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BPM Done Right: 15 Ways To Succeed Where Others Have Failed

This article is part of the Best Practices White Paper Business Process Management [January 2009]
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10. Manage expectations. There are many stakeholders involved in a BPM project and each of them will have a different perspective on what constitutes success. The key is documenting up front who these stakeholders are and what constitutes success or failure in their eyes. Some will have hard metrics for success based on solid ROI while others may have "softer" goals around improved customer retention or reduced regulatory risk. Regardless, a thorough understanding of why people are involved is critical to success and critical to winning supporters.

11. Select a process methodology. BPM is primarily a management discipline and like all good disciplines it requires a guiding methodology or set of methodologies. It’s safe to say that a BPM project with a good methodology and no technology has a better chance of success than a project with leading technology and no methodology.

Given that BPM is a new implementation style that puts the business in the driver’s seat and promotes multiple fast iterations rather than a few, long projects, there’s a chance that the methodologies you need will be new to your organization—or at the very least will need significant modification. But many companies already have the right foundation or starting point for a BPM methodology, whether it is Six Sigma, Lean, Balanced Scorecard, Agile development, etc.

Most importantly, the methodology you develop must cover the whole process-improvement lifecycle, from selection of tools and training, to implementation and sustaining advantage through continuous improvement.

12. Implement a balanced approach to technology. BPM has been more successful than previous "process-oriented" approaches because it blends technology with management best practices. Without a good technology foundation, ROI would be lower, the business would be less engaged and results would take longer to generate. But too much technology can make things just as hard. End users risk being overwhelmed, and the organization will lose focus on the people and process side of the equation.

Focus on your own needs and drivers, but bear in mind the core goals of BPM are process effectiveness, process transparency and process agility. Invest in those technologies that will make the lives of your users easier, make change easier to initiate and digest, and deliver the right information at the right time to the right people.

Finally, don’t ignore the role of governance. As you liberate your platform and open up the tools of change to a wider audience, governance becomes critical. Governance, like BPM itself, is much more than a technology problem, but the BPM platform you use should be capable of supporting a sound approach to governance by building in rules, policies and communication mechanisms that control how people make decisions and initiate change.

13. Take a broad view of training. Training is critical to success with BPM and will take many forms. You’ll need to look at methodology training both for business and IT stakeholders, tools training for development teams and worker training to ensure they can take advantage of the new processes and applications. Ensure you aren’t just focused on how to implement and utilize a one-time solution. BPM is about regaining control of your business and the means to make iterative and frequent improvements. Find resources that can ensure sustained success beyond the initial application. Under-investment in training can destroy the returns from the other BPM investments your organization makes.

Take the time to find companies that have done BPM before (if your vendors and service providers are successful, they can make introductions). The companies should have a similar profile to your own and should have tackled the organizational, cultural and methodological as well as technological issues associated with BPM.

14. Don’t feel the need to do it all yourself. Sometimes thinking differently requires new minds, and BPM certainly requires new roles and skills. But getting new people and skills into the team does not have to mean hiring them immediately or embarking on a significant training exercise on day one. Many companies fail at BPM because they don’t ask for help and try to do too much themselves in the early stages. Use professional services staff from your vendors or independent consultants to supplement your team and help bring new skills in-house.

15. Profit from experience. The best practices discussed here are highlights from the lessons that we have learned in partnership with our customers over the many years we have been delivering BPM solutions. Our professional services and strategic business solutions (SBS) teams continuously build these lessons learned into our customer engagement methodologies to ensure your success.

Software AG is an independent provider of business infrastructure software. Our 4,000 global customers achieve measurable business results by modernizing and automating their IT systems and rapidly building new systems and processes to meet growing business demands.

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