Business Process Management: An ongoing phenomenon?
Initially when we proposed to use SAP Netweaver BPM for driving the workflows for human centric data governance processes within the organization, it was not an easy tasks to get the approval as we faced questions ranging from the viability to the ROI of the solution. Once the first project using BPM was completed and the users got the feel of the streamlined business process and the management got its hands on the measurable data points, many prospects started to open up as different process teams got interested after looking at the potential of BPM. We started with implementation of data governance solution for Customer Master which was initially planned for four months but now as I look back after one year, we have already implemented the similar solution for Vendors and Material. Using Netweaver BPM not only provides continuous improvement in business process but also provides significant lower total cost of ownership (TCO) due to reduced development & maintenance costs.
Although we completed the first rollout within four months time but after that nine more months have already passed and we are still in the process of identifying the bottlenecks and carrying out improvements to the process which is still evolving. If I look at the current process being followed, I can see a lot of the changes that have been made to the process over a period of time. For example: Initially we had implemented a three level approval process for creation of a Customer in the SAP system having a sales approval which was being approved by the local Sales team along with a local finance approval taken care by local treasury team and finally the third approval for which we had a global director: This approval scenario created a havoc after within months after being live because the global director was having hundreds of requests pending for his action which he was unable to action due to nature of his job. With the help of key metrics, we identified the bottleneck at global director approval stage and proposed to do away with the global director approval step which eventually translated into lower lead time for creation of a customer in the system. This is one of the several improvements that we realized and were able to implement without any hassles due to the agility of the BPM solution which allows continuous change to the process.
I also think that there should be a strong collaboration mechanism between the BPM team and the Business so that the process improvements can be more meaningful and useful. The users should realize that the BPM solution are ongoing in nature and may reap real benefits only if they are continuously improved over time because it is highly unlikely that we can implement a crisp and clear business process at one shot.
Apart from being beneficial for the client, BPM programs tend to be more favorable for Vendors (ISVs) who have a good chance of getting more business once an initial BPM implementation is completed successfully. As it happened in our case, once we successfully completed the initial implementation of BPM solution, the client realized the benefits & potential of BPM and went ahead by bringing more business processes covered by BPM solution which in turn meant that we had more business coming from the client.