Process Fundamentals for BPM Maturity
Over the past decade, the Business Process Management (BPM) approach has enabled some organizations to improve operational efficiency and delivery. Advancements in Business Process Management Software (BPMS), coupled with implementation best practices and continuous improvement programs, have allowed the most forward-thinking organizations to focus their attention on core business processes that drive value for their customers. The problem is that most organizations operate within a low level of process maturity; they are not able to fully maximize the value of implementing an enterprise-wide BPMS solution. Achieving an ideal end state of process efficiency, perhaps including some robotic process automation (RPA), is possible if built on a foundation of strong BPM techniques.
Here are 4 steps to help ensure your organization is ready to move along the continuum of business process management maturity:
1. Take Inventory
If you have ever asked a business or functional unit for a process inventory only to be met with a look of confusion, disappointment, perhaps even curiosity, you are not alone. While all companies know the services it delivers or the products it produces, having a central view into all core and supporting processes is not as readily available. The good news is this information is known throughout the organization; it may just take a bit of work to pull it together.
Achieving an ideal end state of process efficiency, perhaps including some robotic process automation (RPA), is possible if built on a foundation of strong BPM techniques
Why is this important? Having a solid understanding of all processes employed within the enterprise is the key component of a successful BPM deployment. Basic information contained within the inventory may include the process list, owner(s), critical dependencies, and key inputs and outputs. It is also useful to keep track of process analysis activities that have been completed, such as whether or not it has been mapped, key metrics have been identified and/or collected, current performance levels and targets, etc. The more attributes you track regarding each process, the better off you will be as you progress down the BPM journey.
2. Map & Measure
The next step is to evaluate current performance. In order to do so, you need to peel back the various layers to understand what is going on. Process mapping is the best place to start. Simply documenting the various activities and hand-offs within a process fosters constructive dialogue regarding potential improvements and may help identify quick wins. Mapping is also a must-have requirement for detailed process analysis and advanced capabilities, such as deployment of a BPMS solution or implementing workflow automation.
Measuring process performance using data and analytics is also critical. Organizations with higher levels of process maturity not only measure output, but also have insight into predictive analytics, various key performance indicators (KPIs), cycle times, waste, and execution costs among other measures. This type of data allows businesses to truly answer the questions: Are we successful in delivery? How much does it cost to execute? Is there an opportunity for improvement? Is the process under control? Have we streamlined activities to reduce waste? If these are the types of questions and discussions you are having using data, you are in a good spot for further BPM capabilities.
3. Analyze& Deploy
While it is possible, if not likely, that implementing a BPMS solution would add value to organizations with low process maturity, there are several reasons to hold off until maturity has increased. First, by having an understanding of your basic process architecture and inventory, it is easier to recognize the potential benefits BPMS would bring to the organization. Next, having strong process analytics allows organizations to prioritize the most effective BPMS deployment strategy, especially the more advanced features such as workflow automation. Focusing attention on the areas with the biggest improvement potential often helps manage change resistance. Finally, most BPMS solutions are not “off the shelf” and require some level of resource and financial investment to implement. Having a detailed view into your process architecture and analytics, including performance and costs, is critical to understanding the potential return on investment with your BPMS investment.
4. Continuously Improve
There is no end game to business process management. Competition will continue to force businesses to innovate and change while processes will continue to become more complex. Obtaining a strong foundation in BPM fundamentals, including deployment of a BPMS solution, are tools that should be used to continuously evaluate the performance of what you produce or deliver. BPM artifacts should be kept up-to-date and used as inputs to direct organizational improvement initiatives.
During the next decade we will continue to see new advancements within the business process management ecosystem. Whether your organization is just beginning the BPM journey, or already a leader in terms of advanced techniques and utilization, having a strong foundation will be critical to overall success in business process management.