Business Process Excellence Starts by Avoiding “BPM”

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November 7, 2012 – Before the strategic outline, buy-in sessions and technology shopping with your business process plan, start by avoiding the acronym BPM, says MWD Principal Analyst Mark McGregor.

McGregor, a process program analyst with an extensive Six Sigma background at the British-based research firm, gave his “7 Steps to Process Excellence” guidelines Wednesday as part of a broadcast presented by information industry advocacy group AIIM. The term business process management itself has garnered a connotation as too stuffy or technology-oriented, which has submarined process efforts before they even get going, according to McGregor.

“There is a crying need for all of us to improve process. But if we use those three little letters – BPM – suddenly you watch audiences disappear before your eyes,” McGregor says.

There are a handful of process approaches – Six Sigma, BPMS, case management and customer experience management, among them – though McGregor says it always comes down to the people behind the process. McGregor says too many enterprises run concurrent process projects that don’t reach across silos and sequestered teams for business management efforts that ultimately have the same end goals.

“If you’re running your teams in isolation, then there’s a pretty good chance you’re creating more work for yourself ... which doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense in today’s economic world,” he says.

Enterprises that follow through on successful business process implementations tend to take a measured approach, only taking on technology where it’s appropriate at each step along the way, McGregor says. In a more strategic sense, the analyst noted that successful enterprise BPM repeatedly hammers on innovation, customers, teamwork rather than individuals, and “process rather than policies and procedures.” Getting all of that accomplished may come off as lofty, McGregor says, but behind the entire endeavor is actions taken by the process team members.

“If you just focus on people, then you will find that all of the other things happen,” McGregor says. “Working with people is going to get you a long, long way.”

McGregor was careful to state that his process steps are “a” guideline and not “the” definitive guideline. He recommends a review of other strategies as a reference point for how they may work for particular industries and enterprise maturity levels. All the same, his seven steps are as follows:

  1. Discovery and simplification, with a focus on waste elimination
  2. Information capture and documentation
  3. Process and animation to team members
  4. Modeling design and improvement
  5. Simulation and optimization, including a cycle of scenario planning, visualization and testing of hypothesis, and statistical analysis
  6. Operationalizing models toward generation and execution
  7. Monitoring and management, including re-animation and simulations to identify and apply solutions

AIIM plans to rebroadcast the Web seminar later this week. For a paper outlining McGregor's business process roadmap in greater detail, click here.

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