How to Counter Employee Resistance to BPM Initiatives

ball_up_hillWe know that people resist change so the obvious strategy to decreasing resistance is to minimize change and make the change transparent.

Let’s take a virtual tour of an organization.

You are a consultant with a mandate to increase staff efficiency, improve process throughput, decrease errors and improve compliance with internal and external rules and regulations.

Where do you start?

Step 1
Do a gap analysis.

How good a job is the organization doing in these areas and where would the organization like to be following implementation of the changes you will be recommending?

Understanding how all the pieces fit together.

Rule #1 is that operations follows strategy. If you don’t know where you want to end up chances are you will not get there. If you do manage to get there, you won’t know it.

So, each process must be supportive of strategy.

How do we ensure this?

Well, given a set of strategic objectives, we simply need to rationalize how each process instance advances one or more strategic objectives.

In-place processes should either directly support strategic objectives or indirectly support strategic objectives.

Strategic Objective: Improve quality image at the customer level by reducing product returns by 20% over two years.
Process Contribution: increase QA sampling rate from 5% to 100% by putting a process in-line.

The project covering the QA sampling rate increase will, in the normal course of events, be cost justified by an ROI.

Step 2 

Manage the New Process Project

You’ll need a timeline for this and the methodology of choice is a Gantt chart or a CPM diagram (plan, monitor, control).

The deliverable at Step 2 is the required infrastructure plus a BPM flow graph.

Step 3
Put the flow graph in-line, not on-line, assuming a certain level of complexity of the process.

If the process consists of only several steps, connected serially, you could be done once you take staff through change management and publish the paper process flow graph or map.

Otherwise, (i.e. processes characterized by multiple steps, connected in complex ways, where different skilled resources are required to perform different steps, where step-specific data must be collected), you need to put your process in line.

On-line vs. In-line

The distinction between on-line and in-line is all important.

Organizations routinely post policy and procedure to corporate web sites. The presumption is staff will refer to the content. Don’t count on it!

In-line is “in your face”. Staff receives all work assignments at their individual InTrays (including work assignments they impose on themselves).

How do you get staff to adapt to the “change”?

If you go the InTray route, there is little change so resistance should be low.

Our approach is to remind users that there is very little difference between an e-InTray and traditional “agenda books” they are all familiar with and have used at one time or another.

The UI can consist of nothing more than a calendar on one side of a computer screen and a to-do list on the other side.

Staff quickly gets it that fixed time appointments go on the calendar and floating time appointments go on the to-do list.

Events on the calendar require no explanation. Click, you get to a form that allows you to document an event occurrence, you save and then, when you commit, you are done.

As for managing to-do lists, tasks post, they are performed, they clear from InTrays. If you cannot empty your InTray for today, you re-schedule to another day or, if delays cannot be tolerated, your supervisor will assign one or more tasks to someone else.

Easy for you, easy for the organization and today, with mobile options, communicating with people and software systems is straightforward and inexpensive.

So, on your next assignment where stakeholders ask “How will you manage change?” your response should be “I’ll take care of it”.

Courtesy to Walter Keirstead. This blog is also available on

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By Karl Walter Keirstead @ Civerex | April 17, 2014

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