BPM Program Implementation – An Important Checklist for Success

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Since the emergence of Business Process Management (BPM), organisations adopting it have had a wide variety of experiences – some successful and others less so. Some would argue that because BPM is so amorphous that any project is considered to be analogous to ‘boiling the ocean’ and therefore the outcomes may vary from exceptionally successful to, in some cases, disastrous.

Typical challenges that often cause concerns during a BPM initiative include:

  • Focus on automation supersedes process excellence and continuous improvement
  • Complex transformation programs end up in failures, as the business scope is not prioritised and the program roadmap not defined in advance
  • Traditional Waterfall business requirements & process analysis phase takes  an average of 6 – 9 months  with no results to show in production for at least a year and as a result, business sponsors often get disillusioned with BPM
  • Lack of alignment between the investments across business strategy, process improvement and automation activities

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New Book – Microsoft Visio 2010 Business Process Diagramming and Validation

For those interested in Process Design and Implementation using Visio 2010, David Parker’s new book Microsoft Visio 2010 Business Process Diagramming and Validation explains Visio diagram validation, the APIs behind it, and shows how to to build tools to make it all much easier!

The target audience for this book is the .Net developer community, Office users and technical folks but may still be of interest to those who wish to understand the depth and breadth of  features available in the new version of Visio.

As to be expected, the book is tutorial in structure and many demonstrations for creating Validation Rules, writing ShapeSheet formulae etc. The example code for these are all included and therefore is great for those who ‘learn by doing’ making the practical and immediately deployable examples very useful.

  • Download a free copy of Chapter 2 – Understanding the Microsoft Visio Object Model
  • Watch Visio 2010 Video

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BPM Centre of Excellence – Strategic & Tactical Value Explained

Foreword: Having recently completed the design and implementation of an operational BPM Competency Centre for a Global Insurance company, I thought I would share a bit of my recent experience on the subject. The Competency Centre initiative formed part of the extremely ambitious IT and Business Transformation programme that is fundamental in redefining the organisation and laying the foundation for its expansion strategy across Europe.

Over the decades, the search for IT and/or Business ‘Excellence’ has led to a concept that is often misunderstood and can be very amorphous in definition and execution – Business/IT Transformation.

A term also commonly used in the same context is that of a Centre of Excellence or ‘CoE’ aka ‘Competency Centre.’  In this post, I will not attempt to redefine either, but rather explain a bit more about how the various constituent parts of a CoE can support Transformation projects and more specifically Business Process Management (BPM) initiatives.

The purpose of a CoE is to act as a nucleus for promoting and managing the collaboration of people, processes and technologies around key organisational objectives by ensuring the application of best practices, education and training, support services and technology awareness.

In most organisations, this is an extremely complex challenge, especially if the level of organisational maturity is low and their existing operational model is disjointed. That said, more mature and integrated organisations find the exigency and necessary focus for adopting a CoE a challenge.

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How to ‘SCRUM’ – Approaches to Itterative BPM Agility

I have worked with various organisations to implement BPM solutions at both Enterprise and Departmental levels. A common challenge that I often come across is that both Business and IT don’t always understand how to apply itterative development approaches to support a BPM implementation.

As practitioners, I find we tend to take these types of approaches for granted but customers often need some education, especially if they have not used anything but Waterfall. The most common issue I find with Waterfall is that it instills a mind set of “Big Bang” project/solution delivery i.e. ‘know it all the build it and finally test it all’.  

With greater pressure on both Buisness and IT to show value and returns quicker and more consistently, itterative approaches have demonstrated their value with much better ROI and a lower unsuccessful implementation risk ratio, especially if an organisation is new to BPM. 

Various itterative approaches exist and the more commonly known one in my experience is SCRUM, XP, Agile and RUP. To help educate novices what its all about I thought the following resources may be useful.

Ken Schwaber co-developed the Agile process, Scrum. He is a founder of the Agile Alliance and Scrum Alliance, and signatory to the Agile Manifesto. Ken has been a software developer for over thirty years. He is an active advocate and evangelist for Agile processes.

 Further Reading (oldies but goodies):

How Business Leaders can Help IT Deliver ‘Real Value’ to the Business

Foreword: I have written various posts in the past that discuss the typical problems that can be solved for the business by using a BPMS and process automation. I thought it was about time to consider the challenges IT have to manage when not using a process centric approach.

Organisations need to change their focus from being functionally driven to being process driven to be really successful in their adoption of BPM. This is not always as hard as it first sounds.

Most of the organisational and technical building blocks almost surely already exist within the organisation in some form or other. The challenge is to align them together in a consistent and continuous way i.e. using business processes, a BPMS  and ensuring that cultural and human behavioural changes are well managed.

Paraphrasing Gartner, the typical characteristics of functional driven organisations include the following:

  • Organisational roles and responsibilities are functionaly aligned
  • Managers have visibility that is limited to their functional areas
  • Business is very dependant on IT to schedule application changes
  • Functional tasks and process hand offs are implied causing fragmentation
  • Costs are managed by functional area
  • Risk management is done using gut feel and relies greatly on experience with limited numeric evidenece due to lack of integrated and trusted reporting information

The organisational characteristics for a process centric organisation typically include:

  • Roles and responsibilities are aligned to process acitivities
  • Management visibility is based on an end to end business process understanding
  • Business is less dependant on IT for small changes to business rules and process tasks
  • Functional tasks and process hand offs are explicit, therefore reducing the occuraence if inefficient and broken processes
  • Risk management is done using operational metrics and simulation ensusing a proactive approach rather than reactive

 

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Making the Complex Simple – How best to streamline and automate business processes

I work with various organisations and in my experience, they are typically in various states of maturity in terms of their understanding and adoption of BPM. The one thing I do tend to find  is that they all seem to share common problems.

In this post I have listed some of the ones that I come across and also explain an approach that can be adopted to help move them from a reactive business to one that is more proactive and dynamic in making better decisions.

Organisations are inherently composite and complex ecosystems in which business processes are pervasive. This complexity generally manifests itself in various ways and can include the following:

  • Management and employees have difficulty in making correct decisions due to not having accurate and timely information.
  • Information is of devoid of business context (not seen in as part of a business process) and therefore may lead inconsistent decisions.
  • Planning is often difficult due to ‘broken’ processes, poor working practices and inconsistent information.
  • IT systems that support the various business processes act as inhibiters rather than enablers as they are typically designed deployed and managed as information islands or stove pipes.
  • Enforcing business rules, policies and procedures is an arduous task due to poor process visibility, accurate real time information and no integrated or consistent auditing.

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