BPM from the bottom up or the top down? Why do BPM projects fail and what are the keys to success? Introducing a process change is hard enough under any circumstance. People resist change. The inertia of the status quo is powerful, and to overcome it requires a coordinated application of forces that are applied from both the bottom up and the top down. The technology is certainly a factor, but in my experience, how you communicate and manage the change process has far more impact.
When advising anyone who is about to take on a major BPM change initiative, the first question I ask is: “Do you have executive sponsorship and a solid communications plan?” It kills me to see motivated change agents with the best intentions encounter the proverbial “brick wall”. Their best laid plans are thwarted because the management failed to support the change. Executives must help associates understand the problems with the current state and the benefit of making the change. In short, they are called leaders for a reason.
Leadership as sponsor of change
Burn the boats! Alexander the Great and Cortes ensured their victory by removing any possibility of retreat. The same can be said for the implementation of a BPM system. At some point the leadership has to give the command. Shut off the old system; stop doing it this way, and get on board with the change! Nothing is worse than an ill planned execution of a well thought out change.
Before you start planning the next big change project, make sure that the leadership is willing to sponsor the change. I am writing this blog as a way of venting my frustration over a recent event where the leadership dropped the ball and abandoned their change agents on the beach. Don’t underestimate how far people will go to resist change. Sign a contract with your sponsors and communicate, communicate, communicate!