Friday, February 22, 2013

BPM’s Best Way: Top-Down or Bottom-Up


There’s about 70% of BPM projects fail statistically, and there are varies of causes to make such project “out of control”, so what is the best way to manage BPM? Top-down, Bottom-Up, Middle-Out, System-wide  Inside-out or Outside-In?

1.    Top Down Approach 

Theoretically, you start top down as you have to understand business objectives and understand key capabilities to achieve the business strategy. With this you build the processes that can plug and play into delivery + support of the business to consumers or businesses.

  • The choice to manage your organization by process is what some people call being strategic to perceive big picture first.  That is the meaning of top-down. Without the inclusion of a “top down” framework, there is no consensus on what pieces to look for, which pieces are more important, or how to interpret the overall solution.
  • So top down initiatives are as some kind of guide for the (BPM) trip an organization will make.  If there is no guide people will walk but where to? If there is a shouting guide that cannot explain where we go, people refuse to walk. Especially for the complex problems with a top down approach results in more holistic thinking and planning. 

2. Bottom Up Approach 

But in reality, are the businesses all over the map with their value propositions, internal process maturities, what the market is doing or forcing on the business, financial pressures etc.... Thus, it can't always afford top down or to wait for top down to be done. As top-down alone is just a guide, so bottom up is needed to walk the talk. The key is to balance gratuitous central control vs. renegade business unit .

  • Start small, think big: Putting aside those organizations that have built top down and have the strategic roadmap, however, not everybody has the luxury of starting with top down nor the luxury of time so the focus shifts to tactical problems,  thus bottom up begins. Majority of an organization's processes are fairly simple in nature—the impetus being a request from an end-user—User A needs this, the request needs to go to User B for approval, and once it's approved,  it's sent to User C to fulfill. Bottom up with smaller department wins allows for users to get used to a system, provide feedback, leverage best practices and make improvements before moving enterprise wide. Not to mention providing some immediate ROI. 
  • Innovation is key factor from a bottom up approach: Sometimes fixing a local and tactical problem reveals a new and innovative way for the business as a whole,  process innovation is emerging trend in BPM efforts. 

3.  Mixed, System-Wide, Inside-out & Outside-In Approach 

For analyzing the problem, top-down; for customization of the BPMS installation, bottom-up. Or top down is to gain an overview of the operation, structure and processes. Follow this with bottom up to understand how operations currently happen and then a mixture of bottom up with top down to understand perspectives on how operations should happen:

  • Mixed approach: Many organizations do them simultaneously as BPM solutions and BPMS platform's deployment usually give each other context. That is, these efforts are a discovery process into the organization itself and so you need the macro and the micro views. The process model(s) as you're drilling down from 20,000' to 200' inevitably make themselves known and that, in turn, iterative and incremental here, helps you build those tactical solutions that build out to that strategic end-state.  In fact, the organizations take parallel paths to have better success rate for BPM: top down and bottom up, and learn how to bring them together at certain points (middle-out)  to measure, align/deploy, and recalibrate
  • Top-Down is one way to look at things, but a better label might be 'system-wide', it's critical to account for cross-cutting concerns (master data, governance, value chain integration, etc.). A 'bottom-up'  approach might be parochial by design, lacks system-wide perspective; it leads to process silos that make future integration more difficult. 
  • 'Outside-In' which is pushed by a whole community as an effort to focus on customer interactions or touch points?  Or 'Inside-Out' which can be understood as looking at it from a business management perspective. 
  • Business Transparency: Shall we approach it from ALL SIDES at all times? In principle that is correct, but the best term to describe it is BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY with adaptability / interoperability. What are the concepts that define the processes to be executed?
Top-down: business objectives, value streams
Inside-out: operational targets and process goals
Outside-In: customer perception and experience
Bottom-Up: people knowledge and innovation

 
Weather there’s best way or not, but always have the right way to do BPM: All along the way, make progress using your expertise to translate between the lines and ensure you exceed objectives while providing future analysis that will give additional real return on BPM investment financially and motivationally. 

Metaphorically, the puzzle analogy is a pretty good description of the difficulty we face in BPM. The puzzle pieces are processes, information and data that an organization has been collecting for years. Each month, new statistical information, data or processes are collected and analyzed, creating additional puzzle pieces. Sometimes the data collected will contradict the data from another source, and because it can be interpreted in different ways, there will always be disagreement. Adaptability/ interoperability are major concerns and the real nut to crack. Putting a puzzle together requires trying different pieces, being flexible and willing to put a piece aside to find another more appropriate piece. There are different areas of the puzzle that will come together sooner than other parts. An organization that has the ability to learn and adapt at several levels will move the whole BPM transformation forward.


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