Barriers to BPM: Sophomore Effect

Scott Francis
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BarrierstoBPM[First in a series on the Barriers to BPM, sharing our stories from the field and remedies]

So your first project was a success. Your team toughed it out, and overcame all the challenges to get that first deployment live in production.  We’re not discounting those challenges – whether it is alignment or consulting partners or budget or skills.  But you got that first project delivered.

That’s when the Sophomore Effect kicks in. You’re ready to take on the next project, as well as version 2 of the process application you just delivered to production.  But now that you’re in production your team is being pulled in different directions. First, there’s the maintenance problem:

  • The team is getting pulled into production support and maintenance rather than working on new processes that unlock new business value.  But they’re not really experts in maintaining BPM systems and server administration and tuning.

Now you’re in trouble.  The distractions of managing a production system never seem to transition to your normal application support team – and those distractions are keeping you from meeting your objectives in project #2.  Missing those deadlines and objectives is costing you credibility and costing your BPM efforts your initial momentum.  Stall speed is a dangerous risk.

This is precisely the problem that BP Labs is designed to address.

Next, there’s the risk that results from the choice of your first project: picking something unimportant.  If you picked something without any risk, and therefore, without any impact, you’ll lose the interest and attention of your business sponsors.  They want to invest in processes that move the needle.  If the first process doesn’t, they’ll focus on other things. Remember: the most precious thing your Fortune 500 company has is focus – not money, nor time – but focus.  You’ve got to put your energy into processes that have value.

Finally, there’s the business as usual problem:  the team that was supposed to learn BPM and form the core of your Center of Excellence (COE) is now being reassigned to the day-to-day business, unless you line up the budget to keep them together. Each project ends up being the producing of a new movie, essentially, with a new cast.  The actors are mostly new, and you don’t get the organizational learning benefits you were expecting from the first project.

What are the remedies?

There has to be a way to mitigate the sophomore effect, right?  Sure enough…

  1. Sign up for BP Labs to protect your team from administration and production headaches.  This is exactly what we designed BP Labs to do – to allow the process teams to, well, focus on process.
  2. Pick an important process effort to focus on. Core processes. We can help you find and define these processes but the main lesson is, pick something important to your business.
  3. Plan for more than one release in your budget. Go-live should not happen a few weeks before (or after) you run out of budget. Go live should happen first at about the halfway point in your budget if at all possible.

One of the ways our customers have avoided the sophomore effect, not listed above, is to take advantage of BP3’s services team.  We augment your team or deliver the projects, and we have experience avoiding the major landmines described above.  I don’t know if we’ve ever had a customer give up after their first project, because we can help our customers steer through these pitfalls if they’re aren’t already doing so.

 

 

 

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  • Jacob Edelman

    Thanks for making the blog mobile friendly :)

    • Jacob-
      thanks for noticing ;) It had been on the bucket list for a long time – ironically it was mobile friendly back in 2008/9, but when we did a refresh in 2011 or so, we lost the responsive template in the process. Happy to have it back!