It’s increasingly common in organizations the need to work focused on structured processes and practices, whether these are employed in the production or support stages. However, organizations and managers face constant difficulties throughout the BPM implementation phases, often due to cultural or technical aspects, when they take on the challenge of transforming the organization’s structure into a process-oriented one.
Frequent questions arise at this point, such as: What are the current deficiencies and difficulties? Where to begin with? What support tools to employ?
In this context, few managers are aware of the existence of practices and structured methods that can be applied in the Business Process Management project, also known as BPM. According to the CBOK (Common Body of Knowledge for Process Management) guide, BPM is a methodology for designing, modeling, executing, simulating, and continuously monitoring and improving organizations’ business processes, whether automated or not, in order to achieve consistent results that are well aligned with a company’s strategic objectives.
The six phases of BPM implementation
Over the years, we have arrived at a support structure divided into six essential steps to leverage this transformation in organizations, which I will explain below:
1. Planning and identification (As Is);
2. Process analysis (To Be);
3. Design (To Be);
4. Simulate flows and check adherence (To Be);
5. Monitoring and controling;
6. Refinement (flow improvement).
Phase 1 – Planning and Identification (As-Is)
During the first of the BPM implementation phases, the current situation of the organization’s processes (As-Is) is identified and defined, as well as the key users involved. It’s fundamental that these users participate in this phase of surveying and understanding the processes since they are a rich source of information about how the processes are executed on a daily basis, as well as about their potentialities and vulnerabilities.
As support tools, inputs to support the next steps can also be gathered at this stage, such as the hierarchical structure of the organization, roles, responsibilities, reporting practices, performed audits, performance indicators, and strategic priorities.
The final artifact of this step, in addition to listing the current structure of the organization’s processes and key users, also needs to relate the diagnosis that addresses the main problems inherent in these processes and current policies. A flow chart with activities, average times for each activity, and those involved (internal and external) should be made available.
Read also: What is As-is/To-be process mapping?
Phase 2 – Analysis and improvement opportunities (To Be)
In the second phase of BPM implementation, the bottlenecks, failures, and other process deficiencies are already known. Based on these inputs, each of the processes should be analyzed and improvements aligned to the strategic objectives of the organization should be proposed, thus designing a new version of each of the processes (To Be).
Improvement opportunities are the key to success at this point, and they are usually related to work methods, people, machines and equipment, raw materials, customers/suppliers, physical environment, among others.
Another point that must be considered in the analysis of the To-Be process is the possibility of automating it with a BPM tool. And if this is a possibility, the adequacy of the process model must take into account the characteristics of the chosen tool with the objective of making the best use of these characteristics.
Phase 3 – Flow prioritization and automation
As a pillar for the strategic objectives resulting from the implementation of process-oriented management, it’s important to understand that this new paradigm often requires a cultural reexamination of the organization.
One strategy to make the whole organization engage with BPM implementation is to start with the simplest processes, which bring some operational gain or simplify daily tasks, and which have adhesion and involvement of managers. It can be dangerous to start with the company’s larger or more complex processes since employees are still adapting and becoming familiar with the methodology and tools.
For the automation of the flows, the ideal is to use a suite that goes beyond the simple modeling of the flowchart, i.e., a suite that allows the systemic execution of the steps with electronic forms and Document Management (ECM). Yet, in the definition of the automation strategy, you should verify:
- What are the relations and integration needs of the flows with other internal systems in the organization, or even external ones;
- How will the control work generate evidence and audits;
- Mechanisms for generating automated reports and identifying bottlenecks;
- Version control of processes and documents;
- Form of user training and dissemination;
- Implantation and assisted support.
Phase 4 – Simulation of flows and adherence check
In the fourth phase, it should be possible to put the execution of the selected processes into action in the form of a workflow, as well as the definition resulting from the previous phases.
With the automation of the selected processes and their due structuring in a BPM (or BPMS) solution, it’s essential to run simulations/pilots with key users to verify the adherence of the improvements, and if they are aligned with the strategic objectives of the organization, and to make the necessary adjustments.
Finally, after key users approved it, the training and qualification of other users involved must be structured, as well as the deployment planning and assisted support.
Phase 5 – Monitoring, control, and analysis of results
In this stage, the processes are monitored by means of performance indicators and reports that make it possible to identify and automate process bottlenecks, in addition to supporting future audits.
It’s important that in this instant there is an assisted accompaniment of trained professionals to help the users in relation to eventual problems arising from the automation of the flow.
The most commonly used indicators to support reports analyzing the results of process automation are: average time to complete activities, the cost to complete activities, the average time to complete processes, and satisfaction reports.
Phase 6: Refinement (automation improvement and expansion)
Also called continuous improvement, the last phase should be carried out based on the analysis and inputs generated by the previous stage. It’s important that a process change committee is established, which should hold periodic meetings to monitor indicators and suggestions for improvement, as well as to create processes for registration and treatment of process changes.
This committee should also maintain process version control and, in addition to improving the processes already in place, seek to identify new processes suitable for automation.
To conclude: the challenges
The main factor to guarantee success or not in the BPM implementation phases is the attention to the cultural aspects of the organization, as the father of modern management Peter Ducker used to say: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”.
This legendary quote expresses quite clearly the biggest challenge of implementing process-oriented management, so if managers and process experts are not very sensible and attentive to cultural aspects of each organization, the strategy, regardless of what it is, will certainly not be effective.
However, a strategy designed in an environment that enables shorter implementation cycles, with well-defined phases in a program with a focus on constant measurement of results and continuous improvement, tends to be a key factor in reducing risk.
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