Accelerating your Lean initiative with BPM

Lean 2A lot of organizations embrace Lean as a way of working with business processes, for manufacturing to service oriented businesses and to healthcare. And Lean is really a good way of starting to work with processes. It will help changing the culture by bringing people together and work on improvements in processes surrounding their team. It changes mindsets of thinking about processes and that I as a process participant actually can contribute to enhance processes that I work with daily. And not last, it gives a proven framework on how I can improve processes and remove waste.

So far so good. But what happens after the second or third iteration of processes improvement on a specific process? Well, in many cases the number of improvement decreases and gets close to nothing. All waste has been removed and the process as such is as nimble as it can be in the current context. Meanwhile the current burden of the companies’ legacy application and IT capacity still exists and doesn’t enable the new way of working in processes. In the manual or semi manual world that the process operates in, the cross geographic issues still resides and the local discrepancies increase the global complexity especially in large organizations. A lot of office time is spent on measuring and populating dashboards and updating Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and it all is becoming a burden.

Is this something that sounds familiar and do you recognize it? So what is the next step? How can you capitalize on already hard invested money in Lean and accelerate the effect on Lean?  Taking Lean to the next level?

The answer is to introduce Business Process Management (BPM) technology in to the equation and specifically Business Process Management Suites (BPMS).

BPM will enable a lot of things that will increase the performance of you already Lean business processes. BPM allows you to facilitate cross functional and geographies transformation and ensuring that no matter where within the organization an activity is performed and where in the world, all cases are in control. The BPMS platform is design specifically for process oriented application development and will support the new way of working in a much faster way than development in Java or .NET. Having applications that supports business processes to a 100% also decreases the need for SOPs and that will effectively accelerate on-boarding of new staff. Also, since we’re on a BPMS platform we can actually let this platform be a wrapper around old legacy application and by doing this utilize IT in a better way. This also means that you can implement new functions into the application without effecting the legacy systems underneath.

Since the process are within the new application running on the BPMS platform, new ways of improvements arises. All performance metrics around the process is stored by default in most BPMS platforms which means that we know who did what, how long it took and how they did it by default (audit trail). This means we get all the performance metrics as standard and we can via Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) within the BPMS platform create dashboards that create real-time and historic monitoring of KPIs within the process for team leaders and process owners. We could also see where within the process we got performance issues due to resource restrains. These areas could be in focus for the next optimization of process and maybe the activity that had a resource restrain could be automated instead of having a person doing the activity.

Another benefit for IT when using a BPMS platform is that it enables IT to transform and consolidate the existing IT landscape while still providing new functionalities while still utilizing existing legacy systems with BPMS. For the companies that has been using BPMS for some time this is a reality. All of a sudden they can perform their transformation without big bang approaches and still enable business on their demands for new functionality that derives from their process improvements.

In my mind, there is no doubt that BPM and technology within this area will reduce the cost of running Lean. The combination of BPM capabilities and Lean foundations opens up for new possibilities and focus areas for future. Possibilities that will help you in Operational Excellence for your organization.


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By Ola Elverskog @ Business Dynamics | December 17, 2013

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