Let us admit the fact that manual processes are broken, inefficient, time-consuming, prone to errors, and come with a whole baggage of problems. This lands many companies to a pool of a series of undesirable effects that do no good to nobody. Hence, companies that want to be efficient and smart turn towards business process management (BPM) as a solution to step up their game through process automation. One of the biggest advantages it offers is the ability to orchestrate their existing IT better. It helps seamlessly integrate the several pillars of an organization’s’ IT support system to help derive maximum ROI out of it.
But, is it that simple? Why is BPM considered quite complex and time-taking? Well, there are several layers in an organization that need to give a buy-in for a completely drastic change in operating procedures. A BPM solution means a major change in the regular day-to-day operational activities that could affect tens of hundreds of users. This means that a lot of care has to go into making the right choice of tool that users will find easy to adapt to. It has the potential to truly change their entire way of operating.
But implementing a BPM is a huge responsibility layered with many challenges. Ideally, the implementation process begins with identifying the requirements and ends in executing the tool to meet the desired organizational goals. Interestingly, companies can start small and wrap their heads around a few processes until they gain the confidence to expand a BPM’s usage to a company-wide scale. In the zest to get into implementing automation, one may tend to overlook the possible damaging outcomes it can have. That must be avoided as the call for automation is purely specific to the use-case. Without a clear purpose, embarking on the exercise can be a heftily expensive mistake.
There are umpteen other considerations from an end-user standpoint depending on the industry. This is particularly true in the case of industries like manufacturing where the employees are largely blue-collar workers. To what extent can IT make in-roads into their day-to-day activities is a call organizations need to take. After taking into account all such key considerations, the organization decides to get into the act of implementing a BPM solution. The 5 most important stages of implementing BPM in an organization are discussed below:
Choice of product
BPM software comes in all sizes and shapes, budgets, and complexities. Selecting the right BPM software for your company is not as easy and picking the top-ranking vendors in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant. What might be a perfect BPM tool for a multitude of other businesses might not be a close fit to your enterprise because no two companies are the same.
There are some key considerations when evaluating BPM software. The one-size fits all approach does not apply in the BPM paradigm at all. After considering the top features that would add maximum value to the organization, the choices are narrowed down.
The selection process usually begins by identifying your requirements and defining your end goals. Are you looking for rich functionality or do you prefer usability over features? Who is going to use the tools, the technical experts or the average business users? The first step to choosing a BPM tool should ideally begin with creating a list of meaningful questions that clarify your needs and the purpose of adopting a BPM tool.
Answering these questions can hugely affect your vendor selection process and save your company from future frustrations.
After the initial list of 4 is made, it is typically narrowed down to 2 and they are considered for intricate examination. This intricate evaluation typically takes a couple of months because of the series of test involved such as process simulations, pricing and ROI calculation, user-friendliness, scalability, and so on. Typically, companies form a vendor evaluation team that includes BPM experts, and they choose an existing business process to pilot run the automation using the chosen products. The team assesses the shortlisted tools from several perspectives such as:
- How much time does it save for all?
- How tight is the data security?
- How much access control does it allow?
- What is the cost benefit it brings in?
- Does it help to improve overall operational efficiency?
- Does it contribute to organizational productivity?
Once the trial run is over, the process naturally moves to picking the most suitable solution that checks all the right boxes to the above questions. When the process owners and the company’s decision makers are on the same page about adopting the most suitable tool, they initiate a purchasing that involves internal and external stakeholders.
In larger organizations, this might take a while because of the varying processes they have, the complexities of the processes, and the negotiation with the selected vendor based on your company’s requirements.
Once the purchase is closed, a company sets up the necessary technologies to roll out the BPM tool into their processes. The installation of an on-premise BPM software would require active involvement from both the vendor and the participating enterprise teams. The hand-holding role of vendor is very crucial for this stage because there might be skill gaps in the enterprise to not fully understand the working of the said BPM product. This is why your business should also consider a BPM vendor’s customer support and training as a decisive factor during the evaluation process.
This step has a tendency to become complex in a larger organizations, especially if they are spread across different geographies. It might encounter initial resistance from the teams and resource lag, but given the right kind of execution and enough preparation, the IT and other technical teams can make the installation robust and ready to deploy on time. At times, language- or code-based customizations may be needed in order to suit language and usage preferences of specific geographies respectively. This is particularly true in the case of verticals such as manufacturing.
You would assume that your communication with the vendor about their BPM product is over after the installation process. However, leading vendors stick by their clients till they train their teams and get them accustomed to use all the features and functionalities they have included in their BPM arsenal.
The deployment stage gives way to evangelization and user training. Existing BPM experts in partnership with vendor teams coach the designated process owners, admins, end-users, and all other stakeholders to dirty their hands and know the basics of the product.
This is the best time for the client company to encourage their BPM participants to ask questions specific to their domain and the processes they will be automating. How to incorporate conditions or handle exceptions? How to generate reports? Can you map the processes differently? How to setup an SLA? These are a few questions that require hands-on training, and perhaps proper documentation for future reference.
It is worthwhile for your teams to spend more time with the trainers and get comfortable around knowing the tool inside out rather than rushing through the process and facing difficulties at a later stage.
Your teams know the product, but how about introducing the new system to the existing applications in your enterprise? Whether your BPM comes pre-integrated with major software or demands API integration, you should ensure that the workflow management system sits well with the legacy systems and other core software in your enterprise network.
Except for the default and basic-level integrations, you might require support from the IT team to connect your BPM software with ADS for authentication (Single sign on) and other similar applications. This is an important step in the BPM’s entry to your organization because combining the applications of all software creates a powerful synergy in your enterprise and enables the exchange of data between individual systems when it is needed. It will also assimilate the BPM system to fit well into the existing IT framework so that it can operate seamlessly within the new environment.
Business process automation is a major leap for every organization to improve its overall efficiency and scale its operations to greater heights. Tedious as it may seem at the initial stages, the proper implementation offers several tangible benefits to the organization and ensures predictable outcomes that are in alignment with the company’s profit goals. Of course, the process needs a great deal of conviction at both the strategic and operational levels to embark into a BPM journey which will have several long-term benefits and help shape a productive, efficient organization. Often times, BPM pricing is accused to be opaque and one of the reasons is the inherent costs involved at each stage in terms of time and resources involved.
It’s important to realize not treating the BPM implementation as a “project” with a beginning and a definitive end; it is a continuous learning process to absorb the BPM solution completely in your organization. Nevertheless, a step-by-step approach to implementing a BPM solution would lead to achieve excellence in business processes thereby benefitting the organization at large. The right BPM software is customizable to your needs, and offers optimum functionalities to amplify the processes that differentiates your business from the market competition. It ensures that the business outcomes are more predictable and puts key stakeholders accountable.