BPM Adoption Strategy: Top-Down or Bottom-Up?

While discussing with a colleague of mine last week, this topic again came back to fore. We were talking about ‘the other side of the story’ (grass is always greener on the other side :-)) I was thinking about penning my thoughts on the topic for quite sometime, however, after the discussion, I thought of finishing it.

BPM adoption strategy - top-down or bottom-upWhile there are lot of BPM implementations going on, if we try and segregate them, we can identify a pattern. The implementations and the organizations which deploy them, can be fitted onto a BPM adoption strategy. The strategies can be either top-down or bottom-up!

Let’s try and quickly understand what that means.


Difference between top-down and bottom-up

When an organization and its leadership identifies and realizes that Automation and BPM can help solve important business problems, they make the push. They help identify relevant and first use cases, secure funding, line-up relevant products/ tools to start, arrange for time from SMEs/ Process experts. That is a top-down BPM adoption approach.

The other approach is bottom-up. In many organizations, some line managers/ LOB Leads are more entrepreneurial than others. They face a problem and they try to solve it without looking at ‘corporate’ for a yes. When an implementation partner comes in and says that they can help solve the problem with BPM, they feel empowered and move forward. In these cases, the biggest bottleneck is availability of budget and sustainability of success. They typically have only a few relevant but small use cases. Problems can be how to secure time from SMEs, how to secure funding for next set of use cases, and how to identify other use cases.

While we would all have read/ known articles around benefits from the customers’ perspective, I would like to discuss them from a different perspective – The Implementation Partner’s point-of-view 🙂


Top-down BPM adoption strategy

Pros for Partners:

  • Biggest advantage is that funding is secured – We don’t want work to stop because politically a program is not so strong.
  • Internal selling is cut down – Its good for implementation partners that they don’t have to convince on the fitment of a BPM use case. They can focus on the quality of the implementation.

Cons for Partners:

  • Lot of competition comes in as all other partners try for a share of pie. It’s kind of good for the customer as they have more options and it keeps the implementation team focused on results.

Bottom-up BPM adoption strategy

Pros for Partners:

  • You’ll be the TRUSTED partner – Because you have suggested the solution approach and are doing the adoption, you have a first mover advantage.
  • Smaller pie – Other players may not know the real potential as it might be just at LOB level. Other players may not be very interested looking at the pie, even if they would get to know about it.
  • Competency building – Partner gets time to build competency and skill sets and sometimes become irreplaceable due to knowledge gained over time.
  • Negotiation power – It’s a good opportunity for smaller BPM tools to come in due to lower upfront cost. It hands over lot of negotiation power to partner and organization. If they negotiate well, they can get a solution delivered at a fraction of cost:-)

Cons for Partners:

  • Always SELL – Since the funding is not secured, its always in an “arrange” mode. Partner has the added task of educating other LOB users to explain the use case of BPM and secure funding and sustain teams.

Given the situations explained above, both approaches will exist together. Sometimes a third combination also comes in, when an organization moves from a bottom-up towards a top-down BPM adoption strategy, or reverse.

Food for thought

Some really interesting situations pop up like when in a bottom-up approach, another LOB brings in another small bottom-up tool. Or when a bottom-up tool is working and another top-down tool comes in. What happens in those situations?

While we have seen both kind of implementations, can we reach a generalist model on when, which type of implementation model will work?

Another question that comes to mind is – To what extent should organizations and partners be ready to invest in competency building for a bottom-up approach?

Happy to discuss and hear views across all experts here!!

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By Ashish Yadav @ Infosys | August 15, 2016

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