In the first part of our discussion on BPM, we defined the different elements of business process management and how automation can benefit a business. Now we will discuss the process of actually acquiring a BPM system. You will learn about some of the questions senior management must answer to determine whether the business needs a BPM system in the first place, why many businesses get it wrong, and how to ultimately choose the right product and vendor to implement the BPM solution. Businesses that have a better understanding of these points should have the best opportunity to implement a successful BPM system.
What Are the Questions to Ask before Getting into BPM?
The truth is that not every business actually needs a BPM system, and there are many factors that will come into play with designing, implementing and maintaining a BPM system. Any business that is considering getting into BPM must do a little soul-searching and self-assessment to determine the right type of BPM system needed to maximize cost-savings, improve customer service, and comply with industry standards. When assessing your current situation and business goals, these are just some of the questions you’ll need to consider:
- What are the consequences of continuing along with the way we do things now?
- Do we have a realistic idea of the costs of implementing BPM?
- Is there the potential for an increase in revenue or decrease in costs by automating some business processes?
- How much senior management commitment is there to “fixing” the existing process? How much mid-level management commitment is there?
- What is the track record of implementing process automation at my company? What kind of performance improvements have we seen?
- What is our track record of getting user adoption of new technology?
- How experienced are our managers with business process improvement?
- Is there staff that can do the business analysis and process implementation or do we need to bring in an outside resource?
- What consulting resources do we have who are experts with business process improvement and know our company?
When Does BPM Go Wrong?
Unfortunately, every BPM implementation isn’t a success story. There are myriad of reasons why a BPM project will ultimately fail. First and foremost, you need to know your people. Even if your BPM implementation is a technical success, adoption of the new system could still fall flat.
How do you account for poor adoption?
- Departmental managers may not be committed to the success of the new system.
- Users may never have bought into the need for change.
- Managers and users may look at the new system as an inferior replacement for their existing process.
- The software may be hard to learn.
In other cases, it could be an incomplete idea of what a business process is and how it works in your company. This is why it is so important to do a thorough job of planning and deciding whether or not you need a BPM system in the first place, as well as ensuring you have experts available to analyze the existing process and implement the automation of that process in your system. It is also crucial to bring the front-line operations people in this planning stage, so they can detail the system requirements necessary to fulfill the business’s goals. Having the end users, or at least a representation of them, involved in the implementation project from the beginning will result in much higher user adoption and greater success.
Oftentimes, a business will go bold with BPM and start off with a project that is too big, complex, and costly. We would caution against this. It’s much easier to start with a small project and build your wins before you go for the big projects.
Finally, businesses sometimes sabotage their own BPM projects by underfunding it or overpromising results. Before you select a vendor, you should have realistic goals in mind. BPM success is not won overnight and true results will be seen over time. Set clear, real-life benchmarks in year one that can be achieved.
Finding the Right Product and Professional Services Vendors
Now that you know how to determine whether or not you need a BPM system and what not to do during implementation, it’s time to discuss choosing a product and vendor.
When choosing a product you must have a good understanding of some of the business processes you’re looking to automate. You’ll want to distill those process down to a set of features that will be required by your BPM platform in order to achieve your automation. Many BPM platforms have very competitive feature sets but you may find that no platform is able to achieve your entire wish list, so it’s also important to prioritize your list of required features as you may need to compromise.
A good professional services vendor may be able to assist you to fill in the feature set gaps that exist in your BPM platform, or a short list of BPM platforms. These vendors can also bring their expertise of the BPM realm and make a recommendation of platform to you based on discovery of your process and needs.
When choosing a vendor there are three things you should keep in mind:
Experience: You don’t want a lifeguard who is still learning to swim. You want a BPM software company that can give you evidence that their product works for workflow processes similar to yours and will integrate with the systems you use to run your business. You also want the professional services team who is going to configure and install your system to be similarly experienced.
Clarity of scope: You want vendors who work diligently to understand your requirements and produce quotes that reflect that understanding in detail.
Proof of concept: We’ll test drive a $35K car before we buy it, but we’ll acquire a $350K BPM system based on verbal assurances. General Networks highly recommends spending the time and the money to do a POC with your candidate BPM software and professional services team.
Although some CIOs will argue that BPM is too much of a hassle to implement, it is something that should be considered by your senior management team. A BPM system, if right for your company, could help you get rid of the paper, improve efficiency, reduce mistakes and ensure compliance. When planned correctly with the right product and vendor, these business goals can be achieved.
General Networks has a track record of helping our clients automate business processes, reduce their operating inefficiencies, grow their user base, and engage their constituents. Whether you’re managing projects or contracts, employee records or engineering drawings, amusement parks or hospital building projects, whether you’re a highly regulated utility or a company that needs to improve its bottom line, General Networks can help you identify how to enable your people to do their work better than ever before.
Contact us to discuss how we can help you determine if BPM is right for you.