It seems each week I’m hearing more and more challenges – political battles, lack of support, methodology wars and skills shortages. Some highly acclaimed enterprise-wide BPM programs have bit the dust recently. Is the shine is wearing off BPM?
I have some thoughts about why this is and will keep the list short:
- Tinkering – many BPM projects tout results from automating paper intensive routine activities, many times with little, if any breakthrough re-thinking about the work. This is often because the automation is at the task or activity level. Getting a bunch of people in a room and asking them how to improve their work in a two hour meeting can’t possibly yield innovative results.
- BPM is Special – some organizations create a BPM empire from scratch and don’t play nicely in the sand box with already mature disciplines like enterprise architecture, project management and applications development. Some seem surprised to discover that business analysts can do process modeling! BPMers tout breaking down process silos while they blindly build their own methods, governance and competency centers.
- We Do BPM – the BPM group becomes a bottleneck because they are doing the detailed work. Pretty soon transformation teams, aligned with strategic processes begin to sprout up – especially in large organizations.
- One Process For All – standardization has become synonymous with BPM. Whether right or wrong, I hear many execs refer to “standardizing business processes” as their view of what BPM achieves. As an expectation, this road is fraught with politics at the front end and shadow processes at the back end.
- Cost Cutting Mode – doing things more cheaply is not always the answer. Bloomberg Businessweek, 1/28/13, alludes to Boeing’s focus on cost savings as one factor in the Dreamliner challenges. Efficiency is a short term win – there’s only so much efficiency you can wring out of your organization. Then what? Effectiveness is boundless and radically rethinking how work is done creates long term value that pays forward.
The advice here is obvious – think bigger, play nice with others, tackle unstructured and knowledge work, embrace effectiveness and focus on long-term value. BPMers need to radically rethink what the role of visibility, accountability and adaptability will be for the future of their organization. How can you make these enterprise competences? Get out and understand the work your enterprise does, find the unknown opportunity. Invent, rethink. Promote everyone being responsible for improving and innovating, not just the elite few. Be really good at communicating – really, really good. This includes listening.
This blog really isn’t about how giving advice on how to fix this. Hopefully your blood pressure is going up and you are murmuring how wrong I am. I’d like to get your thoughts – are you hearing the rumblings? Can you add to the above list? Are you in violent disagreement? Do you have a success to share?
Want more? Come to the BPM Summits (London, Washington DC, Sydney) where I will be presenting “Stop Tinkering, Start Innovating.” If you are a Gartner client – set up an inquiry and let’s tackle your challenges and put you on the path to process success.
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