Sunday, March 10, 2013

Top Ten Biggest Challenges to BPM Initiatives

 BPM has already gained a lot of attention within organizations in the past years. However, there is still a long way to cover to anchor BPM in the organization as an essential part of 'the road to operational excellence' or even “the trail to value differentiator”,  what are those biggest challenges to any BPM initiative in an organization?

1. Not getting Executive endorsement 

Many key business processes underpin business capabilities, just as a well set of capabilities underpin business’s unique competency, thus, it’s strategic effort need get executive endorsement, 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.

However, senior executives have many things on their “To Do” list, how to manage a solid business case can be another challenging thing to do.

2. Lack of Business Case

A business Case provides the description and reason for starting an BPM initiative to articulate and align with VSSP (Vision-Strategy-Structure-People-Processes).

What is the current process state? What are the concerns with the current state (costs, inefficiencies, top line impacts etc). What is the proposed process state? What is the cost, time, others resources needed to get to the proposed state. It’s about he financial impact of the proposed state (in terms of ROI or the expense ratio). A solid business case can also become a base to develop a BPM roadmap as the next challenging step.  

3. Not Develop a Road Map 

Develop a comprehensive roadmap provides an effective roadmap for the (BPM) trip an organization will make. Imagine without one, how might the trip turn to be?

 If there is no guide people will walk but to where? If there is a shouting guide that cannot explain where we go, people refuse to walk. Especially for the complex BPM effort, a understandable roadmap results in more systematic planning and milestone setting. A clear customer centric roadmap can also avoid the thorny IT-led route as the next challenge.

4.  Implementing IT-led BPM 

At industry era, both EA and BPM are easily get caught by over-complexity, inflexibility and redundancy. Every business process that is not impacting the customer in a positive trend should be brought out or clearly re -engineered.

Customer satisfaction index is important, as it is an overall KPI that is mandatory to be maximized. Different channels for achieving it should be used. Innovation & technology breakthrough are the clear differentiators in the BPM world. Traditional BPM might also be too inward-looking, outside-in customer-centric BPM can fit better in business purposes in competitive business environment

5.  Too Slow to React to the Business Change

Change is accelerated in today’s business dynamic, how should BPM adapt to such transformation? At the organization level and its value channels, all processes should be observed, controlled and optimized as a whole, not separated . Bottlenecks should be brought out and every task with a negative client service impact should be eliminated and its parental process should be re- modeled.

Real time performance dashboard KPIs data could be analyzed for the future re-model of the entire business processes chain ....reprogram the DNA if necessary ! Adaptive Control/Actions of processes should be on board. Without this, BPM is just words......

6. Gap between the modeling and the implementation phases

Once the business processes have been mapped and reviewed the organization goes “back to normal' : the process maps become part of the 'historical' archive and the alignment with the evolving requirements from the operations gets lost, that being said, there’s gap between modeling and implementation phases.

For initiatives that go forward from publication of paper process maps to setup of a run-time environment, the methodology indeed becomes the instrument to orchestrate work and collect data for analyzing processes. A BPM initiative is frequently launched as an inevitable step in the migration of a new application which requires an important review of the business processes. . 

7. Seen as a One Time Project

Managing a process requires constant attention to throughput (leveling and balancing workload across instances and task performers). The owner has to be sensitive to the need for improvement, BPM shouldn’t be seen as one time project.

It’s a "continuous" journey. So should BPM become the instrument to let business learn how to look for operational improvement by analyzing processes; not only in case of issues but also by structurally evaluating the BPM library towards the actual situation. This activity will induce a critical/questioning attitude towards the processes and can be the foundation for continuous improvement.

8. Not Investing in Staff

For any project or business as a whole, people are still the weakest link, how to invest in staff is always a long term goal; and from BPM perspective, the following roles are critical: 

• BPM Project manager - day to day responsibility for running the BPM Project -> reporting to the steering group
Senior USER ( Process Owner) – focused on the business objectives of the project
• SMEs( Subject Matter Experts) from the line-of –business area – having in depth knowledge of the operational mechanics and deep appreciation of the macro –level business objectives ( roles per major business area)
Process Architect ( Lead Business Analyst ) - will provide the analytical rigor and techniques of the project .He/she will guide SMEs for process improvement
• Additional BAs/Process Consultants may be necessary
IT Experts - at least one or two are needed to advise on opportunities to leverage and re-use existing IT assets. They need detailed understanding of the capabilities of the Selected BPM technology and experience of integrating multiple systems
SQ (Service Quality) Expert

9. Lack of CoE BPM

BPM Center of Excellence (CoE) is the key of a successful BPM project approach, it takes the top executive sponsorship for the creation of BPM Center of Excellence and a BPM project team to be highly committed to the organization re- engineering and change.Following are the key aspects in CoE:

Comprises a group of committed individuals who focus on how the process of the firm drive bottom –line Profitability & Performance.
Responsible for developing common principles, language, frameworks and methodologies for process development and process architecture management
Delivers overall process architecture ( key processes interaction across different business units , different product life cycle phases and company value chains)
Well versed in BPR ( business processes re-engineering)
• Business Systems Manager ( acts as the primary interface between business unit & IT department)  

10.  Poorly Defined Measures of Success 

ROIs for BPM typically quit shortly after the 'go-live" date. Whereas the first BPM initiative requires a lot of infrastructure, extending BPM from the first process to other processes/functional units requires a lot less effort providing the benefits of BPM are seen.

And the other biggest challenge for BPM is to become an un-ignorable 'instrument of control' in the strife for operational excellence. As financial results (P&L, variance analyses,...) and KPIs have already become logic components for business control.

Therefore the adequate governance and right set of metrics will help measure not only the process effectiveness but also efficiency, to ensure process both doing the right things and doing things right.

From rocky road to bumpy ride, BPM  touches the mighty waters, hit by social wind, it has also to avoid pitfalls and overcome such big challenges in order to reach process wonderland.


The author of this article should reference the original source. The text from this article comes straight from pages 20-23 of the Ultimate Guide to Business Process Management by Theodore Panagacos. The book is available on

This is marvelous document - I can agree everything here. I have been implementing one BPMS for organization (sales) and I wanted to continue in Order-Delivery-billing are as well, but organization wanted to go with ERP instead. I had opportunity to lead process design area, and what happened - high level processes were approved - and after that, everything was forget as this document was defining - work continued with ERP implementing thinking that it would give new processes for org. It has took now several years, but that has not happened yet.

The information shared here are really the biggest challenges faced by the Organizations in implementing in BPM implementation. It would be really helpful if someone shares the ideas to overcome it.

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