More Highlights from #IBMInterconnect

Scott Francis
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I have to share some additional highlights from IBM’s Interconnect conference.  On Monday, after the General Session, I joined several executives from IBM’s European operation and from BP3 for lunch, to continue discussions started in London and Germany.  We’ve been the best IBM BPM partner since 2010, but we’re committed to being an even better IBM business partner in the future than we have been in the past – and we now have the scale of operations to do just that.

Lunch was followed by checking in at our booth, which was already hopping with visitors. I had a chance to catch up with Lombardi alumni colleagues and partners and customers, before heading off to see one of our customers, Costco, give a great presentation on their process improvement journey.

Costco is a success story of multiple partners, teams, and champions.  And they’ve achieved that success because they’ve been able to build support across constituencies inside and outside their organization.  Costco has grown so much over 25 years, that many of the systems haven’t kept pace.  So how do you make all the process improvements you want when the systems are baking in rigidity?

I found it fascinating how Guislan of Costco de-coded some of the key terminology issues:

  • “green screens” for the business were synonymous with business inflexibility.
  • work lost in stacks of paper and email, actually speaks to non-standard manual processes
  • “Business” felt that BPMS meant no more green screens – in other words, return of business flexibility
  • “IT” felt that BPMS meant continuous process management and improvement, in other words, tracking down all these ungoverned processes and improving them

There was also great BPM consulting advice conveyed in this presentation.  Tie your efforts back to company culture and mission. In Costco’s case, how can BPM fail to be tied to:

  • continually provide our members with quality goods and services at the lowest possible prices (process savings are a great boost to this mission)
  • take care of our customers (members), take care of our employees, respect our suppliers (again, great process does all three)

When you relate your process improvement efforts to corporate culture, values, mission – and you relate it to past process improvement successes, you’re more likely to find common ground and mission.  This isn’t dis-similar to how Phil Gilbert has called upon IBM’s rich design history as he has called upon IBM to renew its commitment to design today.  History is prelude.

In another “journey” style session I attended, by Barclays, Mike Gamble gave a great rendition of their BPM journey.  First of all, they’re tackling processes you normally don’t think of as volume processes – like Bereavement. But on the order of 120,000 customers pass away each year, and that needs to trigger a set of processes and changes at Barclays that have sensitivity to that event:  everything from not sending insensitive marketing literature, to making sure that funds are available, next of kin notified, etc.  Prior to BPM, this was a process that could take days or weeks, and was error prone.  Now it happens in seconds with automation: more control and reduced risk.

Bullet point take-aways from his session:

  • Customer journeys, not processes (in other words, focusing on the customer’s perspective, or “voice of the customer” in Six Sigma speak)
  • Best solutions are driven by customers/colleagues
  • Culture needs to be right first
  • Support an agile approach with BPM
  • Remove the Bad, automate the Good (I would add a corollary to this: humanize the Best)

 More to come!