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What is success in Business Process Management?

May 21st, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in BPM implementation, Pragmatic BPM

This week I had a discussion about what BPM success is. The BPM project manager of a company was concerned about the future of BPM within the company, since they had been automating a number of processes but never really calculated the success of their projects. So they couldn’t demonstrate the value of BPM to the company and still had employees opposing every new process improvement. In the eyes of the BPM team, they hadn’t achieved anything close to the multimillion dollar savings that other companies were speaking about. While BPM does improve areas that have been left untouched by technology so far, it doesn’t come with surprise that great success is easy to achieve. This however doesn’t mean that improvements are always significant or measureable.

How do you measure the success of projects that change the way everyone thinks about the business? What if process improvement ideas start rising from every department – how much value do you associate? What if processes now provide transparency and accountability or even reallocate workload? Who measured process efficiency before defining what the process looked like?

A customer once automated a reporting process that gathers all data from different sources automatically and creates the reporting brief all by itself. The goal was to avoid the risk of including wrong information, since this might have caused significant impact on the investor’s reaction. Naturally the process worked flawlessly before implementing the solution. So where was the improvement? Not every company can name the exact risk and amount associated to the improvement.

Every company successfully implementing BPM substantially improves their business – if it can be measured or not. While pragmatic BPM might not achieve the single top hits for improvement, it exceeds any single BPM installation simply through the huge impact the quantity of automated processes have on the enterprise. My recommendation to the company was to hold an event and speak about the individual stories on how BPM improved the way they are doing business. This is a team effort and everyone will have something to tell.

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Pragmatic Business Process Management in Sales and Marketing

May 14th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Pragmatic BPM, Sales & Marketing

There are many client facing processes that have a substantial impact on how a company is perceived by potential clients. I believe every one of us can name companies where they had good and bad experiences when purchasing goods online.

But there are many more interactions with prospects in a business to business environment, where people need a substantial amount of information and interaction before even seeing anyone in person. Imagine you go to a website and request a brochure or other kind of information. You typically expect to download the PDF and approach the company if this is of interest for you. For a structured sales organization this however kicks off a number of processes that typically tie into a prospect development plan. Either a sales person follows up with you in a couple of days to see if you found all required information and what the purpose of your visit was or an e-mail is sent out to you instead. Then it would be great to enroll you in the newsletter distribution list and stay in touch with you on a regular basis. Once you have found the offer relevant, the company might want to set up an online presentation, a meeting or test access to their offer.

While this is easy to coordinate at low volume, it can create an administrative overhead with company size and demand. Fitting every customer into a standard process is impossible. Therefore this is a great area for Pragmatic BPM. Small individual processes that are triggered by events like website registration or sales people can be created to save time and increase customer satisfaction. In addition, human errors are eliminated and process metrics are readily available.

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Should power users automate business processes?

Today I had a discussion with a consultant on who can or should automate processes. Would you give power users access to the tools to automate processes themselves?

Let me start with the example the consultant brought up: A large company took a look at a BPM solution and found it very easy and intuitive to use. A senior manager then stated that this would be ideal for power users, since they would be able to implement their processes themselves, without having IT to get involved. Triggered by the experiences of large scale BPM implementations that require architectural discussions before implementing processes, the consultant pushed back on this idea.

I have heard this many times and I believe there are many projects in the IT space that failed due to a lack of experience and knowledge. But isn’t this a great place to start? Why don’t we make sure experience and knowledge becomes part of every implementation and empower people to develop processes themselves?   Children lose confidence in themselves when parents do or arrange everything for them. They miss out on experience and confidence that they can accomplish tasks themselves. Just like overprotective parents harm their child’s development, we limit business people’s capability to solve their problems and limit the competitiveness of the company.

Therefore the question is not whether power users should be able to implement processes themselves, but what we need to provide them with so every project they start becomes a success. This starts with training but continues with knowledge transfer, project support and recommendations for best practices implementation. BPM is the first technology that allows business to build their applications themselves. Empower them to be successful and force vendors to make BPM as easy as possible!

Other thoughts?

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