⚠️ Important update: Workfellow ceases operations on Feb 7, 2024
Read update

What to do in the first 90 days of BPM implementation?

Welcome to the wonderful world of BPM. We are continuing our blog series with operational excellence expert and former continuous improvement director at the LEGO Group, Peter Evans. 

Now that we’ve covered the basics of BPM in the last episode, we’re now moving on to discussing its practicalities. What should an operational excellence leader do in the first 90 days of BPM implementation? Read further if you’re as excited about improving the processes as we are. 

What exactly is BPM?

Business process management (BPM) is a systematic strategy for enhancing the effectiveness, agility, and efficiency of business operations. In order to align processes with corporate strategy and consumer needs, they must be designed, modeled, executed, monitored, and optimized. To get better results, BPM uses approaches and tools like process mapping, process analysis, and process improvement. BPM seeks to improve customer happiness, decrease waste, streamline processes, and boost profitability. To adapt to shifting business conditions and consumer expectations, BPM calls for a strong commitment from all organizational levels and an emphasis on continuous improvement.

5 steps to acing the BPM implementation

Getting started can sometimes feel like a battle in an alien world. But with great stakeholder management, clear understanding of your customers, and a great team with you it needn’t be!

1. Understand the baseline. 

BPM is all about improving processes and making work less frustrating for people. However, to know what to improve and how to do that, one should know where to start. Doing any BPM activities without clearly understanding the status quo is like navigating a dark tunnel, hoping the axe will help find an exit. 

Peter Evans believes that there are two main categories of firms when it comes to starting with process excellence activities, and both require different approaches, different tools, and strategies. Therefore, the first question one should ask themselves is the following:

“Are you doing this because you are in a business that really doesn't understand its processes and needs to go from scratch? Or are you in a business that is mature and understands its process but knows that it's not as efficient as it could be, and you're looking to improve from there?” 

As Peter mentioned, the two types of companies are the ones that need to discover the processes from scratch and the ones that have relatively better visibility over the processes. While this sounds quite obvious to some, bigger companies with multiple offices over different locations might have completely different ways of working in each of them, in which case the Center of Excellence might not be aware of all the process excellence activities happening in the company. Therefore, it is important to go through past improvement activities and bring the existing knowledge together. “It's very hard to plan if you don't know where you're starting from, right? You don't take your family on holiday by jumping in the car and saying: all right, where should we go?” – says Peter. Only after that, can one identify what they want to achieve from BPM initiatives.

2. Communicate the goals and find internal champions 

Communicating the goals and rationale behind them to people in the organization is as important as the execution of the project itself. This is because process excellence activities directly affect the employees either in the discovery stage or later when implementing the findings. For example, the process discovery activities might be perceived by people as micro-controlling, which might push them to feel negativity towards such initiatives. Therefore, it is crucial to communicate the overall intention in the early days of BPM. As Peter beautifully summarized it:

“You can bring the people together and have your pre-sessions with them, so they understand what BPM is, why you're doing it, who are you doing it for, what the benefits are likely to be, and what's in it for them - in my world at the LEGO Group we always came at things from “Purpose & Impact”!”

Keeping people updated is especially important because they are going to be your first supporters and internal champions in the BPM journey. You need internal champions because they are the people who help communicate the value of BPM internally to their teams, as well as contribute their wisdom and knowledge of the specific unit they work in. As a BPM leader, you can’t be aware of all the processes happening in the organization, so having people who are excited about your initiatives and ready to contribute their time and effort is significant. 

“You need somebody in there who not only will be influential enough to bring other people along with them and will understand the language of that part of the business, but also who can look at things and say, does this actually make sense or not?”

On that note, finding the right timing that works for people is the key. Most people will be available for a BPM project for only a few hours a week. This is completely reasonable and sufficient as well, as long as you plan things accommodating all the participants. The strategy and timeline might change along the way, so it’s a good practice to be more flexible. Peter brings forth an example from his previous workplace: 

“If you are trying to make significant change happen in the Lego group, you don't do it in high season when they're working really hard to get all the product out for Christmas, for instance. Asking them at that time to sit back and describe how they're doing things is probably not a very good idea, right?”

3. Connect with the business – customers & stakeholders 

The next important step in early-stage BPM implementation is connecting with all the stakeholders beyond just employees in the company. Where are they at, who does what, and what is their perception of where they are? Do they understand their processes as they exist today? How do they describe those? How do they measure them? These are critical to find out alongside understanding the customer aspects of that journey. “That stakeholder analysis piece is absolutely vital because you need to understand in each of the areas you're working, how decisions are made, where decisions are made, and how you need to make it work,” Peter explains.

No process comes in isolation from the customers. You should connect everything to the customers because whatever is done internally directly affects them.

4. Discuss findings with people 

Once you’ve communicated everything to the employees, customers, and other stakeholders, it’s time to dive deep into the discovery and analysis processes. What are the tools that are going to be used? What are the frameworks and mechanisms in use? How is the process going to be measured? While answering these questions, always get back to the customers.

One of the problems in the discovery stage is that there’s a lot of information to be gone through. It could be thousands or even millions of transactions, which need some help to be cleaned and got down to a sensible, workable level . The data might be collected through process mining or other hybrid tools, but one still needs insights from individuals to understand what we’re looking at.

Some of the findings from data might seem illogical or counter-intuitive, and that can usually be explained by people who actually work on those processes and can explain why that could be the case. Find people who are knowledgeable in the particular area or department and overlay the collected data with their experience. With any tool and software, you still need people’s explanation, their expertise, and wisdom. It is time-consuming but crucial. 

5. Get your hands dirty 

The golden rule of any big initiative is not to get overconfident. Even when things get smoother and clearer, it’s better not to assume that processes are discovered and managed completely. People have different ways of looking at things, so as a BPM leader, one of the goals is to find out what others think and their views and preferences. Being open-minded is a key driver for any positive BPM-powered changes. Sometimes, it will feel like nothing is happening; people will ask when the changes will occur. Remember that incremental improvements can sometimes be harder to see, but they will eventually drive positive developments. 

Organizations can get very siloed. Although one department thinks that they know its processes and do everything the best way possible, its work practices might hold others back by not providing what the other department needs. Peter brings up an example of the hospitals, where one department fills out the form, and the next department has to spend an hour translating that form to their “language” or to the format they need. As one of the crucial goals of BPM, you need to find ways to break inter-departmental silos and make the work flow. 

Bottomline 

Business process management activities have the power to transform the entire organization when executed well. Many things need to be done in the first months of BPM implementation; however, the most crucial ones are understanding the baseline and setting up good communication practices and channels with all the stakeholders. Last but not least, BPM needs to be done in the language people understand. Fancy terms or technical wording won’t do the job for you; speaking the language of people will. 

Luckily, there are many automated tools that ease the BPM implementation process and take it a few steps further. Process intelligence tools like Workfellow provide a complete visibility for end-to-end processes making the BPM ride easier and more enjoyable. Moreover, the innovative technology provides automation recommendations taking the BPM initiative one step further.

Written by

Kazyna Turdibayeva

Marketing manager at Workfellow
kazyna@workfellow.ai