Business Process Management (BPM) is an essential part of any organization to implement for the success of any Business. As you have seen that there are many essential success factors associated with implementing BPM. But at the same time, there are also some major mistakes and pitfalls that can really destroy BPM from ever taking off within an organization. Below we will explain the top 10 BPM pitfalls to avoid and what you need to take care of while implementing BPM.
Throughout my time as both Process Analyst and Business Technology architect, I’ve witnessed many basic mistakes or you can see below the top 10 BPM pitfalls to avoid, and that have prevented managers from achieving the full benefits BPM has to offer.
Luckily, I’ve managed to condense most of these into a few pages so that you can anticipate these problems well before they arise and thwart your project.
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- Top 10 BPM Pitfalls to Avoid in Implementing BPM
- 1. Lack of Executive Endorsement for BPM Project
- 2. Not establishing a Business Case for BPM
- 3. Not Investing in Staff
- 4. Lack of Communication Channels
- 5. Not Appointing Process Stewards
- 6. Poorly defined measures of success
- 7. Not developing a roadmap
- 8. Implementing IT-led BPM
- 9. Implementing Lean or Six Sigma-led BPM
- 10. Getting distracted by the wrong advice and/or other projects
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Top 10 BPM Pitfalls to Avoid in Implementing BPM
Below are the Top 10 BPM Pitfalls to avoid while implementing Business Processes (BPM)
1. Lack of Executive Endorsement for BPM Project
The first BPM Pitfall where executive endorsement is the key to successful BPM implementation. The senior executives in the organization must commit themselves to the project, irrespective of the direction from which it originates (IT, business unit, etc.).
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It is essential to identify an executive sponsor as soon as possible. Without one your project will develop a range of problems that will increase the risk to the project. Without a precise mandate from top management, it would be very challenging for the project manager to satisfy all affected business managers. Eventually, the organization may simply lose interest or divert resources onto other initiatives.
Executive buy-in helps to broadcast any concerns at senior levels and act as a catalyst for advocating innovation on future BPM projects.
Another way to approach executive endorsement is by establishing a Steering Group. As mentioned previously, a Steering Group should be a neutral, business-oriented governance body. This should prioritize activities, settle arguments, and establish effective project principles.
A Steering Group should include a range of people who represent different areas of the organization (such as IT senior management, operations heads, and even client-facing managers).
Who should be in the Steering Committee Group?
- An executive head of the organization. Ideally, this should be the Chief Operating Officer (COO) and therefore chief sponsor for the project. Staff at this level usually have the clout to overcome political obstacles and the ability to push through any resistance to organizational change.
- The CIO or IT Director should also be a part of the Steering Group to represent IT and ensure the right technological resources are provided to the project.
- The appointed head of the BPM team (usually called a center of excellence) will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the initial BPM project. They will be responsible for implementing the decisions of the Steering Group.
- Senior function managers who are directly affected by the BPM project.
2. Not establishing a Business Case for BPM
Many BPM initiatives fail because they do not start with a solid business case. A business case helps to articulate the expected benefits. The effort and expenditures that you required, and how you can measure the success.
You will get help and support from the business case to measure the benefits realized during project implementation. Additionally, some organizations make the mistake of focusing on buying a BPM tool first rather than clarifying the need for such an initiative from a business improvement perspective.
BPM is a management layer on top of existing IT applications and infrastructure. Without proper business justification for the purpose of the project, the tool may not cater to the business needs and requirements in the first place.
3. Not Investing in Staff
A common mistake repeated by many organizations is the lack of investment they make in their human resources. BPM projects require people who have specialized skills, knowledge, and experience. Process analysis is not easy and it requires people with the right habit of mind to be able to pinpoint errors and consult on cost-effective improvements.
It’s important that you hire people who have strong social behavioral skills and a high degree of emotional intelligence. Process analysts will always need to engage with clients within an organization and hiring the right people will offer you peace of mind when putting them in front of senior managers.
Additionally, organizations can address skill gaps through adequate training and offering BPM certification to their staff.
4. Lack of Communication Channels
Communication issues are the catalyst for many BPM project failures. Lack of visibility to all stakeholders can be detrimental to a project’s health and working environment. Ideally, a BPM project should have reports/dashboards/measures that can easily be digested by senior management and decision-makers.
These items can also include project status updates, concerns, risks, individual user/team performance metrics, etc.
5. Not Appointing Process Stewards
A growing trend seen in many mismanaged BPM initiatives is placing more focus on modeling processes instead of improving them. This results from not appointing process stewards.
These people are the chosen staff responsible for operational management and governance in relation to the processes owned by the respective Business Unit Manager. Your actions should ensure that the BPM operating and governance model is enforced in your respective business units effectively.
Thus, their role is to promote BPM, act as a champion of a process’s improvement culture, and ensure all process artifacts comply with global standards.
6. Poorly defined measures of success
Many BPM projects fail, as they do not have a properly established acceptance and measurement criteria. Before initiating any process improvement initiative, it is essential to measure the current performance and the expected benefits.
These should serve as a baseline for measuring the post-implementation value a BPM project offers to the organization. At the end of the project, management should also expect a proper accounting of cost and benefits to determine whether to continue with additional BPM projects.
7. Not developing a roadmap
Organizations often struggle with deriving planned benefits out of their BPM strategy due to lack of a proper road map. BPM is a comprehensive discipline, and it is therefore necessary to put some thought into planning.
All BPM activities, you should identify in a spreadsheet with an associated timeline for implementation. Each activity should also have a list of affected stakeholders as well as the estimated cost of project implementation.
More importantly, it’s essential that the BPM roadmap aligns with the organizational long-term strategy (sometimes called a business blueprint). This document usually defines how the organization will grow and position itself as a competitor in the marketplace.
Lastly, You should have BPM roadmap helps to establish the ownership and governance structures required to continuously measure and improve the effectiveness of a process. At a later stage, you can see and realize that, how these tools can be adapted to change in the business environment.
8. Implementing IT-led BPM
If you give the lead for Any BPM initiative to IT can be a strong reason for failure. BPM is a business-led management discipline that involves changes to people, processes, information, and the working environment.
IT Teams may help to achieve this through the use of automation engines. But IT Teams cannot be the owner of the BPM initiative. Organizations or Businesses need to adopt a business-led approach to BPM. Whereby the person who actually completes the work of the business, should be considered the process enablers. Those team members should be empowered to facilitate process improvements.
9. Implementing Lean or Six Sigma-led BPM
In addition to letting the IT department implement BPM, some organizations may also make the mistake of delegating Lean or Six Sigma staff to implement BPM instead.
People or teams who are trained in either Lean or Six Sigma, only see the world through a “process measurement” lens. They rarely have the training or skills to understand how to actually manage processes.
Furthermore, Lean and Six Sigma are sub-functions of BPM and only participate in process improvement once a process analyst has finished developing his or her models.
Lean and Six Sigma practitioners also tend to think at the tactical/operational levels of an organization. They are not employed to focus on strategic-level objectives like business strategy and business architecture practitioners are.
10. Getting distracted by the wrong advice and/or other projects
A Management Consultant whom I used to work with once said to me that BPM was like organizing a wedding. Everyone has an opinion on how you should do things. When you start implementing BPM in your organization, you will likely find that “experts” will come out of nowhere and attempt to steal your limelight.
- They may offer advice in good faith despite them having very little understanding of BPM in the first place.
- You will also probably encounter managers, who at some stage in their forty-year career, undertook process management training (like a Six Sigma course) and think they’re experts by virtue of that.
- Even Lean and Six Sigma practitioners may also attempt to thwart your efforts as many believe that BPM starts and ends solely with process measurement—which we have learned is not the case.
If you do come across these types of problems, then my recommendation is to refer back to this article and ally yourself with your colleagues in the business strategy and business architecture teams.
It is common that employees who work in these areas have management consulting backgrounds and have likely worked in organizations that have successfully implemented BPM. Also, these types of employees usually approach their work using a structured way of thinking. These employees would almost definitely be able to grasp the BPM discipline immediately when it was presented to them.
In particular, business architects usually have certification, and BPM was probably a core part of the curriculum.
I have seen that many times teams distracted by other projects. These Projects can divert you from your original goal of implementing BPM. I have seen many instances where managers and teams diverted from BPM projects. Because of senior executives needed to react to changing market conditions—and therefore decided to place a hold on all existing projects.
Such circumstances will be beyond your control. However, if you’ve received senior executive endorsement at the beginning of your BPM implementation project. In this case, you’ll be able to minimize the chances of the project being either delayed or canceled.
Lastly, it’s important to be aware of BPM fads and be able to distinguish the difference between those that work and those that don’t.
Involve everyone across the enterprise was highly ambitious, and both customers and busy operations staff lacked motivation or time to participate in such activities.
Software companies also argued that they already had collaboration functionalities embedded in their software. But in reality, these were rarely used by anyone outside BPM circles. As of writing this article, advocates of Social BPM are still unable to demonstrate any linkage between Social BPM and the non-IT aspects of the BPM discipline (such as people, process, and governance).
However, as tools become much more advanced and new functionalities are added, Social BPM may become a focus for discussion again in the future.