Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Your BPM Mantra: Enable, Empower, Improve, Unlock

BPM should be about exercising and asserting your firms business priorities, along its lines of control, especially lines at the top and the bottom.

Sure, you’ve heard it before that BPM is about the business. But indulge me for a bit.
Let‘s say the CIO of a manufacturing company A buys product X because it can help optimize inventory and reduce costs. He gets the software implemented and X nicely fixes not just that bloated inventory but also that big headache he’s had for months.

What‘s more, Marketing is happy because they could reduce product price a little bit, and therefore so is the customer, and, despite the price drop, a slight improvement in the margin makes Finance happy too. Meanwhile, Purchase and Production are happy, and well, there are smiles all around and all that. You get the picture.

Now, what if B, a competitor of A, decides to also buy for much the same reasons?  We now have two competing firms, both depending on product X to address inventory issues. Will happy smiles appear on faces in firm B? Will folks at A continue smiling and nodding at each other?
How will it affect their relative advantages? Their differentiators?

Here are two different ways of looking at it –
(i) Product X minimizes the relative competitive advantage between and B, bringing them both on the same level playing field. They will each have to think of other ways to get one up on the other.
(ii) Product X has the potential to sharpen their competitive advantages by highlighting each of their more unique differentiating areas.
Which one would be your pick?

If you pick (i), you are saying there can be no competitive advantage from IT as IT eliminates differences between how organizations function as IT becomes more commoditized, the value from IT would also diminish.

On the other hand, If you pick (ii), you are saying IT can be used as a weapon to find competitive advantages that complement your core competencies.

Product X in our story, as you might have already guessed, would typically be a packaged application promising ‘industry best practices – acquired from consolidating experience from thousands of implementations’. So, consider this – if both and B apply the same best practices, would they truly get competitive? Or would those common best practices merely help them stay on equal footing?

And so to our firms and B, the situation they find themselves in is not very unusual. As I had written in my earlier post,
…these are situations that our technology consuming customers continuously battle – most top market players have access to similar technologies, products and service providers; similar investments and budgets.…. Therefore, where is the competitive advantage from IT investments? The point I am trying to highlight, or rather reiterate, is that, this is precisely where the power of BPM lies. BPM can give you the wherewithal to deal with such situations –  In unlocking competitive advantage from areas in your business where packaged applications are, by and large, ill-equipped to address, In making a substantial difference to your bottom-line, and/or your top-line.

There have been several discussions, on how BPM is different from conventional packaged application implementation/application development. The idea of IT-Business collaboration, business benefits of BPM, building a business case, etc. have been discussed in ample measure. Some of the best minds in the industry have tried to impress upon these critical success factors in BPM.

Yet, there still are many who under-utilize BPM. In my experience, these are really areas where many firms miss the bus when it comes to delivering BPMS that truly delivers. Treating BPMS implementations like conventional IT projects is a common first big mistake.

And on the point of looking beyond operational efficiency, Most of what people think about regarding BPM benefits comes down to efficiency savings, and this can be a big part of the story. But even in the operational realm, there may be benefits that go beyond efficiency. One is increased scalability through smarter (re)allocation of resources. Another is improved customer satisfaction (which although it can be difficult to directly ascribe a monetary value to, should drive sales over time if sales and marketing teams are doing their jobs – and will often help protect revenue by reducing customer churn). Apart from the operational realm, benefits can come from increased business flexibility, quicker introduction of new products or product bundles, and stronger competitive differentiation.

Think ‘Enable, Empower, Improve, Unlock’. These are words that should be top-of-mind when we are designing BPM to deliver its promise. As we move on every year real benefits from BPM come under the spotlight – as it is bound to, it assumes more importance.

Thank you for reading! And please feel free to comment!

All information presented here is © copyright Carkean Solutions Ltd., 2010 - Not to be used without our permission - The views expressed here are the views of an individual not the corporation

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Are You Letting Good get in the way of Better?

To me, if there is only one striking difference between a BPM solution and a conventionally developed application, then it is the opportunity to unlock hidden potential for improvements.

Many organizations at the crossroads of a decision do overlook this aspect and decide against BPM. I have come across a few in the past. Reasons, however, maybe attributed to high license costs or other such considerations. Of course, while this may well be true, the question I often ask myself is if they did see and consider the full potential of benefits from a BPM solution before deciding against it.
And if indeed they did, why did they still decide not to invest in BPM? Did they calculate ROI? If so, how did they calculate it? What were their considerations? Why would they rather invest in either building the application grounds-up or, in a packaged application when in all likelihood neither can provide several of the additional benefits possible from a BPM solution?

For sure, there must be ample wisdom supporting their decisions. Apparently their final authorities did agree it was a good decision before they signed on the dotted line.

So, why would they let Good come in the way of Better?

Today we have survey findings from organizations that have decided in favor of BPM – many analyst firms have done some research in that area. But I am not sure if anyone has researched organizations that have decided against investing in BPM. Their reasons could be very interesting in many levels.
Did they make the right decision? Or have they only held-off jumping into the BPM wagon for the moment? Have they considered a logic that others have not? Do they think they are too small for BPM? Or is it more of a contextual thing – of BPM just not fitting into their particular context?
What is your take? What has been your experience in this aspect?

From my experience with organizations that have decided against BPM I could hazard one generalization – you tell me if I am way off mark here – that organizations where IT has a strong influence in the decision making may look less favorably at BPM.

I also think it has less to do with IT participation itself or with their influence (negative or not) in the decision but more to do with the lack of intense business participation, active involvement and drive.

What do you think? What could be other reasons?

Thank you for reading! and please feel free to leave a comment!

All information presented here is © copyright Carkean Solutions Ltd., 2010 - Not to be used without our permission - The views expressed here are the views of an individual not the corporation

Monday, 25 July 2011

BPM and Change Management – Time to Tie The Knot

Call it culture, resistance to change, fear, politics or just old fashioned pig-headedness, but BPM initiatives are seldom without change issues and internal friction of some kind. And as we see BPM adoption increasing, there is increasing proof of the existence of such a thing called BPM Inertia. And it compromises the degree of BPM success.

It seems to me that almost any firm running a BPM initiative acknowledges the need for change management at the beginning, but not all of them actually take the effort to address it directly and methodically as the initiative rolls forward.

Here is a truth pill you must take: change issues threaten BPM success much more than you ever cared to admit. If you really want to tackle every force adversely affecting your BPM success, you need to stand up and look at that BPM Inertia in the eye.

Vendors and System Integrators will offload slide after slide of wisdom, frameworks and methodologies as you prepare your approach to tackle the change demon. All good and necessary, but don’t get swayed –  it’s all only like a recipe. You still need to figure out how much salt & spice works best for your family; what shade of rare, medium or well-done the meat should be, by considering each unique preference of those about to gather at the table.

The avatar that change issues might take is different in each organization. It could be a manifestation of one or more factors, those that may not be directly related to BPM or even Biz/IT. Not all of those will be evil, negative or wilful. They could simply stem from a lack of appreciation, or awareness of the nature of change or its benefits.

So an important ingredient that goes into the creation of a Change Management program is deep insight into organization culture, people, and a sense of understanding of cause and effect, all coming from a great position of strength that of firsthand experience from being part of it and acquired from being one of ‘them’.

Your vendor may have great experience and track-record of successes in running a change management program, but let someone from within, that knows the pulse of your organization be an influential, driving member of that program.  At the same time exploit the fresh, detached perspective that your vendor/SI brings in.

One key pivot that I am increasingly beginning to believe Change Management success hinges on is when everyone involved is aware and truly believes that  the ‘change’ can improve their daily work life, and can indeed help them work smarter, easier and better.

In the end though, the crucial ingredient to leading a successful change management program is to address the cause, not the symptom.

Thank you for reading! and please feel free to leave a comment!

All information presented here is © copyright Carkean Solutions Ltd., 2010 - Not to be used without our permission - The views expressed here are the views of an individual not the corporation

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Aquima: Like No Other

While most BPM software possesses similar qualities, we here at Aquima are proud to differentiate ourselves as leaders in innovative ways in realising the most practical solutions that would yield short and long term benefits to our client. 

Aquima is not an ‘off the shelf’ solution but a bespoke system which can be tailored to your needs and can be developed to combat the problems you encounter most frequently.

The software is designed to empower a business oriented person to design the entire system and tailor it to meet their individual requirements by specifications rather than programming. This feature is our strongest USP due to the fact that even our closest competitors are unable to provide a package that can match these features. As most of the BPM software requires a programmer to design the software process a very complicated process requiring an advanced coding knowledge. A very common issue that an organisation faces is the breakdown in communication between the IT specialist and the business oriented person leading to time consuming alterations that can be very costly but may still to prove ineffective. Giving the power to the client to design their software can open the door for innovative and practical solutions that can never be realised by an IT specialist. 

Business Intelligence
Artificial intelligence is one of these revolutionary changes as it has allowed computers and software to think for itself. Not to the levels of functional intelligent machines, sentient beings or some such, but to the level where a system can work out some problems by itself without user input. This can be likened to many of the newer features of the Windows and Mac OS operating systems which provide many tasks without the user specifying. They “just happen” and the systems take care of the rest.

So where does all this lead? Back to Aquima!

As these are things, two very important things, that Aquima incorporates which gives it the revolutionary edge over the competition. Artificial intelligence powers the system while cloud computing gives it the accessibility- together they provide a unique system which requires no extra components. Thanks to it being platform-independent and useful on so many devices there’s no need to upgrade hardware, buy extras or to spend needlessly on new components.

Everything that Aquima can do it does straight out of the box and with exceptional results thanks to technological innovation. And, of course, a need to provide a BPM package that is more technology than marketing. Something that is universally useful to all organisations. But without the feeling that you’re getting a half-baked cookie cutter system which tries to force you in a preset profile or system.

Most organisations are expanding, whether into different fields or by vertical and horizontal integration, this means that data will need to be re-entered or shared, while it is virtually impossible to share the data effectively using the common BPM software it is simply a click away when using Aquima. For example, if a bank is using CrediCube (Aquima's risk management program) to score their customers and the bank expanded its business into the insurance industry using CLAIM-IT (Aquima's insurance program) the data can be easily transferred saving time, money and possible mistakes when re-entering the data.

Whereas most of the BPM programs in the market are concerned with defining and arranging process on an abstract level Aquima covers every aspect of the modelling process meaning that we have an executable process. What this means to a business is that you are able to model the entire business process this point is truly significant in determining the future position of the company and how it can proceed to achieve its objectives.

Aquima has been described as the most dynamic BPM and at least 7 years ahead of its time by one of the most respected information technology research organisations (the Gartner Group). Due to the features offered by this package, the remarkable flexibility that gives the users limitless potential on improving every aspect of the business and the speed that is unheard of in the world of BPM packaging. Flexibility is one of the main issues contributing towards major companies going out of business, many organisations simply can't react to the rapid change in the market, and, thereby, are providing products and services that are no longer in need. Aquima's agile package gives a business the ability to react to change in real time giving the firm a competitive edge.

One of the most practical and unsung features of the Aquima software is cloud computing. This feature allows the user to access data from anywhere in the world, thereby eliminating the need to worry about transporting your data physically from office to office risking the data being lost or stolen. Another advantage is that data can be amended and updated easily by anyone authorised to do so at any given time enabling the firm to have relevant and up to date data at all times, giving the company the platform to make informed decisions.

The Aquima system has many more features that are of great benefit to companies operating in the petroleum industry that would be discussed in detail at a later time. 

Thank you for reading! And please feel free to leave a comment!

All information presented here is © copyright Carkean Solutions Ltd., 2010 - Not to be used without our permission - The views expressed here are the views of an individual not the corporation

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Social BPM Requires Balance and Flexibility

The problem with IT folks defining the next generation of the BPM discipline is that IT folks come with technology and architectures biases. The process folks want to process model the world, data and content folks want all the data and states predefined, the rules folks want to define all the logic ahead of time and the events folks want to look for events they deem interesting beforehand. The application math formulas to static data by the business intelligence folks require a fragile environment. What’s wrong with this picture? None of these approaches are balanced and none are flexible by nature.

Social BPM will require a flexible and integrated approach to these four facets. Dynamic BPM technology is the process answer to the next generation of BPM but that’s not good enough alone. Adjustable content management is the content/data answer to the next generation of BPM, but that’s not good enough alone. Boundary constraints is the policy/rule answer to the next generation of BPM, but that’s not good enough alone. Complex events management is the event answer to the next generation of BPM, but that’s not good enough alone. Real time BI that leverages in-flight data is the BI answer, but that is not good enough alone. Are you catching a pattern here? Flexing each individual approach is good but falls short of the goal.

The intelligent application of all of these approaches will be necessary going forward. Biases will have to be left at the door and the intelligent inclusion of all of these aspects to tie human and machine interaction in the next generation of BPM technologies and disciplines will be the way of the future.

Thank You for reading! And please feel free to leave a comment!

All information presented here is © copyright Carkean Solutions Ltd., 2010 - Not to be used without our permission - The views expressed here are the views of an individual not the corporation

Monday, 18 July 2011

The Technologies to watch in BPM

There are two technologies I’d advice watching, as we enter the second half of 2011: Enterprise Streams and Mobile

Enterprise Streams
One of the annoying technical issues BPMS tools need to negotiate with – is Outlook. It’s the rugby player in the middle of the field that we are all trying to avoid, tiptoe around quietly. Most BPMS solutions use emails to deliver tasks. Most organisations use Outlook. Even if there is a tasklist portal, Outlook will still be used.

Outlook is not a technical friendly partner for integration. Yes, you can create an Outlook Add-on, but most organisations will not allow users to download add-ons and change security settings. (And I’m not even talking about those companies that reset security permissions every night) And yes, you can start embedding fancy client side tools, but if you need to deploy them to an organisation with 15,000 users – it’s a nightmare. Different versions, different languages, different browsers… I’m not saying that its not doable… I’m just saying that Outlook is not an integration friendly application.

The new era of social tools like Twitter, Google+ and Facebook are changing the communications landscape. Users desire same level of innovation and functionality from their business applications as they get from their home applications. Outlook will not disappear, but will be used less. (Mobile phones did not kill handsets) The idea of using Twitter-like tools inside the organisation is gaining momentum. There are already two BPM vendors that have Enterprise Steam offerings. It’s just a matter of time till more vendors jump on the wagon.

But the competition isn’t between the BPM vendors. The biggest competitor is Google. Google will (one day) offer a great Twitter-like tool for businesses to bypass Outlook. The three functionalities that Enterprise Streams need to have, in order not to be ‘obliviated’ one day by Google are: Workflows, Integration and BI. These will be the three key differentiators between any future Google “Twitter-for-Business” offering and a BPM Enterprise Stream solution.

Don’t think of Mobile BPM as just another way of interacting with the system through a small screen. Think about the things that make your mobile phone different than your laptop.

You talk on your mobile, email, sms and communicate in ways your laptop doesn’t. You take pictures using your mobile. Mobile devices know where you are. Your laptop doesn’t. You never go anywhere without your mobile. Mobile also includes smartphones, tablets, IPods.. the future of communication.
Most BPM vendors “support” mobile. “Support” means that they can send emails to mobile devices. Luckily for them, most organisations are not at the stage where mobile functionality is a deal breaker. It’s more of a “bells and whistles” gizmo for the demos.

From a technical point of view – Any BPM mobile solution needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. We have not reached “the promised land” yet. Every mobile device has its own operating system, its own programming language, even different versions of the same device. Trying to make one BPM mobile application that would fit all mobile devices, all versions, in an mobile industry that hasn’t yet been able to agree on one communication standard – is not (yet) possible.

And anyone that tells you that you don’t need a client application – “you just approve from email links on your mobile” is blowing smoke. If you can’t authenticate the mobile device (see reasons above) then you are using anonymous authentication to enter the BPM system from outside of the company. You don’t need to be an Einstein to understand that this opens the system to abuse. Most BPM systems are secure closed systems, accessible only from inside the company’s domain. If I can click on a link from the mobile and bypass your security, I can also hack my way into your system, expose information or bring it down.

That said, mobile technology is progressing, it won’t be too long till they come up with an industry standard and solve security problems. And any BPM mobile solution offering will enjoy the “fruit” of any future feature that the mobile industry comes up with.

Thank You for reading! And Please feel free to comment!

All information presented here is © copyright Carkean Solutions Ltd., 2010 - Not to be used without our permission - The views expressed here are the views of an individual not the corporation

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Understanding the need for BPM

We are living in interesting times. In the blink of an eye old orders are swept away (you remember Lehman Brothers, don’t you?). Companies everywhere are being forced to improve the way they do business in order to survive and to flourish.  Managers are trying to make their organisations fitter and smarter.  All these changes need to be implemented at a rapid pace and with limited budgets. But how?

Well, the first step is to understand your business better.  It’s not enough to know what your business does (let’s call this strategy), it is just as important to know how your business does it (let’s call that tactics). How are new products launched? How do new customers sign on? How is corporate travel approved?

The second is taking this understanding and using it to identify the business’ strengths and weaknesses. The third step is to find the quickest and smartest way to first fix when it’s broken and improve when it’s not optimised. Too often, in implementing a solution (particularly software) companies find that “solution” just becomes another problem – implementation takes longer than planned, costs more than expected and generally doesn’t live up to its hopes. Today, you need to be able to rely on getting the job done right and on time.

If all of this sounds familiar, you’ll immediately understand why our Aquima business process management suite is so critical to companies. It’s because Aquima let’s managers make changes to their business fast. Aquima helps managers make the bold changes necessary to turn the current challenges to their benefit – by making their businesses stronger, fitter and smarter, as Albert Einstein said “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." So rise to the challenge and embrace the need for change.

Carkean solutions employ a very pragmatic approach. We simplify the project complexity associated with BPM implementations by focusing on four key principles:

  • 1. Identify a Business Problem: one that will deliver a big benefit to the business.
  • 2. Prove the Value: creating a business case to demonstrate a measurable ROI.
  • 3. Implement Fast: A focused business requirement, an iterative design and build approach combined with the feature rich capabilities of the Aquima Platform makes it possible to deploy solutions quickly.
  • 4. Extend Further: Having implemented the first process successfully and in a short time, it easy to measure the business value of Aquima.
The foundations are not there for further incremental releases of the same process and/or the introduction of new business processes. Adopting this approach ensures business managers and stakeholders can identify, prioritize and deliver automated business processes that deliver measurable business value on an ongoing basis while mitigating risks and delays.

We Do It Differently
Unfortunately, many organisations experience frustration and even failure when trying to implement software solutions. Problems often start with missed deadlines, perhaps because the implementation team did not fully understand all of the activities and steps required. Delays lead to cost overruns, and soon the organisation is forced to take shortcuts and scale back its solution to avoid further expenses. Moreover, once the original deadline is missed, organisations often must adapt the implementation to new business developments and strategies, thus spurring an endless cycle of change and delay.
Using the Aquima Platform, organisations can achieve savings and efficiencies that streamline and automate business activities.

Thank you for reading! And please feel free to comment! 

All information presented here is © copyright Carkean Solutions Ltd., 2010 - Not to be used without our permission - The views expressed here are the views of an individual not the corporation

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Top 5 Myths about BPM

Business Process Management (BPM), one of the fastest growing software markets, offers effective organisational software solutions for improving business processes, increasing efficiency, and complying with regulation. Like all new technologies, there are sometimes confusion and misconceptions regarding business process management.  Here are 5 myths and misconceptions about BPM’

Myth #1 - BPM is workflow
Wrong. Although BPM started out as a workflow engine methodology for running business processes - it has now evolved into a full life-cycle that includes modelling, process execution, process monitoring and reporting, process simulation and process optimisation. Today, every BPM tool must include modelling, execution, monitoring and optimisation capabilities.

Myth #2 - BPM is only for complex processes
Wrong. Some of the most important organisational business processes are short and simple processes (example: credit approval, document approval..) BPM brings significant impact by enabling managers to make quicker, better and more-informed decisions. BPM enables business stakeholders to have more visibility over their business processes and foresee future problems using trend analysis, improve organisational efficiency, minimize risks, enforce organisational policies and reduce internal process complexity.

Myth #3 - BPM is only for programmers
Wrong. The better BPM tools do not need programmers or the IT department to create workflows. These tool are rule-based enabling business users to create workflows by themselves (drag n'drop). This enables business users to create their own workflows based on real business needs. IT is only involved in integrating into external systems, and even they will be rule based instead of coding.

Myth #4 - BPM is expensive
Wrong. BPM tools no longer require large investments in infrastructure. All you need is a Windows 2003 server and a SQL server 2005 database installed. BPM software is usually priced per user, per company or per process.  BPM software can also be "rented" thus saving money on maintenance and IT staff.  BPM enables organisations to cut costs and reduce the number of employees (or enable them to work more efficiently) by automating their business processes.

Myth #5 - BPM projects are long term projects
Wrong. Most BPM projects go live in less than 45 days. By using the web-based and workflow designers (instead of programming tools like Visual Studio) organisations get processes up and running fast. Designing the workflow takes up to a week. Creating the workflow takes up to two weeks. Deployment and final touches take an extra few days. The hardest part of the BPM project is actually getting all the requirements (to prevent re-work) and ensuring that they solve the business pain.

Aquima is a rule based business process management (BPM) suite for automating dynamic applications and processes.
 With Aquima, applications are modelled rather than programmed, allowing business specialists to actively participate in the design and development of applications. By reducing the traditional “business / IT” gap, organisations can use Aquima to gain competitive advantage by automating processes that change frequently. Aquima facilitates agile application development, which in turn allows systems to be quickly modified and adapted to changing market conditions. Your business, your rules.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to leave a comment!

All information presented here is © copyright Carkean Solutions Ltd., 2010 - Not to be used without our permission - The views expressed here are the views of an individual not the corporation

Monday, 11 July 2011

Top 5 BPM Impacts for Future

Here is my list of the Top 5 for the next ten years:

1. BPM will Continue to Deliver Savings:
BPM, with very little investment, can deliver savings. It matters little if you start with modeling or measurement, but the savings are usually there. It seems the more you invest, the more you get with the right guidance and skill sets. Many organizations have been successful with BPM and I expect more of the same.

2. BPM will Appeal to New Audiences:
As leading organizations show the benefits flow from BPM, more organizations are attracted to BPM. With the advent of BPM in the cloud,  the popularity of Visio and/or SharePoint, the popularity of jump start templates on popular/leading BPM providers, open source-like BPM providers and the promotion of BPM by power vendors, BPM is attracting new audiences. Medium to small businesses are starting to kick the tires of BPM. 

3. BPM will Deliver Better Workforce Management
With the advent process intelligence that give visual and descriptive analytics and the inclusion of proven analytics providing advice via prescriptive analytics, one can expect BPM to help leverage and extend our businesses workforce. I expect BPM to reach to knowledge workers and outside the traditional boundaries of companies into value chains.

4. BPM will Deliver High Quality Processes
Because of the visibility and the culture of process improvement  that BPM brings, the expectation that process will be used to improve quality is a realistic expectation. BPM combined with process intelligence can be used to move from best practices of today to the evolving best practices of tomorrow. Because of the dynamic features of many BPM technologies, real time governance and improvement are possible.

5. BPM Will Help With New Business Innovation
Businesses are finding new ways to leverage dynamic and adaptable processes that can shift to meet changing needs and demands while staying profitable. Some organizations are using BPM to assist their public image in the collective and/or with their constituents including customers. I really look forward to watch this emerge going forward.

BPM is about to kick into a new phase this coming decade and I feel privileged to have a front row seat. What are your thoughts now that I have shared mine?

Thank you for reading! and please feel free to leave a comment!

All information presented here is © copyright Carkean Solutions Ltd., 2010 - Not to be used without our permission - The views expressed here are the views of an individual not the corporation

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Wax On, Wax Off

Today I want to talk about the unnecessary focus of process people on – well – process. I guess in many ways: people would be more flexible and effective if they could chart their own route towards creating results, not inhibited by fixed process definitions. Then again, there might be some areas where it is necessary to get a firm grip on processes first, before you can let them go. Let’s discuss a few of these instances.

You see, I truly believe that the end state of many products, topics and management theories is that they render themselves redundant. This is the essence of systematic innovation approaches. Never trust a management theory that does not have decommissioning itself as the final state, but you don’t reach an end state before going to absolutely necessary first and intermediate steps. You’ve got to master the basic before you can elevate yourself.

Let’s call this Wax On, Wax Off: you can strive to be a karate master that defeats his opponents with an unthinkable crane stance, but before you get there, there are many years of hard work and practice on the basics. We must master process basics first, before we can leave processes behind. We must at least be able to understand processes, define them, execute them, monitor them, and improve them, Over and over again. It will take considerable time to reach the maturity levels that are needed to take next steps.

How do you see this? Could it be that your perspective is a bit too advanced, already seeing the end phase but not prepared to follow the entire road? Could you be like Daniel-san, just a bit too eager to achieve the master level?

It is good to start with the basics. You can’t let go of the idea of the process, without mastering it first. But let’s apply the parallel a bit further. Why did Daniel-san in the end go through the wax-on-wax-off thing for ages? Because he had perspective, His master did show him that if he would go through the basics, one day he would indeed be able to do the crane stance. He knew why he was doing it.

This perspective is missing in the world of business process management. Sure, there are nice maturity models, but they are all written from within the paradigm. Daniel’s master knew that the purpose of learning is to learn how to unlearn as well, to know when to follow the rules and when to break them, to stand above your own discipline and reflect objectively on it. I am using the word objectively very deliberately here. If you stand above your discipline, you are detached from it and can view it as an object. If you live within your discipline, you are part of the subject.

So, back to the point, why am I arguing for letting the idea of the process go? Not because I want people to skip steps. On the contrary, the reason is that I would like to sketch perspective on why they are going through these steps and to liberate themselves.

Here we touch another point, People being free. It surprises me that the discipline of BPM is so conceptual and analytical. Where is the human approach? In his book “Drive”, Daniel Pink discusses the three things that motivate professionals: autonomy, mastery and purpose. Classical BPM doesn’t offer any of them. The process is in control, administrative professionals don’t have autonomy in transactional decision-making. Most processes don’t come much further than promising “just follow me, and everything will be alright.” For what will be alright? And for whom?

No perspective. This we need to change! And then you’ll see people will master business processes faster and better.

Thank You for Reading! and please feel free to leave a comment!

All information presented here is © copyright Carkean Solutions Ltd., 2010 - Not to be used without our permission - The views expressed here are the views of an individual not the corporation

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

The Do’s and Don’ts of BPM, Part Two: The Don’ts

Previously, we looked at the main practices of successful BPM. In addition to using those suggestions, here is a list of common mistakes to avoid whenever implementing a new BPM process.

The Don’ts of BPM

No I in Team (and be careful of the one in IT):
Planning takes everyone. No input or concern is too small. What might seem a tiny issue on the grand scheme of things on day one, could be the stone that brings down the giant on day 1,000. This is especially true for many of the IT professionals, not because of their flaws, but because often their input can be the most valuable. Many BPM processes fail on a technical level, and if the technology aspect of a modern business doesn’t work, the business itself is usually doomed.

Many companies undervalue the immense impact of their IT department, and IT professionals can often feel like disenfranchised parts of a company that operate outside of the normal strictures of the corporation. It is vital to make sure the IT department are just as integral to the testing process as everyone else. They need to be ready to flex and bend, because much of the technical success will be resting on their shoulders. They need to be prepared and the other members of the company need to be willing to shoulder some of the IT responsibility as well.

In addition, customers must be consulted. The front end of a business is where the faults that can’t be seen from within the business are. The greatest resource in BPM development is the people that are going to reap the benefits of it. While customers are going to give conflicting results, contradictory statements, and will never agree on anything, their view must be taken into account. That is the beating heart of BPM, and the greatest nightmare. Even if they cannot truly be fixed, knowing ahead of time the complaints that will arise at least gives preparation for the flood.

No one is to be excluded. Do not ever think an issue is trivial or insignificant just because it seems that way. Do not prejudge where the weight of the shift to BPM is going to fall.

Don’t sweat too many Details:
It seems contradictory to the idea that the BPM process should be beat to death before it is ready to go to say that the small stuff shouldn’t be sweated too much. It actually isn’t. The reason for this is to remember the first rule: Be flexible. In the planning stages, everything should be addressed, that is true. However, even with the best planning team on the planet, given unlimited amounts of time and resources will still not be able to predict the dozen things that are going to go wrong on the first day that the BPM system goes into effect. That is the nature of the beast.

The planning stage is important to prepare everyone for the devils they know. The company is forewarned and forearmed against those mistakes, holes, and pitfalls, but not against the ones that are yet to happen. In the machining industry there is a saying: There are those that have crashed, and those that will crash. It isn’t a matter of will something go wrong, but only a question of when.

The planning stage was to combat the true catastrophes; to guard the Achilles Heels. That was the training phase. Once the marathon begins, every stumble and misstep cannot become all-consuming. It should be handled with as much care and grace as possible. This is part of the gradual growth. These snags will happen, but when they do, patiently untie them. Do not panic, do not flail, do not gnash teeth or tear out hair. Fix it just like every issue before.

Don’t Duck and Cover
Under no circumstances can a business afford to bury its head in the sand. This is the culmination of everything else. Nothing else matters if any part of the company decides that something can remain broken. For far too long, far too many businesses did nothing about their gaps and rifts but apologize, shrug, and say “That’s just the way it is” or “That’s just how it is done.” The mantra of any business with a BPM process installed should be to grow, change, adapt, plan, develop.

A BPM business should be like the Hydra. It should proudly present its head to be cut off time and again only to rebound twice as strong and twice as adept. Hiding from problems is contrary to everything BPM stands for. Many BPM systems have fallen away because the company refused to remove the infected burr that rotted it away from the inside out; something that could have been fixed but was shuffled off by employees and administrators.

A business that uses a BPM process should be rewarding the individuals that come forward with the most questions, complaints, problems, issues, and headaches for the company instead of the person that is performing within the parameters of their job, following orders. Those that see and address the real day-to-day nightmares, those that have solutions or see potentials for streamlining should be celebrated in a BPM business, rather than those that can follow company charter and archaic, anachronistic, outmoded methodology.

BPM can potentially be the prodigal advent that begins to drive business into something far more holistic than it has been in the past, but it is not an easy road. It requires adaptability. It requires time and patience. It requires planning to the point of psychosis. It requires listening to everyone and excluding none. It requires being able to realize the problems without allowing them to disrupt the path of the company. Above all it requires being able to face the ugly truth so that those fears can be dispelled and wayward components brought back into the fold.

Thank you for reading! And please feel free to leave a comment!

All information presented here is © copyright Carkean Solutions Ltd., 2010 - Not to be used without our permission - The views expressed here are the views of an individual not the corporation

Monday, 4 July 2011

The Dos & Don’ts of BPM, Part One: The Dos

Over the years, Business Process Management (BPM) has often gotten a bad reputation as being too difficult, too costly, or too ineffective.  Many times this is due to improperly named processes being labelled as true BPM, or existing products that claim to be capable of BPM. The truth is that the success or failure of a BPM process rests more on the approach used when implementing the BPM system than on the system itself. To truly use a quality BPM much rests on the attitude of the company to align themselves fully with their customers. The following practices, when used properly can often avoid catastrophe as well as avoid wasting resources chasing BPM rainbows.

ABC: Always Be Changing
Many businesses operate from a top-down mentality, meaning that those that make the decisions in boardrooms expect their concepts to trickle down and translate into sales. The truth is that businesses work from the bottom-up with the end user being the only person in the chain of events that could tell a business where it is failing. This is because they are the ones that ultimately know the chinks in the armour. The first thing a business needs to be aware of when they start a BPM process is that they have to be ready to discard their ideas at a moment’s notice. While something might be a brilliant strategy from a corporate standpoint, if it isn’t in the best interests of the end user, it needs to hit the cutting room floor.

Many BPM processes fail at this level, partly because not everyone is on board with a total business redesign. Human beings are prideful animals, but that can make them too willing to hold on to outdated or hindering ideas. Like any growth process, instituting a BPM system is painful. Every person in the company has to be willing to keep their eyes open and to be critical of themselves. The possible rewards that can be reaped are great, but expecting a failed concept to somehow work in the future can leave a company stagnant if the business can’t adapt. Businesses have to evolve just like anything else, and if they can’t adapt, they become extinct.

Anticipate fluctuation. Like the saying goes: If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got. The natural temptation is to try to force something to work. Fight that instinct and learn to bend with the winds of change. Then, once the change has been made, be ready to change again. The tides of business are fickle and require new discoveries every day.

Gradual Implementation:
In addition to growth being a painful process, it is also a long one. BPM is a marathon, not a sprint. Too many times a BPM process is thrown into a company as if it has been handed down from on high. The change needs to occur organically. Trying to force it too rapidly will lead to a total breakdown. It could come from within the worker ranks. It could come from customer disturbance, or it could come from an underdeveloped technological implementation. Whatever it is, any BPM plan that has an “end-all, be-all” release date will also have a “dead-by” date not too long afterwards.

Everyone in the company needs to acclimate to the new face of the business. Old customers need to be introduced slowly into it. While the new customer might love the system as soon as they see it, the individuals – both in and out of the company – that have been doing the same thing for years need time to adjust. As long as the first aspect – the willingness to change – is there, then slowly the kinks will be worked out, the fat trimmed off, and the business machine will run faster and smoother than ever.  BPM doesn’t hit like a hurricane. It erodes like the tide.

Measure Twice, Cut Once:
Along with being gradual is the need to plan, plan, and then re-plan the plan. Goals need to be assessed and re-evaluated ad nauseam before they should be put into action. The ability to discard a bad plan is just as important to flexibility as being able to adjust after the process is in motion. Once a business decides to implement a BPM system, the excitement can often lead to premature implementation. It’s a fantastic new idea that the business wants to see succeed, but then the lack of planning leaves it anaemic and unable to hold up to the fiery promises.

The way to avoid this is to almost beat it to death. Every outlook must be considered. Everyone must be consulted. BPM is comprehensive, which means that every hole that every different department can find needs to be addressed ahead of time. It goes contrary to human nature, but when everyone at the corporation, from the CEO to the lowest customer service rep is sick and tired of talking about BPM, that is most often exactly when it is ready. When every avenue for failure has been exploited, exhausted, and bled of all joy, then the system is truly a pragmatic choice rather than shiny, useless bauble. Remember that the underbelly of business is not sexy.

The institution of BPM requires a very difficult mentality. An effective institution is about the attitude of the company and a willingness to challenge old ideas. This is naturally easiest for newer companies that don’t have the same rigors as well-established companies, and as such they do not have as many doctrines to break down or re-evaluate. Any business that is willing to wholly and honestly look at itself and make drastic changes from the inside out can have a very successful BPM program. Those that allow the status quo to remain can expect little change, no matter how much money is put into a good BPM process.

Thanks for reading! Be sure to stay tuned for our second part of this series — the don’ts of doing BPM tomorrow.

All information presented here is © copyright Carkean Solutions Ltd., 2010 - Not to be used without our permission - The views expressed here are the views of an individual not the corporation