Several high-profile business process management (BPM) programmes have recently been dropped, leading to questions around the viability of the technology.
A recent blog post by Elise Olding, research director at Gartner, examines why BPM is facing more challenges in recent times.
Olding says there are five reasons why some programmes struggle, or fail to succeed:
* Tinkering – many BPM projects tout results from automating paper intensive routine activities, many times with little, if any breakthrough re-thinking about the work. This is often because the automation is at the task or activity level. Getting a bunch of people in a room and asking them how to improve their work in a two hour meeting can’t possibly yield innovative results.
* BPM is special – some organisations create a BPM empire from scratch and don’t play nicely in the sand box with already mature disciplines like enterprise architecture, project management and applications development. BPMers tout breaking down process silos, while they blindly build their own methods, governance and competency centres.
* Bottlenecks in BPM – the BPM group becomes a bottleneck because the team is doing the detailed work. Pretty soon transformation teams, aligned with strategic processes begin to sprout up – especially in large organisations.
* One process for all – standardisation has become synonymous with BPM. Whether right or wrong, many execs refer to “standardising business processes” as their view of what BPM achieves. As an expectation, this road is fraught with politics at the front end and shadow processes at the back-end.
* Cost cutting mode – doing things more cheaply is not always the answer. Efficiency is a short term win – there’s only so much efficiency users can wring out of their organisation. Then what? Effectiveness is boundless and radically rethinking how work is done creates long term value that pays forward.
The advice here is to think bigger, play nice with others, embrace effectiveness and focus on long-term value. BPMers need to radically rethink what the role of visibility, accountability and adaptability will be for the future of their organisation.