Business Process Management (BPM) isn’t always easy. For as long as there has been BPM, there’s been a revolving door of challenges, objections, issues, and problems, from skepticism over new technology to an entrenched reluctance to think and behave differently.
Moving beyond Tech deployments – companies often see BPM as simply a tool or, a consultant brought in to recommend new technology (or, sell the technology itself). When in practice, to make a meaningful contribution to the business, BPM needs to think holistically about the changes it recommends and put in place. BPM is about the end-to-end business process, not just the technology.
Poor buy-in from executive leaders – Often business leaders need to be convinced, having been burned in the past (regardless of whether it was the fault of BPM or, a failure of the organisation to change). BPM has a bit of a history of promising the moon and not delivering. And while there’s some truth to that, the current climate is different: there’s more pressure to do more with less; there’s more opportunity for automation to drive process efficiency. Combined, this means there’s more need for BPM and a higher chance of BPM success since the tools are there to realise the vision.
Poor buy-in from end-users – BPM consultants and workers both need to work together to ensure they secure buy-in from end-users before a change is deployed. Only by securing buy-in can BPM consultants and champions hope to see their projects succeed. And this buy-in starts at the beginning. BPM managers need to: meet and collaborate with end-users during requirements gathering and process mapping. Explain where the bottlenecks are and what opportunity exists for improvement. Assuage concerns that change will design out positions – rather, focus on the fact that employees aren’t being replaced, but are going to have the chance to do their job more efficiently. Explain the technology – how it works, why it was chosen. If possible, try and get end-users to trial it and provide feedback. Set expectations around deliverables and output. Make sure end-users and executives both understand productivity will dip immediately following implementation of the new process, as people get used to it – and that’s okay.
Being agile (enough) – Business challenges change rapidly. While BPM might be brought in to solve one problem, it’s important that projects can pivot to try and solve another. For instance, a business might try and use BPM to reduce costs, only to discover that halfway through it needs to focus on closing more business and increasing revenue. BPM project owners must be ready and shift their goals to constantly align with changing business objectives. Otherwise, they risk losing executive buy-in and eventually, their budget or, contract.
Setting a core KPI – A BPM project must have a clear success/failure metric. If this sort of clear-cut success/failure parameter is set out, it becomes much easier to justify further optimisation processes. By setting a clear KPI (usually a core business objective), BPM processes can clearly articulate their value in a way that businesses understand.
Business process management is experiencing a resurgence. There’s more enthusiasm for BPM, getting buy-in is easier, and there’s just more need as new technology is available for businesses to optimise previously un-optimisable processes. But that doesn’t mean it’s without its challenges.
BPM still face challenges around buy-in from executives and end-users, conveying the holistic view of BPM, and being dynamic enough to respond to a changing business landscape. These challenges aren’t going anywhere. But with a well-run and well-executed BPM strategy, overcoming them is just a matter of time.