Four keys to success
The value of business process management (BPM) to an organization has been proven time and time again. Therefore, you would imagine that gaining management support for a BPM initiative should be simple. The fact is that you will still need a compelling business case in order to get the management support and sponsorship needed to establish a BPM capability in any enterprise.
In this article I will give you four key steps that you can follow to help you establish a case for BPM. Following these steps will enable a repeatable framework for developing a business case for new or continued justification of your BPM projects.
1. Identify the processes to be included
Identifying the initial process, or set of processes, that will be included in your BPM will be your first step. You need to have a clearly understood process as your starting point, and it is important that the process that will be used as your proof of concept has a very strong chance of delivering a successful outcome. This is not the time for attacking difficult processes, you should be looking for a process area where you can almost guarantee some quick wins for the business.
There are some potential candidates that are almost universal in all organizations:
- HR Processes
- New customer on-boarding
- Contract management
These are process that are generally manual, paper-based, inconsistent and inefficient, they are a source of great frustration for those involved in administering them and the recipients of the process outcomes. These are the characteristics that make these the perfect candidates for improvement via BPM.
2. Identify the ‘current state’
With the initial process candidate(s) identified, it is time to define your starting point – benchmarking the ‘current state’ of your process. At this stage we are not looking for a comprehensive re-engineering exercise. This is simply a chance to gain an understanding of the target process. You can successfully do this by looking at the ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘why’ and ‘by whom’ aspects of the work being done. The best way of achieving this is to simply go and talk to the key stakeholders and the people involved in delivery.
You will need to exercise caution during this phase, be careful not to over-scrutinize at this stage, as this can lead to your stakeholders, who you need to have onboard, becoming defensive.
3. Decide what success looks like
Defining the goals and metrics for your BPM initiative is something that needs to be done at the beginning stages of any improvement. As with any initiative, you cannot improve what you cannot measure. Well defined success criteria and metrics are a critical element to your business case. You need to include:
- Clearly understood and validated project goals
- Success criteria agreed to by all stakeholders
- Well defined milestones that show how, and when, success is going to be measured
- Mapping of process metrics to corporate objectives
4. Define the return on investment model
Your return on investment (ROI) model is going to quantify the positive benefits you identified in the previous steps. You will then indicate potential costs and identify the potential savings.
You should avoid the temptation to look to include small, incremental time-savings – for example ‘employees will save 10 minutes of time daily’ – these micro-savings will simply be absorbed, with little measurable benefit to the organization.
Concentrate your calculations where you are able to verify real labour savings or actually redeploy resources to other areas. You can group the potential benefits into these categories:
- Hard financial benefits – these will be real opportunities for cost savings that will free up money to be allocated elsewhere
- Soft benefits – these are bottom-line improvements that may be difficult to quantify in financial terms
- Strategic and operational benefits – these are the areas where your BPM initiative improves customer service, or increases agility. These are not included in ROI calculations, but are an integral component of your business case.
Putting the case together
By including these four steps in your business case preparation, you should be able to win over critical sponsors who will support and champion the development of a BPM capability. Piloting the BPM initiative by targeting processes that are causing real pain to the organization will gain you some quick wins and harness the support of the enterprise. The incremental improvements you will be able to make in these first targeted processes will establish the value of BPM in the organization.