The Role of Organizational Change Management in BPM and the Selection of a BPMS

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Organizational Change Management (OCM) does many things with regard to change initiatives: it raises awareness, manages impact, mitigates resistance, and helps improve adoption. And while these benefits should apply to any change initiative, it is my experience that organizations invest in OCM primarily for technology changes that they expect to have a profound impact on the way they do business. In my case, these have been modernization efforts in industries that are married to their legacy systems; not only in terms of their technology but also their business processes, their skilled resources and their culture.

I have to ask, however, why OCM is not as readily considered in the case of Business Process Management (BPM).

The case for OCM with BPM

BPM is a discipline. It is not a business process improvement initiative. It is not a business process reengineering initiative. It is a disciplined approach to bringing efficiency, effectiveness, and agility to the organization. Presumably, efficiency brings about low-cost operations and avoids lay-offs as a means of controlling cost. Effectiveness helps achieve popular results like improved customer service and satisfaction. Agility makes the organization more responsive to market changes, among other things.

Agility is what makes me think of OCM. Markets change continuously. That means, to be agile, the business must change continuously, including their business processes. So while the organization manages their changing business processes, it must also manage the changes befalling the organization itself. These change not only impact the people, processes, and technology, the organization’s capacity for change begins to erode as well.

This makes communicating and raising the awareness of the need for agility that much more important. Assess how well upper management has communicated the vision to the management team and how well the management team has disseminated the vision to front-line staff. Take the vision to HR and work with HR on the people side of the organization (e.g., roles, responsibilities, skills, job descriptions) to improve the organizational model; and work with management to improve the governance structure.

Assessing the impact to the organization must be integrated into the cycle of continuous improvement and mitigation strategies must be rolled out with the change. Consider the end-to-end business process; those that span business functions and organizational boundaries. Determine how the change affects discrete business processes as well as how changes in various processes affect related processes and business functions. Also important to manage is the impact of the changes on information flow and the tools that support the processes.

Creating the desire to change becomes even more difficult; and is critical to avoiding burnout and turnover. While working with management and staff to understand the tolerance for change, also work with executive management to understand the organization’s tolerance for incentives. Bring this information to HR to develop an incentive program, which becomes part of the organization model.

Finally, those selected to champion the change and support the staff must not view this role as a short-term investment in this situation. Those affected by the change depend on the support structure to help them through the change. Executive management depends on the support structure to feed metrics and KPIs into the governance cycle and will use that information to further mature the governance structure. Individuals may have to cycle through this role, but it is a continuous role and effective transitions plans must be put into place to ensure a continuous cycle of support.

Now you need a BPMS

I firmly believe that you must have a handle on your business processes before you can manage them. That means you have to have adopted the BPM discipline before you can make meaningful use of a Business Process Management Suite (BPMS). If that is the case, and you agree that OCM is an integral part of BPM, then OCM should contribute significantly to the selection of a BPMS, but how?

The answer to that question is the Business Architect.

 

  • The Business Architect utilizes the organizational structure of the enterprise to identify the various parts of the organization affected by change and how they are affected. This knowledge contributes to the BPMS selection process by indentifying whether the BPMS should focus more on people or document flow.
  • The Business Architect understands the relationships between the business processes, business information and capabilities, both automated and manual. This understanding of changes to information flow and the tools that support the processes may indicate the need for a BPMS more focused on back-end integration.
  • The Business Architect knows, having aligned the strategic objectives with tactical demands, what motivates staff. The Business Architect also has enough information and documentation at this point to predict where the most impact to the business will occur. This knowledge supports overall governance and indicates if a BPMS suited for decision-making is in order.

 

Conclusion

I hope I am wrong that OCM is rarely, if ever, considered in the same context with BPM. I hope I am the only person out there whose personal experience is such that OCM is only considered when significant technology changes force the issue. If not, please consider this: BPM, by definition, means continuous change. Managing change is important. Managing continuous change is more important, if you wish to keep awareness high, impact well within capacity, resistance abated, and adoption an almost certainty.

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