The APQC Blog

Overcome Three Common Barriers to BPM

According to a recent blog post, The top three barriers to effective BPM,  that Chris Taylor wrote on SuccessfulWorkplace.com, there are generally three big challenges associated with implementing business process management (BPM) initiatives.

First, Taylor said many organizations struggle with determining who owns process. He notes that there are two parts to this problem: 1) not having a central owner, and 2) having too many owners. Initiatives move more slowly without a central authority who can create awareness, decide on scope and technology, and plan where to start. Multi-owners create bottlenecks.

There is an easy fix: Have a single executive with signature authority as the leader for budget, resources, and time lines. This helps determine the shape of the initiative, so choose someone based on who benefits most from the initiative. The default structure is that IT owns anything involving systems architecture and the business units owns anything that involves the work performed. There are circumstances that override that structure, but they should be carefully considered. Finally, there must be senior executive ownership that ensures correct commitments and follow through.

Another challenge, according to Taylor, is determining where to begin BPM. Many times, organizations have pockets of excellence where there are some processes in operation. Taylor says that finding the right starting point that includes using the existing collective knowledge (in people’s heads or fragmented documents) is key. Taylor said, “It may look like a mess, but it is working to some degree, and attempts to change the wiring may cause the business to stumble.” A good approach is to choose one of the standard frameworks (such as APQC’s process classification framework—the PCF) that allows the organization to move forward with a clear scope.

The final challenge is determining which technology to use. According to Taylor, BPM initiatives need centralized data storage. The key is creating a space that allows everyone to work from the same source. Further, it’s important to match the tools to the audience. If the focus is highly technical, a complex tool may be needed. If the focus is less detailed, less specific tools may be more appropriate.

Are you familiar with these three challenges? If so, which steps did you take to resolve them? If you haven’t resolved them, what are your sticking points that need guidance?