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Effective BPM depends on business process discovery, in which BPM professionals hold processes up for scrutiny, analysis, recasting and improvement as business requirements change. But all too often, process discovery stalls or goes astray due to problems such as communication glitches, misplaced priorities and lack of business value.

For advice on addressing such issues, ebizQ turned to BPM experts Kathy Long, founder and senior consultant for Innovative Process Consulting, and Roger Burlton, founder and board member of Business Process Trends Associates and founder of the Process Renewal Group. Following are their insights about 10 common mistakes in and misconceptions about the process discovery:

Mistake #1: Thinking that discovery is only about modeling and notation.

"A lot of people think the purpose of process discovery is to produce a little diagram, with activities connected up in a sequence with dependencies among them on a chart," says Burlton. "But any business process requires a lot of other things to go right. It's not just about activities and workflow."

Instead, the focus should be on the full set of capabilities required to make everything work. Getting there involves considering some important questions, Burlton says. Among them:

-- Do we have a strategy to support?

-- Do we understand who the stakeholders are and what they really need?

-- Do we have the right policies and rules?

-- Do we have the right human competence and capacity and motivation for the work that needs to be done on that process, so that we can reach the desired outcomes?

-- Do we have the right technologies?

And, he adds: "What about organization? What about knowledge?"

Addressing all those issues is critical to understanding the big picture behind that little diagram.

Mistake #2: Starting at the workflow level.

Narrow thinking about business processes also occurs when the work is too focused on technology fixes. "A lot of process-improvement projects are initiated as part of some type of change in technology," notes Long, who was among the speakers at ebizQ's most recent BPM in Action event. In such cases, "the individuals involved began their discovery and documentation of the processes as close to the technology level as possible. This means they are normally documenting process at the step level." As a result, the complete processes aren't documented—only portions of them at that detailed level.


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