The Great Process Debate: Business vs. IT

So we’ve all probably heard the questions, either from direct or indirect customers, either straightforwardly or in a round-about way. Who’s making us do this? How is this benefiting my team? Is BPM even applicable to this project? Is BPM an IT or a Business methodology?

If you’re not a direct practitioner of BPM within an organization, then it is often hard to understand the value of the methodology. I’ve even been a part of projects within which the team members felt that BPM was being imposed upon them, almost as an administrative task or check-the-box, stifling their progress and affecting their timelines.
Who’s making us do this? The BPM bullet had to have been shot from one side or the other…IT or the Business; because of course this couldn’t benefit both, and their priorities are rarely aligned.


The Business case…

From a purely business perspective, BPM can be (and should be) used to establish…what I’ve grown to call…well-managed and audit-ready business processes. Process models are up-to-date. Ownership frameworks are being used. Change control plans are leveraged. The baseline is set for continuous improvement. This allows for optimized performance, sustainability, and adaptability. The business value almost speaks for itself, but in addition, here are a few examples to support the Business case for ownership of the BPM methodology:

Align Business Processes with Strategic Intent – BPM is used to bridge the gap between strategy and delivery, between high-level plans and tangible/measureable tasks, between ideation and realization.

Identification and Elimination of Non-Value-Add Activities – BPM is often used with Lean approaches to remove waste from a process; increasing speed, removing bottlenecks, improving cycle-time and repeatability, and syncing with customer expectations.  This creates significant value in business performance, from production rate on a manufacturing line to time-to-market on a consumer-facing initiative.

Changing Market Dynamics – Organizations need to have adaptability to changes and ability to modify strategies as needed. BPM helps organizations to assess current environment and design processes that enable flexibility and adaptability to changing market dynamics.

Difficulty Managing Cross-functional Business Processes – BPM enables organizations to measure the effectiveness of cross-functional processes and tie individual accountability to business value drivers…ultimately developing plans to tie process performance to process owner incentives.

Reduced Growth Within Market – Using BPM, organizations can model and optimize business processes, and prioritize investment in those processes which enable differentiation…thereby mitigating negative trends like reduced growth or declining profits.


The IT case…

An IT professional, especially one who has utilized process modeling or architecture, knows first-hand the value and streamlining-ability of the BPM methodology. They would likely prefer a Business customer who has already subscribed to BPM and/or a project that has chosen to follow the methodology throughout delivery…and here are a few examples to support this notion:

Process/Technology Alignment – BPM facilitates the alignment of business processes with the technologies that enable them; thereby optimizing intended value, improving end-user performance and business metrics, and streamlining transformations.

Implementations – When implementing new technologies, often chosen to better respond to customer expectations or support improved business operations, BPM enables the collection and alignment of both functional and technical requirements; allowing for more applicable and sustainable solutions.

Use Cases and Test Scenarios – BPM enables the identification and documentation of success and failure scenarios based on detailed business requirements, to ensure coverage of all reasonable operating conditions. Process Architecture – BPM uses business process architecture to illustrate a top-down view of people, processes, and technology elements across an organization, which enables decomposition of strategy into actionable activities. BPM also allows Enterprise Architects to map enabling applications to business process, understand cross-functional impact of application changes, and capture IT-related audit and control information sources.

IT PMO – BPM allows the effective management and implementation of business-enabling technologies, new capabilities of existing applications, and other SDLC initiatives. Effectively used, BPM enables reduced development time for IT initiatives by identifying and leveraging existing process and technology components across an enterprise. As well, BPM
facilitates more informed sourcing decisions…insource or outsource.


Final thought…

So…is BPM an IT or a Business methodology? Yes, to both. BPM is an enterprise methodology. BPM doesn’t just bridge the gap between strategy and delivery; it bridges the gap between IT and the Business. It helps both organizations to realize and leverage the fact that they have common priorities and united goals. Optimized business processes. Systems that enable business operations. Improved customer experience. Alignment of people, processes, and technology.  IT and the Business need each other, and the customer needs them both. They all need BPM…
In your experiences, and within your organizations, how has IT or the Business realized the benefits and value of BPM?



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By Derrian Hollingsworth @ Electrolux Major Appliances | September 20, 2012

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