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What is the key to business process maturity?

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From Chris Taylor's blog, What holds back BPM maturity? according to a recent Forrester study, most organizations still fall relatively low on the business process maturity curve. So what is the key to achieving and maintaining business process maturity?

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  • It starts with a company having a process culture. The CEO needs to really BELIEVE that effective, effecient processes (ie operational excellence) will impact both top and bottom line. That said there are plenty of successful companies where process is not a priority, something else is. Like a passion for product design, or a pathological focus on sales.

  • Actually, to challenge Ian's comment a little, it starts before that. It starts with education.

    Unlike the Big Bang, a process culture can't spring from nothing. You need to educate and understand first what it means to think process, how to view process across the organisation and why it impacts the top and bottom line. And everyone needs to breathe that, at the the same time, not just wait for the CEO's lightbulb moment, everyone in the organisation has to go on the same journey and learn together.

    Maturity only comes from learning. And it doesn't stop.

  • In a most broad sense it is "Consistent effort over time." Nothing happens quickly when it comes to maturing. I think too many organizations give up when the efforts are not producing the results they “Thought” they were going to get when they were going to get them. Or they just implement a BPMS and a process and think that’s all it takes. There are a lot of reasons for this but too many and broad to go into. The consistent effort over time needs to include constant process refinement, and analyses don’t let them get stagnant. The consistent effort also needs to include education. The education does not have to be formal sit in a classroom but you need to constantly be educating and as Theo points out educating on how to think process.

  • I'm inclined to agree with Chris G. As the blog notes, "technology needs to support process improvement". Organizations get such a big boost from simply automating their processes, they often don't take the next step, which is to collect the data needed to continually improve what they've automated. After all, that's a lot of effort for what appears to be less immediate reward.

    But isn't the whole point of "maturity" learning that instant gratification isn't a foundation for true happiness? If you let it, your BPM solution will provide you with a wealth of information you can use to make your processes more efficient, more robust, and more effective. It takes effort, but taking advantage of that capability is a sure sign of maturity.

  • I don't know if a correct analysis as in the Forrester report isn't used to draw the wrong conclusions. This report to my mind says nothing less than most firms need to reconsider how to manage processes, how to use technology and how to do business as a whole. In this sense process maturity begins with defining goals and ends with a proper customer outcome. Process maturity goes beyond optimization and simplification towards transparency and variety, and yes, it needs an embedded business architecture and not another chitter tool.

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