Business Process Management (BPM) is an approach to project design that is proving invaluable for organizations of many different sizes and specialties. In essence, BPM offers ways to design projects with clear, measurable goals at a minimal level of expense. Despite the benefits of BPM, many organizations find their BPM initiatives terminating prematurely, in many cases because of an inability to present a convincing business case to potential stakeholders. By following a few simple steps, you can increase the credibility of your business case and secure the funding you need.
The first step in building a business case for BPM funding is to determine which processes will be focused on. At this stage, you should be focusing on processes that can produce quick results, so as not to risk losing potential sponsors on an early failure. Business cases tend to not be areas that respond well to improvisation. Rather, it is important from the inception of the project to provide a clear path to achievable success.
Processes should also be as simple as possible at this stage, requiring few, if any, sponsors from areas other than your immediate business. While you have some flexibility in adding more intricate processes as the business case gains traction, at the start it is far more important to simply get the project going.
Once you have outlined the processes you will use, your next task is to determine the benchmark you will use to gauge your progress. Note that this does not have to be overly detailed at this point. Rather, a benchmark can be as simple as outlining who is responsible for each aspect of the process and when any tasks will be due. These questions have the advantage of being relatively easy to assess, as well.
After determining the overall responsibilities of each team member, the next step is to assess the degree to which responsibilities overlap or are connected. If one team member requires an action from another team member to proceed, this should be clearly outlined. The same principle applies to data. Does any team member’s responsibilities depend on data availability, particularly data that may need to be collected or synthesized by another team member? By identifying and documenting any interdependencies, each member obtains a clear sense of the logical order of steps to project completion.
Having a clear sense of your goals is important at any stage, but it is also important to have predetermined criteria of what needs to happen for the project to be considered a success. If you are looking for a numerical improvement, a percentage increase in sales for instance, this number needs to be identified and measurable at each stage of a project’s lifespan. This is crucial not only to know how a project is doing for your own management purposes, but also to serve as a clear indication of progress to any project stakeholders.
The most important point of this step is that the goal be measurable in a BPM business case. Without the ability to measure, it can be very difficult to truly know whether or not you are performing well. Try to obtain not only an overall metric for improvement, but also a subset of metrics at various stages in a project to keep team members on track and provide continual feedback of progress.
In this final step in building a business case, you synthesize information from the previous steps to create an overall map for how a process should function. While models and simulations can certainly help to predict the failure or success of any process, in truth you will likely not be able to fully understand your process until it actually begins. As a process unfolds, information is collected and room should be made to incorporate any necessary tweaks.
Ultimately, while you may have taken the time to clearly identify relevant processes, benchmarks and metrics, your process may still encounter some difficulties. If this happens, however, try not to become discouraged. There are no perfect processes, after all. Rather, take any botches as a learning experience to improve the current process and create more efficient processes in the future.
The goal of BPM is to provide clear incoming data on the performance of a process at any one point, so that managers can take this information and redesign processes to maximize efficiency. This element of redesigning is the key. While you may struggle at various points of a project’s implementation, by using and learning from BPM, you are ultimately moving towards greater simplicity and cost-effectiveness in any project your organization undertakes.