This is What BPM Looks like When it goes Mainstream

Scott Francis
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In recent GE Capital advertisements, I couldn’t help but notice that they’re pitching their business know-how as a competitive differentiator for their customers.  Specifically, it’s their business process acumen that they’re pitching as a key differentiator:

“if you just need a loan, call a bank. But at GE Capital, we’re builders. What we know, can help you grow.”

The first commercial:

And the second, with a nice juxtaposition of sticky notes and rocket science, along with the fact that GE Capital is bringing their top lean process engineers to the table:

This is what BPM looks like when it goes mainstream (we’ve previously noted that Xerox was effectively selling outsourced BPM in some of their advertisements).  This is only perhaps the second example I’ve seen of a Fortune 500 company leveraging process improvement as a sales tool for their business in television commercials. And GE isn’t offering to outsource part of your business in these commercials – but rather to help you improve it, using the techniques that GE itself uses, with their Lean process experts.

“they showed us who does what, when, and where.  Then we hit them with the important question: why”

It’s a really interesting lens into how GE sees process improvement and how to use that expertise as a differentiator for their GE Capital business, versus a bank relationship.  But it also reveals how decidedly old-school the approach is:

  • sticky notes
  • string
  • clickers / stopwatches
  • note pads
  • clip boards

And with this, they achieved 100% improvement in efficiency at Composites Horizons.  I think they’re effective ads – partly because they claim great business benefits and promote their customers. But especially because they humanize GE Capital.  Interestingly, it humanizes BPM as well.  Who wouldn’t want to work with these guys?

But the story is also incomplete.  What happens after GE Capital’s experts leave the premises?  How will they continue to measure improvements at Composites Horizons after the timers and clickers are gone?  Will the culture of sticky notes and string persist after GE Capital leaves the building?  Will they have the expertise to do the process improvement on their own?  Where does the next set of improvements come from?

And this is where software comes in.  Software to continue to measure long after people tire of counting and timing.  Software to put up the guard rails of the new process so that the team doesn’t regress to the old way of doing things once the monitoring stops.  Software, to enable automation and integration with other systems, and coordination among disparate teams.

And in the context of business process improvement and management, that software is BPM.  With process diagrams instead of sticky notes and string. With KPI measurements instead of stopwatches and clickers.  And with the same series of questions about who, where, when, how and why.  Of course, the challenge of passing on the culture of business process improvement remains with BPM software – and that’s where a company like BP3 comes in – to provide temporary critical mass to jump-start a new culture around business process management and improvement, followed by ongoing support for a company’s internal BPM team.

If you ask me, these are the kinds of ads we’d be running if we were IBM, rather than the more aspirational “Smarter Planet” or “Smarter Process” ads.  These are the kinds of ads BP3 would be running if we were a Fortune 500 BPM provider with a Fortune 500 ad budget.

 

 

 

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