Over the last few weeks, I have had a variety of conversations with clients that have centered around the scope for the term BPM. I think we all agree that BPM is not purely a technology – but how far does it go.
BPM – The Discipline
Forrester sees BPM as a broad framework of methods, approaches, techniques and technologies that support organizational change, value optimization and ongoing performance improvement. While some see BPM as a narrow technical approach, Forrester regards BPM as including a wide range of improvement methods such as Lean and Six Sigma, along with customer-centric (outside-in) engagement approaches and organizational change management – each one of these levers ties back to a flexible and adaptable enterprise architecture that implements an evolving business strategy. Such an all-encompassing approach can help focus on strategic priorities, as well as opportunities to both differentiate the value proposition, and sharpen the competitive edge.
While some would argue that Lean and Six Sigma are separate – that they are “in the business” – our research data suggests that the most successful BPM initiatives are run by the business, for the business and are of the business (to paraphrase Lincoln). Something like just 20% of BPM process improvement initiatives are run out of IT. Indeed, I would go a little further than that – BPM initiatives run out of IT are just not sustainable in the long term. If you are charged with maintaining a BPM program from within IT (perhaps running a BPM CoE), then one of your primary tasks is to a) identify and b) work with any Lean/Six Sigma programs that are out there.
At the upcoming IT Forum in Las Vegas (May 26-28), I will be collaborating with Bill Band on a piece around using the customer experience to drive breakthrough process improvement, and with it, business performance. When you think about it, satisfying the needs of customers is what all business is about (OK you could argue that governmental organizations don’t have customers, they deal with the needs of citizens, but you get my drift).
In the first part of our presentation we will present research to support the view that improving the outcomes delivered to customers adds dollars to the bottom line of the business. Then I will switch to a theme dear to my heart -- that Business Process is at the heart of all significant Customer Experience efforts. And that comes down to:
How We Do What We Do -- Of course, the relationship between the Customer Experience, and how you do things, is pretty clear. I put this in the category of “Doing Things Right” -- i.e., the way in which the processes of the firm work and the employee behaviors.
What We Do -- But in order to deliver compelling customer outcomes, it’s also a question of “Doing The Right Things.” Which is about the business offering -- the services of the organization and the components that make it up. The business capabilities are, of course, a better way of thinking about this rather than the org chart (which is what so many folks seem to do ... decomposition of the org chart as a way of understanding processes).
Why We Do It -- And then it comes back to why we do this, and how it implements organizational strategy and the impact/benefit to the overall brand.
As some of you may already be aware, I joined Forrester Research a little over a month ago. Some will wonder why, after many years of plowing the independent field, I decided to join the competition. Well, I don’t feel I have joined the competition.
I know it sounds a little sickly, but I feel like I have finally come home. I got so used to working by myself, I forgot what it was like to have colleagues. I really came here to help build a business that caters for the needs of Business Process Professionals. I have known Connie Moore for about 17 years and we have been erstwhile collaborators throughout that time. Clay and I had been exploring partnership opportunities before he joined Forrester.
My first experience inside Forrester was to attend “Starting Blocks” - a 3-day program where the Executive Team come in one at a time, to meet with all new employees that had joined the organization since the last program. What a fantastic eye-opener that was. Here we had the thinkers and strategists sitting down and engaging in a dialogue - exploring what they were doing and listening to feedback - quite an unusual behavior, and a reflection of the culture of the organization.
Now I work in Connie’s team, bringing my own perspectives and capabilities - complementing the skills already here. My research focus could be summarized as follows:
“I am specializing in the methods, approaches, frameworks, tools, techniques and technologies of Business Process Management (BPM), Business Process Improvement, Business Transformation and Organisational Change; with a special emphasis on an outcome-based, customer-focused approaches.”