers and your end users throughout the deployment process. Getting this sort of feedback from your end users to make sure that your BPM application is actually usable can make the difference between a deployment that is embraced and one that is abandoned.
BPM applications serve many purposes for many different audiences. Some tools are tailored to executives and are focused on tracking business processes with emphasis on control, visibility, and efficiency. Others are designed for software developers who do application development based on the constructs of their BPM solution. Many organizations prefer open source BPM solutions since the code is transparent and an extensive ecosystem of complementary solutions is available.
When implementing BPM in your organization, identify a “champion” to manage the implementation process. This person should have initiative and must always be searching for solutions to common problems. For your implementation to move forward smoothly, the champion must guarantee success to those in upper management. To that end, if the champion comes from upper management, they should not have any additional workloads or responsibilities – otherwise they could become distracted from the main task. The champion must work to meet all essential objectives, oversee and direct the implementation process by intervening when necessary, allocate personnel and resources to the project, and frequently report results to senior management.
A BPM implementation can be a daunting concept if it is incorrectly viewed as a large, singular goal. To maximize the success of a BPM implementation, view BPM as a small series of changes working toward the larger goal of full implementation. Have your champion prepare a strong business case in the implementation’s early phase – this will convince stakeholders that your proposal is sound. Additionally, this strategy will minimize risk. By simplifying a large implementation into a series of smaller steps, the failure of one phase creates only a small setback instead of threatening the success of the whole plan.
Once BPM is implemented in your organization, the first deliverable benefits should be available soon afterward. Deliverables in BPM are a return-on-investment of the BPM implementation – not the BPM infrastructure itself. To qualify as such, it must be something other people can observe or use and it must be fully realized (not future results or speculation).
It is essential to ensure adequate communication and the appropriate level of participation between all responsible parties during your BPM implementation process. As such, you should make sure you collaborate with all groups involved. Ideally, your champion should work closely with all people involved in the implementation process at any level. This will alleviate any “management disconnect” problems where middle and senior management fail to understand the day-to-day issues that workers face. Open channels of collaboration will give all involved parties a more refined view and understanding of each aspect and how everything fits together – this is especially true for the technically oriented members of your staff like developers and IT people who ultimately have to make everything work in accordance with guidelines set by management.
When implementing BPM, you should track the progress of your implementation procedures to ascertain whether your plan requires any adjustments. This can be difficult, though, since BPM is more abstract than other resources in your organization. Identify what types of data you wish to measure – this is where your deliverables become important, since without them there is no way to gauge the effectiveness of BPM for a particular process. Use KPIs (key performance indicators) to provide a means to measure the data and track the success of the implementation.
You are likely to get far better results when you use outside consultants than you would if you handled your organization’s BPM implementation completely internally. The main benefit of using consultants is the experience they bring to the table. This is especially valuable in the case of software implementation where a significant design flaw or miscalculation could cause major problems and damage the overall investment. Using a contractor may cost more up front, but the expertise pays off in the long run.