For years, Business Process Management (BPM) technology has been used to address optimization and rationalization issues in work organizations. There’s often a misconception, though, that BPM is mostly about automating workflow in individual processes.
This view falls short of addressing the hottest needs of today’s organizations : achieve wide-ranging business transformation. So how do we strike the right balance between developing efficient, enterprise-wide processes and maximizing their alignment with corporate goals?
First, Get The Big Picture…
BPM is about more than just increasing efficiency or cutting costs in a department, group, or enterprise. At Aprico, we believe that it should serve enterprise goals. To that end, we focus on strategy long before process modeling or automation starts.
That means careful analysis of current processes to understand their related
issues. See what goes on inside a process, for example:
- What individuals are involved in the process, and what are their respective responsibilities?
- How do team members work and
- how do their tasks fit in with their colleagues’ activities?
- Is the process based on a structured or ad hoc work style?
- Does it require interaction with a wide range of content types?
- What information do team members need to access and how?
Too often in this exercise, I find that business executives are removed from the staff that’s involved in day-to-day operations. So BPM provides a unique opportunity to bridge this disconnect between executives and staff. And it also provides the foundation you need for business and IT professionals to work more collaboratively.
Align with Strategy
According to the ISO 9001 standard, the primary goal to achieve quality management is to meet or exceed customer expectations. So this calls for aligning business processes to meet customer needs.
To that end, I offer the following tips:
Talk to Domain Experts
To understand an organization’s processes, you can’t beat collecting information by face-to-face interviews with team members.
Ask people to explain what they do. Get the big picture about their knowledge, skills, and connections to each other. Identify their roles and responsibilities carefully. You might find that their roles and responsibilities are ill-defined, or have often changed over time.
In traditional organizations, people still think in terms of individual tasks, rather than streamlined processes. You need to see beyond the biases that can cause inertia or resistance to change.
Assess Task Value
By processes, we mean a set of activities that, taken together, produce an outcome that is of value to a customer. That’s why you need to ascertain:
- Why each action is performed
- What value is added by each action
- Whether an action can be eliminated without negatively impacting the outcome.
Individual tasks handled by multiple people with successive handoffs can cause problems, including inefficiencies, errors or delays.
A process improvement may therefore require coordination, such as aligning activities, tasks, and information among interdependent units in an organization. Achieving the optimal level of coordination will often reduce bottlenecks and cycle times.
Implement the Process
The next step is to translate the insights that you have gathered into action. This will likely require bridging separate silos of activity within the organization. Depending on circumstances, you may :
- Focus on Organizational Issues: a “culture of collaboration” helps integrate and better leverage existing business processes. You can do this through formal and informal coordination mechanisms, such as coaching, working beside team members, or removing people from functional departments and assigning them to a process or case team. Process definition and documentation play a key role here.
- Focus on Automation where required: a BPMS platform can play a substantial role in driving efficiency, process automation, and worker productivity. It will provide an integrated environment that can integrate systems, transactions, and data through automation.
A BPM implementation, however, requires integration with your existing infrastructure. Connectivity is critical for linking processes to the resources they control, such as people, system data and event streams.
Pre-built components, such as out-of-the-box interface applets and connectors to legacy that are provided by professional services firms, such as Aprico, can help you configure solutions without extensive custom development, reducing time-to-value. The benefits can include development time and cost savings, increased flexibility of applications, and reduced time-to-market.
Aprico: The BPM Partner
to Get it Done Right
At Aprico, we believe that harnessing business processes is key to remaining competitive in today’s digital age.
With over two decades’ experience helping companies transform their businesses, we can help you implement a consistent and sound Business Process Management. Our process analysis and process improvement skills, combined with domain expertise in key industries, such as financial services, energy, transportation, and government, can go a long way to optimizing business performance.
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