Saturday, November 1, 2014

Why is BPM such a hard sell to C-Level executives?

Although BPM has been embraced all the way to the top in forward-looking organizations, we often heard that BPM is such a hard sell to C-suite, and there’re the tales of lackluster enthusiasm in the C-Suite abound. What’s the niche point to sell BPM, and what can you learn that will help create a compelling message for top executives?

What you sell to the C-level is VALUE, not a list of 'generic' benefits from a book. It´s a hard sell since most BPM practitioners aren´t delivering any value on a strategic level. You sell them a strategic change that leads to some significant improvement in the business, the real tangible unique benefits to that business at that point in time. BPM is a tool you may choose to deliver that, or rather the name you give to a set of tools and methodologies you use to deliver that. However, in many cases, BPM isn't embraced at a strategic level within the organization, thus, it does not produce strategic value. Therefore, it is perceived as having no strategic value. The underlying issue is "Value" and the Value Management combined with process and capability is the key to BPM success.

BPM means change, change takes courage. Why? Because embracing any kind of management philosophy - particularly one that's transformational in nature - is something that only a small segment of the overall business world will be likely to find attractive and be in a position to consider. Wishing it were different is pointless. It is just a side effect of the natural bell-curves you see everywhere when looking at populations. The visionaries and innovators leaped on BPM 'top down' and were prepared to make sacrifices and tradeoffs to drive big change throughout their organizations; the other 90%+ of the business population won't do the same. 

BPM adoption cannot be done disparately from cultural change within a company. C-level can be "difficult" customers. We know that BPM introduces a structured and systematic way of working. It also links process owners together. The problems at the C-level at times need to be diagnosed from the psychological perspective. The role of change management and intensive training must not be underestimated. The number of organizations has embraced BPM 'top down'. Those remaining are more conservative or resistant to the idea of BPM as an end-to-end management discipline. In BPM as in so many things, the working environment for change agents is basically one huge 'battle of ideas'. BPM is one idea that has to be trained, beefed up, and then 'let loose' in the organization to do battle with other ideas. Those other ideas may not compete with BPM directly; but they compete for the budget, attention, and so on. 

"Digitizing" the BPM thinking is a must; because it brings not just automation with improved efficiency but real time measurement which allows real empowerment of people and this opens a new door. So it is up to new pioneers/challengers to create the supporting software that addresses these issue bringing simplicity and power to the business in their language….quickly and delivering tangible added value to the business. BPM will become relevant to the C-level when it contributes to getting relevant performance issues on their agenda proactively. A mechanism for doing just that is what BPM is about, and this is where you need process architecture. Building this will demonstrate ”how” the company works, from top-to-bottom and wall-to-wall. Where this is achieved you provide a solid reference for performance indicators, risk identification, and cross-functional value creation. Then it makes sense to the C-level.

BPM is a tool to drive transformation. BPM is a thinking tool (a philosophy or a strategy) or business improvement tool that may or may not involve the use of specific technology tools to analyze, formalize, co-ordinate and audit the way that works get done. BPM should be an adjective that defines a way of thinking about the things that we do. To be sure, lots of tools have become associated with BPM, just like there are lots of tools that support the agile philosophy. However, the tools are not the philosophy. Some organizations embrace the tool itself as a way to manage themselves top-to-bottom, end-to-end; but for most, you have to sell a specific outcome. BPM is one way to achieve certain outcomes. Just like management within various functional lines of business deliver the "what", BPM manages the continuous improvement of the "how", cross-functionally and within a strategic view of optimizing value.

Dare2Change means Dare 2innovate. In order to transform successfully, businesses need a different attitude. Therefore, BPMs in combination with an Agile Process Application Development Platform can drive better results and, therefore, helps BPMs project becomes successful. Measure what you want to change, show the results to C-level, engage them so C-level will promote BPMs in future Projects!! Some further considerations (1) Too many BPM tools are too complex and has no or limited business use in mind! - It's very important introducing the right tools, (2) almost all companies do have BPM (or processes) as part of its strategy - of course, there will be an executive sponsorship on C-level, (3) Sell the vision, but deliver quick wins - BPM has a Fast ROI if you work with the right level (4) BPM deliver many business promises - Involving the business side is crucial - Why should IT introduce BPM?, it's a business discipline, 5) Use business partners - they have an outstanding insight into projects and industries.

BPMs has a huge impact and requires the right Governance (ownership of C-level); well align  their IT and Business Units, Project Management, Change Management. For these reasons, BPMs projects are costly and demand a lot of time (12-18 months). So the speed of change is not present and ROI not feasible as results are not clear. Organizations should start with the right Process, measure the impact of BPMs. Most companies are not able to measure the impact of a BPMs project. So if BPMs fails, an organization should wonder why.

The well-blended approach is the best fit. BPM needs top down support, but you can take  a 'bottom up' adoption approach as well; driven correctly, it can still deliver really amazing business benefits by picking off high-value opportunities, learning lessons in those projects and programs, and applying the lessons elsewhere. Maybe the incremental approach can ultimately lead to a broader impact as more parts of the organization are exposed to the benefits of cross-process knowledge for identifying real root causes. And this is essentially a change in how you approach setting strategy (the C-suites) and the follow-through execution. So when it comes to managing change from the perspective of strategy or execution, managing change by setting expectations with different stakeholders appropriately is essential to ensure the 'battle of ideas' is done best with a 'blended approach' - tactical wins, combined with a gradual build-up of practice, stakeholder engagement, and value realization is the one most likely to succeed in most places. 

More importantly, BPM is not a one-time project, but a tough journey that the senior executives should understand and navigate through, because processes underpin business capabilities, and capability underpin strategy execution, so it’s worth the effort to gain top-down buy-in and bottom up adoption.



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