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Best Practices

Top Reasons Business Process Management (BPM) Initiatives Fail

bpm-fail-1

Business Process Management (BPM) initiatives are susceptible to failure, rarely due to lack of effort or intent, but rather because it can feel akin to herding cats; a futile attempt to control or organize a class of entities which are inherently uncontrollable. This doesn’t warrant a complete collapse of BPM goals — business will continue, to some extent, with or without processes improvements — but rather, it calls for a critical look at the main reasons why BPM initiatives fail.

1) Thinking BPM is all about technology

Process Mining Software is an essential part of BPM, but business processes go well beyond technology and automation. Technology is the blanket that aids process improvement, while people and processes are the bed itself. BPM automation can fail if the technology is used as an band-aid before deeply understanding the wound and performing triage.

To be clear, we are that technology. However, here’s the thing, Minit isn’t just a plug ‘n’ play solution, and putting this statement forward at the get-go is critical to understanding why BPM initiatives fail. Accounting for humans, manual processes and, generally speaking — reality — are critical factors to making any BPM projects succeed long term.

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2) Focus on problems, not on the value 

Transformation projects often come about in one of three ways: your company wants to jump on the bandwagon (our competitors are doing it / appears to be an industry trend), a problem needs to be solved (bottleneck / dissatisfied customers) or to find cost savings and profit opportunities. All ‘starter causes’ don’t imply failure themselves, but will fall flat if left at this shallow level. When it’s all said and done, management must be able to clearly point to the value, financial and otherwise, that BPM automation has generated for the business.

Regardless of project type or scope, adopt the mentality that an investment in technology and time must deliver value back to the business. Define ROI goals early on, not just in terms of hard numbers, but with value in mind. Understand what success looks like and be able to articulate that vision.

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3) Information gathering process is flawed

Traditionally, the information gathering process for BPM improvement was a manual, human-to-human process of interviews. A team of consultants would spend a great deal of time interviewing stakeholders to gather data about the way things work. This approach often results in flawed information due to a number of reasons: human perspective is subjective, each person has a limited view of the picture, exceptions can be amplified or excluded, and some processes are invisible.

Ever heard of the squeaky wheel that got the oil? That’s the most articulate team member getting undue attention or the process anomaly being given unfair weight. Process mining software helps avoid this pitfall by shifting focus towards mappable footprints and away from subjectivity.

4) Functional silos are reinforced

BPM seeks to align departments and cut out the invisible white space that can damage business performance. However, sometimes BPM can unintentionally deepen the fracture and further silo teams. Once ERP systems or other solutions software is deployed, employees may feel a heavy reliance on the system; “if the system didn’t say so, it’s not my job.” Employees may be prone to pigeon-hole their role and devalue the benefits of communication amongst departments.

5) BPM and integration are viewed as separate projects

IT and Operations have vastly different functions; Operations looks to optimize a process, while IT looks to maintain security and integrity of said process. Business Process Management is nothing without integration and requires the two to be viewed as a single project or two sides of one coin; inseparable.

If BPM software lacks sufficient integration capabilities or cannot support the range of cloud, on-premise and hybrid integration environments the transformation project will not succeed. Treating integration as an afterthought means isolating teams and creating black holes along the process improvement journey. 

6) Poor change management

Just as integration can’t be left by the wayside, neither can the heavy burden of change. From complete department overhauls to the subtle differences between the old ways of working and the new, change must be addressed head-on and continuously revisited. Failing to address the real concerns on a micro and macro level of those affected by process improvements may cause anticipated cost savings to stop in their tracks. The overall work will be the same, but process parts that made up the whole will have been sucked into an ERP or automated system. Day to day execution will be completely different.

To prepare for the inevitable, the world-class change methodology, “ADKAR” is a good place to start. Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement. This process of change management will need to be regularly monitored, evaluated and as the last step indicates, revisited.

7) Accountability isn’t anchored at the top level and appropriately distributed

Senior managers must be held accountable for driving business processes improvement and behaving as the anchor for an ever swaying ship. BPM projects require buy-in from everyone involved (read: everyone), but accountability should vary based on seniority. If top executives aren’t held accountable for project results, and floor workers aren’t made aware of their distributed accountability, the project may reach “completion” only to fall on its first step out the door.

Identify appropriate levels of ownership throughout the business hierarchy and ensure the top level is ultimately accountable for any large transformation effort.

Awareness of shortcomings can lead to success

BPM is never static, process blueprints hardly translate with perfection from one enterprise to another, and it involves multiple, emotionally charged stakeholders. BPM automation isn’t an overnight project, but recognizing common shortcomings can help in avoiding them.

Minit is process mining software that automatically maps and analyzes your operations flow. Our team understands that technology is only part of the process, and that’s why Minit offers full scope process improvement projects. Read more about our solution and request a free trial from our knowledgeable team.

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Michal Rosik

08. 06. 2018