A lot is being said and written about why one should adopt BPM in an organization. The larger intent and reasons to implement BPM in an organization is fairly well-understood. There are umpteen reasons for why a BPM program should be run. However, it is very important to understand that a BPM program is not just another initiative and it is a fairly ongoing process compared to most other initiatives in an organization.
BPM is not a one time activity where you automate certain repetitive workflows and leave it at that. It is an ongoing process of continuous improvement which is the fundamental premise on which the entire idea is based. With this being the case, where do you draw a line and conclude that a BPM program is successful?
KPIs & Process Performance Metrics
As the classic quote goes, you cannot control what you can’t measure. Measuring is an important aspect of assessing whether an initiative is successful or not. While a lot of emphasis is laid on the idea of measurement itself and why one needs to measure, it is important to lay as much emphasis on measuring things that actually matter. There is always a lurking danger of settling for feel-good metrics that would give you the notion that you are on the right track. There is also an imminent danger which is far-reaching in impact; you could amplify the damage a wrong process automation would do to your organization causing pain to multiple stakeholders even to carry out their day-to-day operational tasks by complicating it, while you are tracking the wrong KPIs.
Let us assume that you have figured out your goals for automation quite clearly and you are tracking the right metrics. A lot of BPM vendors provide some seemingly convincing dashboards with colorful graphs and metrics. Time taken to complete certain processes, Number of approvals pending with different stakeholders, Top N Process dashboards etc. are one way to measure if the process automation exercise is effective. However, is that a real measure of success of a BPM program? It may give you operational level insight into how your processes are getting carried out and there is a certain amount of continuous improvement mechanism that automatically sets in, simple because the very fact that you figured out your goals right means that you have signed up for a journey that helps you keep making incremental improvements to the way you work & run your processes.
However, there is a stark gap between the real objective or purpose of BPM and having some numbers that you can be proud of on your tool’s dashboard.
The Real Measure of Success
In order to understand the real success of a BPM program, it is important to get back to some fundamental questions that made us choose BPM as an option. Automation is an inevitable step and that is mainly done to free up resources from doing repetitive, manual jobs that are time & resource intensive.
But, what after that?
Has that helped us become a more employee-centric organization that channelizes the employee potential into activities are are more productive? Has it helped us become more customer-centric?
It may not be the best thing to tie it to a revenue goal and that correlation may skew the perspective of implementing a BPM program. On the other hand, cost savings is just an indicative measure and not a true measure of a BPM program’s success.
In today’s time and age every initiative should help in making organizations quickly adapt to change and result in delivering more value to the end-customer. With that idea in mind, your BPM goals should also be aligned the same way in order to achieve that. An organization can achieve customer goodwill only when there is promptness in service and value in delivery. The product/service accounts for one part of it but it is the experience at different interaction they have with the frontline employees in your organization. Hence, it becomes equally important for them to realise how important their role in providing that experience to their customers.
There is also a popular school of thought that believes that employees are the internal customers. Hence, a BPM program should have the complete buy-in of your internal customers(your employees that includes technical and non-technical users). It is hence essential that the program makes life easier & things simpler for the stakeholders of the processes you have chosen to automate & improve. In order to achieve real success of a BPM program, it is important to not lose sight of this goal at every step involved in embarking on a BPM program. Building a more employee-efficient & a customer-centric company through proper structuring and managing of business processes is the pinnacle of success in executing a BPM initiative.