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10 New Year Resolutions for BPM Practitioners #2: Don’t Mention the “P-word”; Instead Talk About Driving Key Business Outcomes

By Samantha Searle | February 08, 2013 | 0 Comments

An interesting critical success factor for BPM emerged from some of our research last year. Those who succeed at BPM don’t mention the “P-word” (what…process?!!) or even talk about six sigma! Why I hear you ask? Well anyone outside IT, or who isn’t an engineer or working in manufacturing finds the concept of process about as clear as mud! In fact talking to the business about process can be one of the quickest ways to get them to switch off and stop listening. So how can you get round this?

I think you could learn something from an old board game called “Taboo”. You might recall that the aim of this game was to prompt your teammates to guess a certain word but without using 5 “taboo” words. In our case, if you’re talking about BPM, the 5 taboo words might be “process”, six sigma” “BPMN”, “models” and “standardization”.

The point of this exercise is not to deprive your BPM team of a useful vocabulary, but to teach them to use a different vocabulary, a more business-orientated one. Encourage them to speak a language that the business understands and will resonate with them, then you will have their attention. This means talking about business outcomes. The minute you start talking about process, business users think back to that ERP implementation a few years back…that was about process…and it brought about disruption and unwanted change! Not a good association….

However, if instead you talk to the business about driving key business outcomes such as improving product/service quality, increasing customer satisfaction, growing the business THAT is something that will make them sit up and take notice. It’s their business, they can relate to it and it’s no doubt what they are measured on in their performance objectives. If you can help them improve their business and their chances of meeting/exceeding their performance objectices, then you’ll be their new best friend! So…

DON’T talk about process standardization or automation; DO talk about improving quality and efficiency
DON’T talk about implementing a new call center or CRM system, DO talk about delivering an excellent customer experience
DON’T talk about using a BPMS; do talk about business transformation and innovation to gain competitive advantage in your market/industry

After all, given that organizational politics was voted as the top barrier to BPM success in a recent Gartner survey, revolutionizing the way we talk about BPM is the key to breaking down this barrier. I’d love to hear your stories of how you’ve engaged with the business during your BPM program – how have you tried to engage the business in BPM and overcome organizational politics?

If you’re a Gartner seatholder and subscribe to our research then you can read more on this topic in the following note: Gain Business Buy-in for BPM or Consign Your BPM Program to Oblivion.

You’re also most welcome to attend one of our upcoming regional Gartner BPM Summits:

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