Defining BPM as a methodology and BPMS as a logical subset of such, the current challenges for successful BPM implementations that have been outlined by the researchers of BPTrends and MWD Advisors seem even more pressing but also possible to be solved.
In the “State of Business Process Management” from 2014, BPTrends illustrates how BPM as a concept has remained relevant over the years, despite the overall impact of the financial crisis from 2007 on pretty much everything else, and especially compared to other (re-)emerging concepts such as (lean) 6 sigma, LSS, Kaizen and others. Holding up as an idea, business ideal or even methodology however, BPM doesn’t seem to have translated into something more tangible – an actual BPMS solution – in many cases that BTrends has analyzed. While almost 80% of the contestants indicated for instance a keen interest and also actual involvement in process improvements within their respective companies, only around 30% of that population ended up using a BPMS for the resulting endeavors.
Further “theory vs. practice” discrepancies of sometimes frightening proportions have been shown when it came to understanding BPM from an organizational perspective as the means to visualize, organize and to measure the business processes (over 60%) in contrast to understanding it more as a cost saving initiative (only 18%), while at the same time the main business driver for BPM has been specified as the “need to save money” with 54%. Yet another important business driver for the contestants has been the “need to improve customer satisfaction and organizational responsiveness” that stood in sharp contrast to the only 19% of the group that declared to have updated their process documentation and the 14% that had some sort of process performance measures in place.
How can any BPM initiative yield a positive outcome if the corporate expectations “top-down” are incoherent? Or how would it be possible to even begin to strife for better customer experiences and process improvements if no quantifiable process perfomance indicators can be had from the implementations? Or yet even worse – how can anything be done if no BPMS implementation took place to begin with and all willingness a company had to improve its processes are trapped on paper, safely shelved off for a later date?
The findings of MWD Advisors coincide to an important degree with the results of BPtrends, with a majority of the contestants being involved in process improvements but only a minority implementing actual BPMS solutions, hinting that the root causes may likely be unrelated to technical challenges but rather to a lacking methodological approach of how to translate the business goals into BPM driven technological solutions.
At the heart of the issue, it seems, companies may actually be dealing more with internal communication difficulties than with anything else. A crucial topic that the ABPMP CBOK for example addresses in its 4th chapter of how to not only define, implement and read process metrics but to – more importantly – first and foremost design a process measurement methodology that is suitable for all the involved departments AND the final customer (read end-to-end process metrics), providing meaningful and quantifiable process indicators that in turn form the basis of an effective corporate communication that then could allow for better and more frequent BPM implementations. Specific process metrics focusing on time measurements (see http://www.bpmleader.com/2013/02/11/viable-metrics-to-justify-a-bpm-project/) or general process performance benchmarks such as the metrics based APQC’s process classification framework PCF are mature candidates for businesses to take the first step of evolving from improving processes only in theory to BPMS solutions implemented in production.