Firms failing with BPM

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Firms failing with BPM

Business process management (BPM) is first and foremost a management discipline, not a technical one, and should only be adopted to deliver innovation. That was the key message from BPM expert Mark McGregor, who was speaking at a customer roundtable hosted by BEA Systems last week.

McGregor said the wrong way to tackle BPM is with IT searching for a problem and then a solution. Instead, McGregor said IT needs to understand the “other side” and the underlying business problems of the organisation. He said organisations embarking on a BPM project must start by building a “framework for change” that has the project’s ultimate goal at its core. “Just looking at the strategy, people, processes and systems isn’t working, so we need to look at the purpose first,” he said.

This approach helps to give a strategy context and allows it to be judged a success or failure, he said.

Responsibility for BPM should rest with the organisation’s business side rather than its technical department, he added. BPM requires business-driven projects that are supported by IT rather than the other way around.

McGregor said his method of delivering transformation in an organisation needs an IT department with good people skills. If staff considerations are not taken into account the outcome will be short-lived change, and this will just bring frustration, he added. “Change projects have to be important enough to do – people should not want to go back to the old way of doing things,” he said.

It is important to focus on customer outcomes and to communicate strategy honestly to staff, McGregor said. An ideal BPM strategy would be driven by co-operative teams, with a focus on creating a more customer-centric organisation, he added.

McGregor’s talk ended with a warning: “If BPM is put in place to do things cheaper then great, but if it is to cut back on jobs then don’t do it. Management tends to pay for the new technology but then shy away from staff cut backs - so at the end of it the budget expenditure has actually increased.”

Jeff Toney, BEA vice president of global sales, said the close involvement of end-users is key to the successful delivery of BPM. He said project leaders must ensure users understand the need for change. Also needed is operational efficiency to ensure performance monitoring and compliance is possible.

Toney pointed to the two parts of BPM: building technology to ensure systems interact for the benefit of the enterprise, and using technology to ensure humans interact well together for the good of systems and customers.

Implementing BPM on the human side is harder, Toney said, adding that collaborative and Web 2.0-style technologies should be used by organisations to ensure creativity is not discouraged.

He also said an organisation’s many departments should work together on a BPM strategy, sharing knowledge, otherwise there is a danger of fragmentation.

Toney declined to comment on BEA’s acquisition by Oracle.
itweek.co.uk @ 2010 Incisive Media
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