Barriers to Effective BPM

  • January 10, 2013
  • Scott

I like Chris Taylor’s post on barriers to effective BPM. He lists three of the key problems for BPM initiatives, and it reminded me of some of the issues customers have often confronted in adopting BPM.

The first problem he points out:

This question encompasses two problems, 1) not having a central owner to a BPM initiative, and, 2) having many peer owners of a BPM initiative.  Without central authority to create awareness, decide on scope, standards, skills, technology and where to start, initiatives move forward very slowly.  In the multi-owner environment, gaining sign offs becomes a tedious exercise that saps energy from the initiative.

The multiple-sign-off issue is the bus-brake effect.  You can’t get decisions made easily because too many different people can stop the bus for any reason. Chris proposes a single decision-maker as the solution – which is good. But that decision-maker has to be willing to lead.  Good leadership can take you through the consensus-building phase if you don’t have a single decision-maker.  Good leadership makes the decision-maker more effective.

The second problem he labels “Where to Begin?” but I’ve always thought of as “filling in the white space”.  Imagine looking at that clean white board – how do I fill it in and make it reflect my process and vision for that process?  A common issue for a team that has been to training and been spun up to solve a problem – but then is faced with actually defining it. There are lots of ways to mitigate this – like defining the budget first (and small) to help people limit themselves.  Chris suggests picking a framework to help you think through it.

Finally, he asks what technology should be plugged in.  His answer reflects that his question wasn’t what I thought.  He focuses on keeping information in an evergreen repository – not something that has to be dusted off (from paper or someone’s hard drive) every so often before continuing on the process improvement journey.  I would have thought he’d be focusing on which technologies need to be integrated to make a process initiative successful (which of course varies from project to project).

Typically our approach to this is to reduce technology integration to the bare minimum to get the process operational end-to-end.  Then, and only then, bring technology back into the process to achieve efficiencies and accuracy improvements.  When you know you have your process right, you’ll know your technology integration investments are money well spent.


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  • Flournoy Henry

    I particularly like your last statement Scott. All too often, process initiatives get bogged down at best and totally derailed at worst due to an ineffective focus on technical “issues”. It seems all BPM initiatives start out in the right direction: an organization needs better visibility and greater agility on the processes that make their business run. But when it comes to the implementation of said initiative… traditional IT thought tends to prevail and things are already veering of course. Only when we keep the process in focus and reduce the technical priorities do we head towards process success.