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What are some of the biggest process problems companies have with BPM?

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Very simply, what are some of the biggest process problems companies have with BPM?

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  • * "What is BPM?"
    * BPM as a solution to an unidentified problem
    * BPMS sold as a solution, though it's actually only a development tool to (possibly) create a solution
    * BPM is seen as an IT issue
    * BPM is sold as (and regarded as) an easy fix, even though it's probably one of the most complex issues around
    * Lack of assigned responsibility
    * No acountability
    * Unskilled employees
    * Refusing to admit to the importance of soft factors
    * Lack of 'cultural fit'
    * Ignorance of human behaviour
    * Regarded as seperate from change and organisational mgmt
    * ...

    (But it's not as bad as it sounds :-) )

  • Recently, we have concluded a research, based on a websurvey, on the adoption of BPM. 168 participants from all leading Dutch organizations (public and private) participated.
    One of our key questions: What are the three key barriers you have encountered in your BPM-initiatives?

    The top-5 barriers we have found:
    1. Functional siloed culture
    2. Management does not see the benefits of BPM
    3. BPM is seen as an IT-subject
    4. Our application landscape can not be adjusted quickly enough to support our process improvement requirements
    5. Under stress, we situationally ignore/forget our processes

    In terms of adoption of BPM and the so-much required management support for this, I wrote a blog entry here:

    More about the research (and to reserve a copy), navigate to:

    Note that the report is in Dutch.

  • Adoption.

    When the project team bites off more than it can chew, when the simple solution ends up being overly complex and riddled with exceptions, when executive management give less than enthusiastic support ... frustration mounts, promised benefits fail to accrue and adoption slows.

    No matter the process problems the human factors continue to be of more significance than anyone ever expects.

  • I have an interesting call with a senior Gartner analyst yesterday who focuses on CIOs and not BPM. He was researching how the role of the CIO was changing to be measured by "revenue generation" rather than "keeping the lights on".

    The challenge with BPM when seen through the eyes of the CIO is that it is an automation technology to be installed. If you look through the eyes of the senior business transformation sponsor (COO, VP Business Operations, Hd of Business Excellence, VP Business Transformation...) then they look at BPM as a major transformation approach, where IT plays a supporting role. These individuals ARE driven by how BPM can drive up revenues as well as improve efficiency.

    What came out of the conversation is that the future CIO will not have a career path that comes up through IT, but will have a financial, product or operational background. So the BPM sponsors or champions are potential CIOs of the future.

    When the CIO has a change of focus (career direction, measurement, remuneration) from IT to business then BPM will gather greater momentum and remove many of the barriers on Thomas' excellent list.

  • Companies don't have process problems with BPM but have a lack of support and leadership which leads to confusion and waste. Process improvement or any kind of business changes are hard. It takes commitment from the top and then ongoing support and leadership. Once this kind of support is in place, there are tools and skill sets that make the process of improving processes relatively easy. Once the processes are performing at an acceptable level, the organization can start the continuous improvement phase.

  • Thomas has several excellent points and I'm not surprised by the results of Roeland's survey.

    All of the issues can be summarized into one statement, "ignorance is not bliss".

    The process problem is, knowledge.

    The problems or constraints that exist are generally the result of "not knowing what is not known".

    For example, not knowing that BPM is not an IT project and never should be.

    Process is about delivering value to customers.

    Because of a lack of knowledge, organizations don't realize that, although not easy, the solution is simple.

    Educate everyone about process. Once management and staff really understand what process is and that it is the organization, everything else can be addressed.

  • I have been working with a client on site for the last week who understands process, but knows nothing about BPM. The people do 'process' every day, or they couldn't run their business (its a financial services firm and compliance depends on process).

    The problem for them is that to get to the next level, it is less about educating people about the steps that make up a process, and more about providing some tools to facilitate them to do work more productively. Email is not that facilitator. The accounting software doesn't help. The electronic records management system captures the result of a process, and the client / order management system capture whatever it is that makes sense in the moment.

    The problem is, how to you persuade a company they need yet another piece of software to facilitate all this other software and people to work better? And with that, you can then start to make the processes better?

    The issue is that many companies are done buying software. And frankly BPM software is the one thing that companies need to fill the gaps in their IT environment. But you can't plug-and-play, and you can't just rely on integration. People are the key. The old consulting sales pitch of "people, process and technology" still holds true, just in a different way.

  • Too bad in this discussion we see the great divide again (BPM = software, BPM = discipline). Does not help. And probably it's the biggest barrier.

  • While in principle BPM is a management concept and not software it makes absolutely no sense to even discuss BPM without talking technology. The divide is there because of what is being sold. BPM Consultancy companies sell methodology and BPM software companies software.

    The biggest issue of both is really change and change management! What you get with both today is a huge increase in bureucracy that is not really accounted for when BPM is planned. There is a one-time write-off for the project against the efficiency gain (a.k.a. manpower reduction) but that is it.

    A BPM mindset must be related to more than just thinking in workflows/processes/cases. It must start with a business architecture that defines all the things you need and the BPM software should enable that step. It is the technology that has to bring the executive, management, process owners, performers and customers together. That must be the social aspect of a modern BPM solution. It must provide more than anything else TRANSPARENCY and it must EMPOWER all of the above to do their thing in the system with as little technology effort as possible. But BPM won't happen without technology.

    Implementing and integrating many tools for BA, modeling, Social, BPM, simulation, ECM, CRM, portals and then try to optimize them by heavy use of BI will simply go down the big project failure drain.

  • I believe too many companies and us designers etc rely too much on BPM as a concept.

    It guides us in all thinking in similar fashions, and sometimes that really stiffles innovative thinking, rather than promtes it.

    This is one of the big issues with BPM in general, it promotes efficiency mainly through refinement and thats due to us using the methodology...Is it the biggest problem for companies, I think so, as it stops radical changes and potentially can stop a company from gaining a market advantage...

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