Business process management becomes more and more important in a world of ever increasing business changes and an increasing search for a competitive edge.
But many organisations are struggling with finding a way to implement BPM principles. It is not an easy task. The difficult part is often to figure out where to start and to plan adoption of BPM principles when they are relevant for you.
A way to get guidance on how to approach implementing BPM in your organisation is to be inspired by various BPM maturity models.
BPM maturity models are models where you, typically through a questionnaire or interviews, get a score that place you on one of the steps on the maturity model ladder.
Related to each step is a characteristic description and guidance towards elements needed to implement in order to move to the next level.
The concept of measuring maturity is not new. Popularity in measuring maturity has increased since the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University released the Capability Maturity Model in the early '90's (for measuring software development maturity).
Gartner Inc. has developed a model for measuring an organisation’s BPM maturity. Gartner is not alone in this field - e.g. OMG has a maturity model as well.
In general you can say that the maturity models provide you with a guide on how your organisation can implement BPM in a structured way. Gartner, for instance identifies in their maturity model six phases for BPM implementation.
Here is a short list of quick wins tips when implementing BPM (for small+medium+not+so+mature organisations):
1. Don't rely on the maturity models - use them for inspiration. The focus in these maturity models are on large organisations. In my opinion you can end up with a very time consuming process if you follow the maturity model track in details.
2. Don't focus on tools, focus on processes. Often organisations starting adopting BPM start buying a modelling tool and focus on getting the best tool with nice features. This approach will not bring you business value very fast.
3. Agree on standards and frameworks. Start with establishing common understanding of what techniques and standards to use. Later on you can discuss methods and modelling tools.
4. Establish a competence team. Find out who is the BPM champion and let that person/team lead the BPM implementation.
5. Avoid theoretically discussions - work on a real project. Get started with a real project. Test what works in the field and what doesn't.
6. Be selective - what works for you? What brings you business value? Even though a template or a framework tells you to do things in a certain way, if it doesn't work for your organisation you should remove it.
7. Be aware of templates. Templates are great but don't be a slave to templates (see tip # 6)
8. Don't force your organisation to adopt more than it can consume. Here the maturity models are great for inspiration. Always learn to crawl before learning to walk.
9. Don't over complicate BPM. After all BPM is just a managing technique. Make sure it brings business value instantly and avoid too deep theoretically discussions.
10. Focus on bringing business value fast.
Fast-track tips for bringing business value in your way up the BPM maturity ladder:
Starters - Level1 - starting adopting BPM:
- Focus on BPM techniques.
- Use simple tools to get started - e.g. just paper and sticky notes
- Focus on understanding business problems
Highlights when moving from level1 to level2:
- Move from paper, sticky notes and drawing tools to modelling tools
- Document and manage your BPM techniques. Notice that you probably only have adopted techniques at this stage (e.g. AS-IS TO-BE modelling) but probably have not adopted methods (specifying how to do it).
- Focus on solving business problems by reordering processes, removing redundant processes, run processes in parallel, etc.
Highlights when moving from level2 to level3:
- Establish a formal process competence team that owns and drives methods and guidelines
- Establish methods on how to approach BPM
- Establish templates, guides, training materials etc.
- Focus on performance indicators
- Focus on automation and IT supporting processes
Highlights when moving from level3 and upwards:
- Focus on BPMS
- Focus on process performance measure
- Focus on process simulation
- Tie the process execution to the corporate strategy
- Make sure all initiatives are process driven
If you want to dig into the details of BPM Maturity Model I recommend getting the Gartner document “BPM Maturity Model Identifies Six Phases for Successful BPM Adoption” and see for yourself.