Business process management (BPM) delivers significant benefits to organizations, but some have faced many problems due to wrong turns along the way, according to Gartner analysts. They have identified five BPM threats that business process improvement (BPI) leaders need to be mindful of as organizations progress with their BPM initiatives.
“Considerable attention has been paid to the value of BPM and the dramatic transformation it can bring to an organization, but undertaking BPM isn’t easy and BPI leaders and practitioners often stumble along the journey,” says John Dixon, research director at Gartner. “BPM can be fraught with challenges due to the scale and breadth of skills, attributes, and tools needed to be successful. BPM also presents innumerable challenges in areas such as organizational change, measurement systems, communications, business analysis, improvement methodologies, and vendor selection.”
With this in mind, Gartner has compiled five BPM pitfalls to avoid. They include:
Pitfall No. 1: Being caught unprepared to demonstrate value delivered
With this pitfall, the BPM team may well have delivered some value to the organization, but if it did, it failed to keep a record of these achievements, or to routinely communicate them to those who matter. All BPM projects should start with an understanding of how success (i.e., outcomes) will be measured. It is vital to understand what the team is trying to improve (with a baseline measurement) and the corresponding improvement (metric). This metric must be communicated to the business to clearly articulate the benefits delivered. The key is to learn the language of the organization and to use that language to communicate success.
Pitfall No. 2: Deploying a BPM system without understanding BPM as a discipline
Deploying a cutting-edge business BPM system will solve nothing unless the organization also applies BPM as a discipline. BPM is not about technology. Because it fundamentally changes how people work, BPM is about change. The problem with relying solely on input from one subject-matter expert, or a group of managers, is that the developed process will reflect only what the expert or managers think it should be. This “offline” analysis misses one of the greatest opportunities for improvement: mapping the real process.
Pitfall No. 3: Launching a BPM effort based on perceived problems, without validating facts
BPM activities must be based on facts and data rather than reactions to those who shout the loudest. When starting a BPM initiative, it is good practice to allot a period of time to set up and gather metrics before process improvement work occurs. This period should be agreed to upfront with the BPM steering committee or project sponsors to properly set expectations.
Pitfall No. 4: Developing BPM capabilities without delivering business value
A BPM team must build its capabilities, but this effort must be balanced with a degree of realism. The organization wants to see some return on its investment, often relatively quickly. Effort must be made to deliver benefits—even if they are relatively small at first—and to communicate them to the business so it can see some return on investment and feel positive about maintaining funding.
Pitfall No. 5: Focusing on mapping processes instead of improving them
BPM teams can get lost in mapping processes, acting under the assumption that this mapping activity amounts to “doing BPM.” However, if these process maps are not used as a tool for bringing about real business improvements, or if such productive use cannot be demonstrated, they have no inherent value. BPM teams must track and communicate the business value delivered.
Additional information is available in the Gartner report, “Tales From the Trenches: Five BPM Pitfalls to Avoid.”
Dixon, is the chairman of Gartner Business Process Summit 2012, which takes place March 14–15, in London. He will discuss how to overcome the barriers to BPM success in further detail there. For more information about the summit, visit www.gartner.com/eu/bpm. Additional information from the event will be shared on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Gartner_inc and using #GartnerBPM.
The Gartner Business Process Management Summit 2012 in Baltimore will be held April 25–27. Additional information about it is available here.