What does Billy Joel have to do with BPM?

“Get is right the first time

That’s the main thing

I can’t afford to let it pass

Get is right the next time

That’s not the same thing

Gonna make the first time last”

(Billy Joel, Get It Right the First Time, The Stranger album, 1977).


Design and Analysis – Get It Right the First Time

There is a lot said to getting your project right the first time. Troubleshooting implementations and deployments as a result of missed requirements creates huge headaches and potentially millions in lost opportunities (see CIO’s dire article “10 Famous ERP Disasters, Dustups and Disappointments”).

When preparing a BPM implementation, carefully approach the Design and Analysis phase of the project. The business and technical requirements gathered result in a “specification” document used to estimate level of effort (LOE) and create an associated project plan. Within every project plan there is normally time budgeted for troubleshooting, but the goal is to have documented comprehensive requirements eliminating any doubt around objectives and expectations. The art and science of asking questions, therefore, becomes crucial to finishing projects on time and under budget.

For BPM projects, business analysts should be asking the following questions:

  • What are your overall goals for process automation (e.g., reduce costs, improve services, ensure compliance)?
  • How is success measured? What KPI’s need to be tracked (e.g., wait times, cycle times, quantities, preferences, behaviors)?
  • What is the project timeline? With the resources available can you meet the deadline? Are team members trained sufficiently to ensure proper analysis, design and development? Will you need help? Is there a budget in place for contingencies (resources leave, get sick)?
  • Do you have use cases that describe process scenarios?
  • Who are the main actors in the process? What are their roles and responsibilities?
  • What are the activities in the workflow? How does each actor participate (rules governing roles, responsibilities, policies, procedures, schedules, deadlines, escalations, notifications, responses, etc.)?
  • What data will be collected during each activity?
  • How does the user log-in and interact with the application? What can each role see and do within the User Interface?
  • How should the user interact with the form? Are there mandatory fields?
  • Will the process need to pass data and/or documents with 3rd party systems such as EDMS, ERP or databases? If yes, which systems should be integrated now vs later? Are these systems open and available via web services? Will data flow one way or bi-directionally?
  • What is your planned installation architecture (e.g., two-tier, multi-tier, clustered)? Do you have the hardware/infrastructure in place? Do you require load balancing?
  • What reports will be produced? Are the data inputs available within the forms, process models, or some other system?
  • Are you taking advantage of best practices?
  • Do you know all the functionality the suite of tools offers to create a the most effective and efficient user experience?
  • Do you have a plan for training end users?

By answering all these questions you create a requirements spec, estimated level of effort, and project plan that serve as a strong foundation to managing a successful project. What you will then need are talented team members (see blog post on Talent Development) and great project management (upcoming blog post).


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By Garth Knudson @ Bizagi | November 13, 2012

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