Getting Started in BPM

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While there is no one right way to get started in BPM, there are some guidelines that will make your life a lot easier. It should be remembered that getting started in BPM will be based on a belief in process oriented operational improvement and your ability to sell BPM to your management.

Although BPM may well become a strategic initiative in your company, the simple fact is that it is unlikely that many BPM efforts will get started at the enterprise level with formal strategies and aggressive adoption plans.

While there is no one right way to get started in BPM, there are some guidelines that will make your life a lot easier. It should be remembered that getting started in BPM will be based on a belief in process oriented operational improvement and your ability to sell BPM to your management.

Although BPM may well become a strategic initiative in your company, the simple fact is that it is unlikely that many BPM efforts will get started at the enterprise level with formal strategies and aggressive adoption plans. The reason is that BPM has not yet reached the enterprise level radar screen in most companies. But, BPM has gained enough recognition to warrant almost everyone’s attention and curiosity is high among both business and IT managers.

The starting point in any new type of effort is to find a sponsor within IT and within the operational users’ community. Experience has shown that the involvement and backing of both managers will be needed to move forward – neither alone will usually be enough today. Find a progressive operational or IT manager who has a serious problem that must be corrected. Then use your understanding of BPM to design a solution that can be sold to these managers.

These executive managers will need to sponsor the “BPM trial” and their involvement is critical. They will also control the funding side of the issue. But, this involvement will be limited to approval and probably tracking the initial test, so it will not require a significant time investment on their part.

There will be a lack of experience with BPM and a lack of company standards for these projects. As with any new tools, the team will have a learning curve and one can predict that mistakes will be made. Shoot for modest results. This will give you some leeway in looking at problems. It will also allow management to feel more comfortable with the effort.

So, finding and selecting the right project to start with is important. The ideal project to look for is one that is low visibility and high impact. The trade-off should be to moderate levels in both categories.

At this point, it would be appropriate to look at the BPM tools you would like to try. The place to start your tool selection is to determine how you want to manage process and what capabilities are important. I suggest you put ease of use at the top of the list. In addition, different vendor’s tools have different strengths. Some are stronger in EAI, some in monitoring, and some in process application engineering. Determine what will be most important to your company. At this point call Gartner or Forrester and ask for their list of top vendors and the strengths and weaknesses of both. This list can be compared to your list of required tool characteristics. The next step would be to present a small case to the vendors and work with them to reach a full solution. Going through a quick real live example will tell more than any fully paper-based review. In addition, it may be worthwhile to contact each business unit and IT manager in each location in the company and ask if they use BPM tools.

If BPM tools are in use, you will need to consider a strategy to move to a common BPM tool vendor. Also, interview anyone who is currently using a BPM product and ask for their review of the tools they are using. This should help narrow the field and focus capability requirements onto the areas that are most important in your company.

As you plan the project, start the process of modifying your project management methods and your standards to fit BPM techniques and activities.

To move forward at this point, you will simply need to start the project. All problems, observations, issues, triumphs, and setbacks should be logged and discussed. Notes for the future users and construction staff should be formalized and prepared for distribution. But, the project is now working with technology that is focused on evolution and not on a need to get it right the first time. So, don’t labor at trying to be perfect on the first try. Focus on providing a 70% solution – address 70% of the needs quickly. The remaining 30% will be picked up in the evolution as issues and needs are addressed in the continuing evolution of the business unit. This will test both the ability of the tools to move quickly and to support fast evolution.

Benchmark the old and the new and put performance and operational workflow monitoring in place. This will be critical in proving cost reduction and promoting BPM based solutions.

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