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What is the most important question to ask when starting a BPM project?

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What is the most important question to ask when starting a BPM project?

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  • Most important question, "How will we define success?"

    • That's the right question for pretty much anything in your life.

    • "What is our goal?" -- This is more important than a success metric because metrics can be used to 'declare victory'. It is more important than knowing the scope.

      The goal has to be something remarkably tangible...like, "Allow users to find any information necessary to do their jobs in three clicks or less."

      • If I define "Allow users to find any information necessary to do their jobs in three clicks or less," as one of my measures for success, I have met that goal.

        Granted anyone can "game" a measure, but goals can be "gamed" as well. When I think of defining success, the analogy I use is designing and building a structure. Everyone, from architect to engineer to framer to electrical to plumber to drywaller to painter to resident, must have a clear vision and understanding of the details that define what a successful outcome looks like.

        To draw from some of the other responses here, defining a BPM project's success would include developing answers for the following:
        "What is our goal?"
        "What business problem are you trying to solve?"
        What's a bpm project?
        - improving a process?
        - automating a process?
        - make a process perform forever?
        - Mapping a process in a BPM tool in the cloud?
        - Manage your organization by process?
        "Do I have the right people that can make my product successful?"
        "What is the problem?" (sic)
        "How will I know that it's better?" (sic)
        "Why?"
        As CEO - will it keep me out of jail!?
        As CFO - what's the ROI?
        As COO - will it improve operational efficiency?
        As CIO - will it work to help my business colleagues?
        As User - you mean I can actually have a say in how my process works!?
        ..and so on.

        I wasn't trying to be vague (or snarky). The issue I see for most businesses (and this includes enterprise projects of all sorts, including BPM) is that they have no clear definition (or vision, if you will) of what success will look like when they arrive there.

  • Simple: "What business problem are you trying to solve?"

  • What's a bpm project?

    - improving a process?
    - automating a process?
    - make a process perform forever?
    - Mapping a process in a BPMN tool in the cloud?
    - Manage your organization by process?

    By asking this question you will probably see many visions on bpm. I think BPM is not a project. It's one way of managing your organization.

    Let's see.

    Oh, and the most important question to ask is 'where is the start button?'.

  • One question that is often overlooked is, "Do I have the right people that can make my product successful?" Talent, experience and determination can make a big difference to achieving success.

  • I'm with Steve and Faun (in this order).
    1) What your problem is?
    immediately following
    2) How would you know it has become better?

  • If you already know you are starting a BPM project, I would hope you also already know that you have some process that could be improved through automation. If that isn't the case, it means that you only have a general notion that BPM would be good for your business, but you haven't thought specifically about what it would be good for. The right order is to understand what BPM is good for, but then only decide to start a BPM project once you've identified a process that could be improved using BPM.

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    Steve has it right, what business problem are you trying to solve. If you can understand the busines problem, you can tailor your BPM approach and define the success metrics for a successful engageement, otherwise, why are you starting and how do you define success for something you don't fully understand?

  • "Why do you think BPM is the key to solving your business problem ?"

    If it's because a consultant or research group tell you then you might as well walk away right there and then. If you can't articulate what the problem is and why BPM is the cure then you don't fully understand BPM.

  • As CEO - will it keep me out of jail!?
    As CFO - what's the ROI?
    As COO - will it improve operational efficiency?
    As CIO - will it work to help my business colleagues?
    As User - you mean I can actually have a say in how my process works!?

  • When you are thinking about BPM, you must be aware that BPM is never a goal (and absolutely not an IT-thing) .

    Every company already is doing processes, try to make them perform, but are probably not doing that very conscious.

    So it’s really a decision to manage your organization BY process (MBP). In MBP, you really start using your processes to deliver your products and services.
    So you have to decide if managing by process will really help you to realize your mission vision, strategy, whatever.

    The most important question I would ask to answer that question (that is forgotten most) is ‘what are actually our real processes’

    Many times organizations have a very bad understanding about what process management is really about.

    As we all know, process are often defined too small or too big. This will lead to useless implentations or unsteerable things.


    Take for example the process ‘mail delivery’. What customer pays you to deliver it’s mail? Or ‘Incident management’. What is a managed incident?

    So I always start with education/ awareness that a process is your ‘thing’ to deliver results.

    So a process must have a useful result on which you can steer. And probably you promised something about the process result to your process stakeholders (time/cost/quality etc).

    And if you are not delivering, you’re process needs more grip. And there we are. You start with MBP if you need more grip on your processes.

    So my first question to everybody in the company should be: Do you know your real processes, their result and what you promise about this result. And do you know your processes deliver those promises?

    If you can’t answer this question, Don’t start diving in deeper. It might be a waste of time and leading to disappointments in BPM. And it already has a bad name…;-)

    So, a clear process oriented view first (not the same as a process model) to decide if there are processes that need attention.

  • The most important question to ask when starting a BPM project is how will this initiative enhance delivery of differentiable value to our customers?

  • "Why did I only just find out about this project now?"

    In other words, why is it that the project manager / BPM implementation specialist is only allowed to get involved after the 'fun' process analysis has been completed (badly) and the software contract has already been signed?

    Asking questions at the start of the project probably means that many decision are already set in stone by others (probably less experienced in BPM), making the project much more of a challenge for the person asking the questions.

  • Our most recent research points to two key artifacts that drive the starting point for sucessful process management capabilities: oranizational culture and previous process management efforts.

    Organizational culture drives process management effectiveness through the direct actions (an inactions) of leadership. Organizations with "strong" cultures approach process management differently than do those with "less involved" cultures.

    Previous process management efforts define the "playing field" that any individual has to contend with when working on process management.

    Once these two things are understood, effective plans can be developed.

    Every organization does "process management," some just less structured than others. Deciding to get better at something means you've justified the means before you start asking these questions.

  • Lots of good (and, let's admit it, snarky) answers already. But for me the first one stands out: How will we know if we've succeeded?.

    When our customers embark on a trial of Process Director, the first thing we ask them to do is fill out a form that asks that very question. We've found that this simple task results in trials that conclude more rapidly and are vastly more successful.

    The trial represents a microcosm of a production BPM implementation. Identify success and you're much more likely to achieve it.

  • The answer lies in the question.

    The INITIAL question that is asked is 'Should we be undertaking an improvement initiative?'

    From a professional AND an organizational perspective this is a given; we must constantly inact improvement projects to thrive in our given industries - imagine the impact of our competitors executing BPM projects as a part of normal operations while we decide IF we should undertake one...

    The question is never whether or not to start a project - it's a given to out-innovate the competition just to stay on the playing field.

    I submit that the most important question is the SECOND question asked: 'Do we want to start this project?' - a question of motivation and state.

    As leaders we must asses the organization's complete state (mentally, financially, etc.) to provide strong footing to achieve the project's potential.

  • Still very implicit assumptions on what is a bpm project.

    Can anyone tell me? Maybe it is just installing a BPMs or making a nice to be model and might I have a completely wrong idea about BPM.

    But if we are not talking the same, how can we answer peter's question? Let alone, advising our customers or management.

    • Hi Emiel
      I would suggest any initiative that put users requirements as a driver in heading towards and delivering a digitised process application. An "outside in" empowerment and measurement management approach as opposed to traditional enterprise software application being "inside out" being a command and control. The trick is getting both to work together!

      • David,

        So you think BPM is BPMS (or automating a process by making a user driven process application thing).

        I don't agree that is BPM because I've seen companies doing extremely good 'managing by process' without any digitized thing, but at least we have something to talk about now.

        1 vote for BPM = Making a process application.

        • Hi Emiel
          You make a good point but first a BPMSuite is not the answer it is little more that a COTS lacks real flexibility to support change and where people work change support is a must. So you do need good supporting "agile sofware". The reason for the digitised end result is it helps improve efficiency supporting people by supplying the right information at the right time to the right person and allows input of new information only once. Another reason is that what is happening can be measured in real time to help good decision making in the business or making process improvements quickly.

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    This is a very open ended question and I think the first question is what is the scope? I think you have to fully vet and understand the scope which includes the high level business objectives and high level requirements before you can do anything else.

    If you bite off too much or a highly complicated process you have less liklihood of success; if you step back and analyze all the manual processes, or processes happening across various applications today and do a quick Decision Analysis & Resolution on it based on your client/companies criteria and weights of importance you will be more successful in implementing any BPM project.

  • Architecture?

    Thanks,
    AS

  • Wow Peter you out did yourself with this one, lol. Good dialog. The thread about keeping the CEO out of jail is a good one.

    In my professional opinion there are two important questions that should be asked – why and what? Why is there a perceived need for starting a BPM project, is it compliance, customer/market driven. What is the goal or the expected outcome? The answers are the jump off so to speak for BPM strategic planning.

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