How strategic are your BPM initiatives? 4 questions to ask yourself

Gone are the days when process excellence was just about standardization, cost cutting or quality. In today’s businesses, process is about enabling business strategy. So how sure are you that your BPM program stacks up?

Here are four questions to ask yourself, suggested by Charles Farina, Business Process Improvement Manager at Essroc Cement:

Question #1: Are your BPM initiatives making a significant and measureable impact on your company performance?

All too often BPM initiatives can end up as an exercise in documentation. Processes are mapped and standardized. Then they’re filed away in a big binder of good intentions destined to gather dust for the remainder of existence. It may have consumed significant time, effort and resources to produce but the end benefit for the company is negligible.

BPM initiatives need to have a significant business impact and produce hard benefits that can be quantified. Sure, you should get a lot of soft benefits along with your initiative as well, but your first toll gate should be whether you can really wrap your hands around what you’re expecting to achieve from all that hard work.

Question #2: Are your BPM initiatives sustained and sustainable?

BPM is not just a one off thing. We don’t ever really "finish" BPM because there will always be areas for improvement, automation and change. Equally, when the original leader of your BPM initiative leaves or moves onto the next thing – does everything go back to the way it was before?

The only way that BPM will be successful in the long run is by embedding capability within the organization and ensuring that employees are engaged and bought into the new processes and ways of doing thing. If not, you’re achieving nothing more than the equivalent of producing a bunch of unused process maps because the process is not living, breathing, evolving and adding value.

Question #3: Are your BPM initiatives focused on delivering value to the customer?

There are always lots of opportunities for improvement within an organization. But who will they benefit most? Those initiatives that focus on delivering customer value are more likely to make a more significant impact on revenue and long term business performance than those that focus merely on internal operations.

Growing, acquiring and keeping customers is a key part of any successful business – make sure your BPM efforts are focused on supporting that.

Question #4: Do your BPM initiatives have senior leadership support?

It can be difficult to keep your executive leadership teams focused on BPM. They’ve got near term earning pressures and an entire business to keep an eye on. But you can bet your bottom dollar that if it’s clear your BPM program is helping them get to where they want to go, you’ll have their support in making your efforts a reality. So if your senior leaders don’t buy into your BPM plans, are you sure that your initiatives are really supporting the strategic direction of the company?

With thanks to Charles Farina from Essroc who inspired this article!

What are other questions you should be asking yourself to make sure that you’re focusing your BPM efforts in the right areas?