Business Process Management: practical tips for a successful approach (2/2)


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Roberto Hoeve
Posted by Roberto Hoeve on Jun 4, 2012

Business Process Management

Welcome to our blog. This is an archived post, most of our knowledge and advice remain valid but some material or links may be outdated. Click here to see our most recent posts.

Recently a blog was posted with five practical tips to benefit from business process management as an organization. This blog is the continuation of the first one and discusses five new and interesting practical tips which can make the difference in order to improve your business.

Let the business process drive ICT investments

Many times ICT investments have impact on process design and business decisions. Based on numerous external factors an organization decides to adapt certain ICT and as a consequence business processes are adjusted to align them with the chosen solution. From this perspective adapting ICT is a starting point and an organization adjusts to it. Another approach is to find a way in which ICT can support current business processes. From a business point of view processes are set and those processes are the base for ICT investments and developments. In this situation the processes are leading and drive ICT. Of course, ICT developments and -innovations are used to inspire and improve the business processes but they should not be the reason to adjust strategic objectives and a good way of working.

Figure 1: The business (processes) drive ICT

Invest in process models

A common question in the field of Business Process Management is; "why do we need to create process models”? Most of the time process models are used when they are just created but disappear after a period of time and a lot of effort is needed when an organization tries to maintain them. In general it is a challenge to capture and manage processes models in an organized way. But despite these negative aspects process models are important. Process models are concrete, provide insights and serve as a basis for designing, controlling and improving processes. Furthermore, process models improve and support the communication with stakeholders. Having a straightforward, clear and graphic process model helps to understand the different views on the reality and is very useful when analyzing the situation and building a shared understanding.

Create meaningful and smart models

When the decision is made to model processes it is important to understand the goal and model type that are applicable. For what purpose are you modeling? Will the process model be used as a manual for new employees, or are you creating an overview for management? The answer on this question is crucial in order to select an appropriate model type. In some cases an interaction model creates added value while in other situations a lane model or workflow model can realize the predefined goal best. Besides understanding the goal and model type it is important to understand what level of detail is needed. In many situations it is not needed to create detailed work instructions, high over processflows are in that case sufficient. A description of the transfer points is good enough for grip, control and working arrangements. Most professionals in the workplace know how to achieve the agreed outcome; they do not need a detailed description. In the end it is necessary that the created process model is in line with the predefined goal and with the expectations of the stakeholder(s); in that case the process model is fit for use.

 Figure 2: A process model is meaningful when it is “Fit for use”

Use conventions

Guidelines and agreements concerning the way to model processes are important. They ensure a level of consistency and make sure that process models have a uniform look and a certain level of quality. Especially when many people in an organization are working on processmodels it is useful to have enterprise-wide agreements. However, do not make the mistake to end up in endless discussions about the conventions with various parties in the organization. Conventions are important but should not be a goal in itself. The challenge is to deal with the requirements and concerns from different departments (risk and IT for example) concerning the content and lay out of the process models. Always keep in mind that conventions and process models are just an aspect of BPM. BPM is a way of thinking and is about improving your organization as a whole. Process models are needed to achieve these improvements since they make it possible to communicate about issues and are useful while creating a shared understanding but are not a goal in itself.

Communicate and collaborate

It is important to communicate the significance of BPM in an organization clearly. Managers as well as employees on the work floor have to understand the benefits and need to collaborate in order to achieve successes. Communication helps to raise awareness and ensure broad support in the organization. Communicating successes helps too. Sharing positive BPM experiences in the organization provides a constructive effect; it encourages departments to look at the benefits of BPM critically.

Summary

The success or failure of Business Process Management is often related to the support given by the management and how strategy and vision are served by the proposed BPM initiatives. The presented tips in this blog and the previous one help managers to make the right choices and communicate a company-wide success.

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