The 5 Biggest Challenges with Business Process Management

Posted / 17 July, 2018

Author / Enginess

business process management

Business Process Management (BPM) isn’t always easy. For as long as there has been BPM, there’s been a revolving door of challenges, objections, issues, and problems, from scepticism over new technology to an entrenched reluctance to think and behave differently.

In this article, we look at the top 5 challenges for Business Process Management in today’s business environment.

1. Moving beyond tech deployments

Organizations often see BPM as simply a tool or a consultant brought in to recommend new technology (or sell the technology itself).

In reality, to make a meaningful contribution to the business, BPM needs to think holistically about the changes it recommends and put in place.

However, that holistic approach can be met with resistance, as BPM is seen to be overstepping its role.

BPM consultants and the companies who pay them both need to understand that business process management is about the end-to-end business process, not just the technology.

2. Poor buy-in from executive leaders

BPM has a bit of a history of promising the moon and not delivering. And while there’s some truth to that, the current climate is different:

Combined, this means there’s more need for BPM and a higher chance of BPM success since the tools are there to realize the vision.

But executives often have to be convinced, having been burned in the past (regardless of whether it was the fault of BPM or a failure of the organization to change).

3. Poor buy-in from end-users

BPM consultants and internal BPM champions both need to work together to ensure they secure buy-in from end-users before a change is deployed.

And this buy-in starts at the beginning. BPM managers need to:

  • Meet and collaborate with end-users during requirements gathering and process mapping
  • Explain where the bottlenecks are and what opportunity exists for improvement
  • Assuage concerns that change will design out positions – rather, focus on the fact that employees aren’t being replaced, but are going to have the chance to do their job more efficiently.
  • Explain the technology – how it works, why it was chosen. If possible, try and get end-users to trial it and provide feedback.
  • Set expectations around deliverables and output. Make sure end-users and executives both understand productivity will dip immediately following implementation of the new process, as people get used to it – and that’s okay.

Only by securing buy-in can BPM consultants and champions hope to see their projects succeed.

4. Being agile (enough)

Business challenges change rapidly. While BPM might be brought in to solve one problem, it’s important that projects can pivot to try and solve another.

For instance, a business might try and use BPM to reduce costs, only to discover that halfway through it needs to focus on closing more business and increasing revenue.

BPM project owners need to be ready and shift their goals to constantly align with changing business objectives. Otherwise, they risk losing executive buy-in and eventually, their budget or contract.

5. Setting a core KPI

There’s nothing worse than for a BPM project to not have a clear success/failure metric. Often, BPM project managers shy away from assigning a firm KPI because it makes it clear when a BPM project fails.

But it also makes it clear when it succeeds. By setting a clear KPI (usually a core business objective), BPM processes can clearly articulate their value in a way that businesses understand.

BPM owners should be able to say:

“My BPM project has improved [core business metric] by XX percent, delivering [dollar figure] of additional value for the business while only costing  [cost of the project].”

If this sort of clear-cut success/failure parameter is set out, it becomes much easier to justify further optimization processes.

Wrap up

Business process management is experiencing a resurgence. There’s more enthusiasm for BPM, getting buy-in is easier, and there’s just more need as new technology is available for businesses to optimize previously un-optimizable processes.

But that doesn’t mean it’s without its challenges.

BPM practitioners still face challenges around buy-in from executives and end-users, conveying the holistic view of BPM, and being dynamic enough to respond to a changing business landscape.

These challenges aren’t going anywhere. But with a well-run and well-executed BPM strategy, overcoming them is just a matter of time.

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