Over the last few years, there has been resurgence in the interest in BPM as the preferred platform for automating and managing the critical business processes within the organization. However, the programs that do choose to implement a BPMS enabled solution are usually attacking the high-visibility and critical aspects of the business such as Call Centre Management or Claims Management. In my opinion, this is more prone to a big-bang disaster than other approaches to BPM adoption. I believe the simpler (and less risky) approach is to select a much smaller, but human effort intensive, business scenario and prove the capabilities and benefits before launching a full-blown enterprise wide program.
To be fair to the BPM champions in the enterprise, the relatively high cost of the BPM suites does call for a significantly large up-front investment and hence only high-profile programs provide the funding opportunity to launch a BPM initiative. However, large programs also tend to be complicated, with multiple stakeholders, fewer quantifiable goals and higher risks. In essence, they are everything that one should avoid when trying to inject a new paradigm, especially one that involves such greater collaboration between IT and business stakeholders as a BPM adoption journey.
Thankfully, the journey doesn’t need to be that difficult and there is a way to achieve success with a little bit of forward planning and involved execution. Let me try to list down the steps.
- Shortlist a human task intensive business process.
Never under estimate the power of a quick win. The best processes to start off are the ones which are reasonably complicated and involve a high human task element. Remember, most BPMS tools evolved from traditional business process automation and that’s the sweet spot for most of them.
- Shortlist the Top 2 candidate product vendors
While most organisations still believe in a long-drawn full-fledged product evaluation cycle to choose the BPMS vendor to sign up, I believe that its usually just a due-diligence as opposed to a serious evaluation. In most cases, you should be able to identify the top two vendors which meet 80-90% of your requirements. I suggest you shortlist the two and move on to the next step with a tidy saving.
- Run a 2 weeks Boot Camp
Never buy software by reading a brochure or doing a paper based assessment of RFI responses. Most product vendors would either respond with a fancy presentation or a detailed written document which would either convince (or confuse) anyone trying to choose a right fit. What the intelligent customers prefer is a demonstration of capabilities against a set of real life Use Cases specific to the business process in question. This ensures that the product vendors are forced to play in a level playing field as opposed to demonstrating only their best features and glossing over the deficiencies.
- Analyse and select the Best Fit
Once you have the results, analyse them against your key objectives and decide. If you have identified the concerns correctly and captured the findings of the Boot Camp diligently, then this should be a simple yet crucial task. The biggest challenge here is to ensure that the right stakeholders in the organisation are involved in this decision.
- Bargain Hard ! Avoid the Bells and Whistles
Once you have chosen the preferred vendor, make sure that you bargain long and hard to get the best deal. Most of the vendors will try to bundle in expensive add-on components which claim to significantly reduce your effort to develop and deploy your first application. However, you need to challenge and analyse the relevance of each of these to ensure you get the best value for your investment. If possible, try and procure an enterprise wide license as opposed to User-based license since the former would most likely turn out to be more cost-effective.
- Choose an Implementation Partner
No matter what the product webcasts tell you, BPM projects do involve a significant technology development cycle and you would, more often than not, be well advised to select a specialized implementation partner to help set you up for the first time. Implementation partners bring in specialized skills and tools to accelerate and de-risk your BPM program.
- Demonstrate the value and get your larger business case approved
Once you have all your key ingredients in place, its time to start the pilot project to demonstrate value of BPM to your business. Its important to identify the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that you need to impact and make sure that the solution consciously tracks and improves them. At the end of the pilot, there needs to be a detailed review of the results and use that as an input to the Business Case.
If you follow some of the steps listed above, you can ensure that your first step is successful and significantly less risky than otherwise. As your competency matures, keep looking for more such processes that can be automated to achieve significant savings.
Good Luck !