Companies start with Business Process Management (BPM) to solve urgent business problems. Problems might include that the throughput time is too long, the process contains errors, or the compliance criteria are not met.
Solve urgent business problems
BPM can solve these problems by providing control and transparency. If you have modeled that the process consists of fifteen steps, there will be fifteen steps. Also, at any time in a process, people know what will be the next step for an activity and at what place this will happen. You will be able to see potential bottlenecks. This allows you to optimize your process to make it more efficient.
Starting with BPM
As we see above, BPM can bring huge benefits like cost reductions and quality improvements to your products and services. In today’s slow economy, now would be the time to bring BPM into practice and making your processes more efficient. Obviously, BPM is not something you arrange in a few days all by yourself. This blog provides some basic clues on how to start a BPM project in your organization:
1. Simple processes
First choose your process. A process which can be a good candidate for effective implementation, has to demonstrate a high level impact, with low risk to the business. Ideally, it is well-defined, not too complex and covers all bases. Think for example of processes such as holiday requests and expense approvals. These are little bits of business process that different people in the organization all have a piece of. HR may have one part of the process, Finance another, and so on. When put together, the activities form an end-to-end process.
2. Clear goals and objectives
In selecting your first process, identifying the business needs related to the process is crucial. The first and foremost step in initiating any BPM project is to understand the needs of the organization and the expected key outcomes. You can achieve this by clearly setting overall goals that have been discussed, reviewed and agreed with the involved members as realistic. Specify objectives from these goals, for example a quantified reduction of waste of materials within a year without increasing monitoring costs. Make sure you can provide a return on investment and other supportive calculations for the goals and objectives.
3. Organizational buy-in
If you have selected your process and have identified the business goals and benefits, make sure you have the management buy-in to support the BPM project. Next to agreement about the goals and benefits, you have to engage executive sponsorship for the project and keep them involved.
4. Document and understand the process
Start with the process. Your individual business process has to be leading in the choices you are making, for example the approach and technology you are using to apply BPM. Therefore, you will have to document how you want your processes to function. Now you have to start documenting your troublesome process. If the troublesome process is too large, break it into smaller pieces. You will need to show project success. You have to unravel the complexities of the business process. Success can’t happen if people lose interest – keep the project short enough so that doesn’t happen.
5. Looking at solutions
After documenting, review your project documentation step by step to ensure it works and also in the way you intend it to do. Now you can start looking at solutions: which methodology, which partners, which technology. The solution needs to fit your business, not the other way around. Today’s BPM tools are very capable, but they cannot work magic or automate what cannot be reduced into discrete, repeatable steps. If BPM begins with tools and technology rather than goals and people, the success outcome is at risk.
To sum up, it is very important to be very clear about the scope, aims and internal support of your BPM initiative, especially if you are pioneering with BPM in your organization. Only after achieving this, you are ready to invest in documenting, analyzing and solving process inefficiencies and realize significant benefits of applying BPM to your organization.