Business Process Management (BPM) is as much a business discipline as it is the set of enabling technologies. The objective is to increase profitability by modeling, automating, managing, monitoring and optimizing business processes with the use of technology.
Implementing BPM solutions is a complex proposition. It takes understanding the organization’s environment and those processes that could benefit most by the kind of streamlining that BPM creates. It also takes the creation of organizational buy-in. In a business environment, change is often resisted. Creating teams of those directly affected by the change and those charged with seeing the project through can help make the process go more smoothly.
Experts recommend a variety of suggestions and practices to guide the process and ensure optimal outcomes when BPM solutions are being implemented. These include:
- Ensure your application fits your needs - BPM applications come in all sizes and shapes. They’re designed to meet the particular needs of different functions in the organization. For executives, for example, some of these applications focus on issues like control and efficiency. Others are geared for software developers who develop applications around BPM constructs. Your BPM implementation should factor in those differences and be versatile enough to meet the needs of everyone.
- The cost equation - Management wants to know how much BPM is going to cost, perhaps more than it wants to know what it will save. Providing an estimate can be challenging, especially for initial projects where benchmarks for the software, much less consulting services, have yet to be established. Cost will be a variable that’s regularly refined as the due diligence is carried out, so emphasize to management that you’re giving them an estimate. Another caveat: The greatest cost of BPM may stem from supporting business resources or consultants, not software licensing and maintenance fees. These costs can be offset to a degree by leveraging existing skillsets to see the implementation through.
- Set milestones to mark progress toward goals - The BPM implementation can seem like an overwhelmingly huge work in progress when seen in a singular goal point of view. By establishing markers for progress, breaking the implementation down according to smaller, more manageable phases, the team can avoid breaking down. Each milestone should be accompanied by a reasonable deadline for meeting it, and every deadline met should demonstrate a contribution toward meeting the main goal of the overall project. Taking this approach is a good way to offset risks. A failure in a particular phase is more of a setback than a threat to the project as a whole.
- Don’t forget deliverables – on time - For BPM purposes, a deliverable is a return-on-investment of the actual BPM implementation, not its infrastructure. It must be tangible, something that can be seen or used, and fully realized. And they must be delivered as soon as possible after the BPM implementation has been completed.
- What isn’t measured isn’t managed - BPM implementation is challenging to measure effectively because of its abstract nature. Deliverables are helpful in this regard as they help gauge where BPM has improved a process or added value. It’s helpful to use Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as a way to monitor benchmarks.
BPM can be an important strategic initiative to help businesses realize the full potential of their business processes. At smaller concerns, implementation can be fairly simply done, using tools like Visio and Excel combined with collaborative brainstorming to identify inefficiencies and bottlenecks. The end result of an implementation managed smartly can mean a business that is more efficient and more profitable over time.