Wednesday Dec 18, 2013

Process of Process Management

In some of the past discussions, we have talked about the Six Business Process Management best practices to start BPM journey.

They are as follows:

1. Find the right process (Business Impact vs. Frequency of change vs. complexity)

2. Identify KPIs and define success

3. Involve business users

4. Put governance in place

5. Get executive sponsorship

6. Achieve quick early wins

These are good pointers for a healthy start, but what next? How can we make sure that the BPM practice in an organization is not just limited to automating one odd process? To reap its full potential, it should become a way of life, enterprise wide program. Companies that have developed a successful BPM program have gained immense benefits, not only from improved operational efficiency, better customer satisfaction but also reduced IT costs and time to solution. Adept organizations are known to deploy new process applications in a couple of weeks and make changes to deployed processes in real-time.

Once you have achieved the success with your first BPM project, start thinking about other opportunities that can benefit from BPM as well as about “Process of Process Management”. Think about other process improvement initiatives in your organization, how BPM can align with those. Are you running on lean, six-sigma methodologies? Do you practice TQM, have ISO certifications? Consider how BPM can help you achieve better quality results while you leverage the existing business improvement methodology.

We talk about “process governance from the start”, as one of the best practices, because it determines if your BPM initiative will take the shape of enterprise wide business improvement program or will be soon forgotten as a fad.

BPM is not just system integration or one time automation of manual process. It is about continuous improvement. Unless there is a right design and methodology in place, we are essentially creating a new monolithic application that is as rigid as existing systems. We want process design that is easy to maintain and flexible to change. If we do not get that from BPM implementation, its further adoption suffers.

Here are some of the factors that will impact the BPM adoption rate:

  • Methodology for modeling, analysis and approvals – What are the roles involved in process modeling and analysis. What is the process of review and approval?  Determine the processes that need to be modeled; use strategy maps and value chains to prioritize the modeling of business processes.
  • Modeling standards and patterns – Are there any repeatable process modeling patterns in the business e.g. voting, 2-eye principal, approval chains. Identify and standardize those across all process applications. Determine the process model hierarchy ( level 1, level2, level3 etc.) where each deeper level has incrementally finer details of the process than one above  and higher levels abstract the details for easier understanding.
  • Process storage and versioning – Establish a process repository where contributors can store their processes. Establish a standard way of versioning the process models and other process artifacts?
  • Process reusability – Perhaps most important factor in the success of BPM program is process reusability. Determine the reusable components in the process. Meaning, identify all the components that can be used in other similar processes. These could be sub-processes, forms, form fragments, business objects, rules, integration adapters. We do not need to redesign these for each process. We should be able to reuse these. We may also want to externalize some of these components like rules or integration adapters so that they can be changed independently of the process. This is something critical for process agility.
  • Process health checks – Determine the frequency to check the health of a process. Know the KPIs that should be monitored. Make sure that processes are running within their limits, and any variances raise an alarm. This should be a part of process design.
  • Frequency of change – Identify the processes that need to be updated quarterly, half-yearly or annually. Plan for newer versions, plan for instance patching and have instance migration strategy in place. Keep frequently changing components external to the process so that those can be changed without process redeployment e.g. business rules.

The idea is to expedite the BPM adoption across organization and to move the organization higher up in BPM Maturity. If you have not already, take quick self-assessment quiz and see how you compare to your peers in BPM maturity. You will get a valuable customized report in the end that you can review with your colleagues and discuss next steps.

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