How to Conduct a Successful BPM Project
Business Process Management projects can easily become entangled in complexity, scope creep and lack of corporate buy in. Those are just a few of the many challenges BPM projects see. Technical tips can always be useful (like this one), but here are some higher level business management tips aggregated from BPM implementation professionals, which can make the difference between successful projects, and those that never get off the ground.
Paying Attentinion to the User
One of the key mistakes in a BPM project is to ignore the users of the system until the solution is at an advanced stage. Interviewing users early on in a project about how they currently perform a process helps you discover redundancies, difficulties, and time wasters. If your BPM solution can address these issues, it will be a stronger, more useful solution. Also, the more users are involved in the design of the solution, the more they will feel part of the solution and be motivated to accept it. Finally, test a prototype of the process (or part of it) with users before the project is complete. This will save you time later on when the project is in the testing stage. In short, strive to design your BPM solution with the help of those who will be using it. Some BPM providers, such as SAP, have placed a user focus on their BPM products with this tip in mind.
Reporting and ROI
In designing a BPM solution, it’s important to plan for and implement reports. It’s fine to automate a process, but if you can’t prove ROI with hard data, then the solution may not receive the recognition or usage it deserves. Reports give clear proof of results. They also enable you to isolate process bottlenecks. A report on the average time it takes to complete each task, or on the number of processes that are waiting for completion by each participant, can expose such bottlenecks and help minimise them. In this way, reports help you prove solution success and improve on it. Some BPM solutions include powerful reporting capabilities on process performance. An example would be BPM Software by PNMsoft (see some examples here).
Living in a Process Bubble
Can processes live in a bubble? Can they function well without information from the outside world? The answer in most cases is no. In order to build a solution which improves your business, provides better service and speeds up problem solving, processes must be in tune with the environment in which they live. You can achieve this in several ways:
- Provide processes with information from external systems.
- Ensure that processes listen for and react to external events such as request overflow, passed deadlines, or out-of-bound statistics.
- Define decision points with business rules, where processes evaluate external data before selecting the next step.
- Enable increased human interaction with processes, and joint human/process decision making.
- Give end-users and developers the opportunity to provide feedback and suggest process improvements.
To sum up, a process that lives in a bubble will stay in the bubble. Burst that bubble and a whole new world awaits.
BPM projects are not ‘one offs’, rather, they are opportunities for continual improvement and optimisation. In part, this is thanks to the cyclical BPM model which includes five iterative stages: Model, Implement, Execute, Monitor, Optimize.
This means that once the current cycle of a project is complete, a new cycle begins, where you use the knowledge and data gathered from the first cycle to create a better solution the second time around. In particular, the Monitoring stage is an opportunity to gather KPI and performance data which lead the way towards Optimization. Also, it’s important to be attuned to factors such as new requirements, updated technology and end-user feedback. Thus, through awareness of process performance and its surroundings, you will achieve better results during each iteration of the BPM cycle.
Gartner has some excellent additional BPM tips and advice.