The four worst reasons to use BPM (and three of the best)
BPM is enjoying a golden era. As an industry, it’s going to be a $13 billion market in 3 years, according to this Statista projection. There are dozens of BPM software providers, and thousands of process experts helping companies move closer to total efficiency.
Today, the questions from business leaders are not if they should use BPM but what kind of BPM. BPM experts no longer need to educate the C Suite about the benefits of business process management–everyone is already convinced.
But is it possible that BPM has spread its influence too much? Has it become so mainstream to the extent it has started losing the power and effectiveness?
BPM can be like rocket fuel that has a dramatic effect on the productivity of a business, but if you pump that fuel into the wrong tank, you’ll have a lot of disappointment on your hands.
Here are 4 reasons a company shouldn’t jump into BPM.
Reason 1: To Jump on the Digitization Bandwagon
If you ask any CIO to name the top three priorities, you can bet your last dollar that Digital Transformation will be one of them. As a part of moving the entire company to a digital platform, BPM seems like another item on a checklist to cross off as a part of the journey.
But engaging with BPM because you have to is not the reason to do it. Earlier, companies came desperately searching for BPM because they needed the benefits of efficiency and productivity. If BPM is simply implemented because other digitized companies also do it, it will always lag behind.
For BPM to be successful, the leadership of a company must feel an intense desire to see results out of it. If they engage with it merely because it helps in the digital transformation process, it will produce lackluster results.
Reason 2: Because BPM and Automation Will Fix Everything
Perhaps due to a ton of hype created from misleading marketing, or maybe because decision makers are looking for a quick digital win, some companies choose BPM solutions under the assumption that one particular software solution will fix everything that’s wrong at the company.
BPM can bring in some helpful side effects like the increased transparency of responsibility, reduced blame, cost savings, and reduced defects. But expecting it to be the single change agent that turns a company into a dream is shortsighted.
To tell the truth, BPM software will neither fix all your organizational woes nor will it fix all your process problems. No BPM software is perfect. There will always be limitations, exceptions, and certain product and design decisions made by someone else that you think is a bad idea.
BPM is a great tool to help a company reach impressive heights, but it’s no silver bullet. BPM should be approached with soberness and a focus on improving extremely specific metrics.
Reason 3: To Solve an Immediate Problem
BPM has the potential to provide a lot of important benefits to a company, freeing up resources, time, and operational funds. It can reshape the very way a business operates, trimming out all the excess fat and speeding things up.
But it won’t do it in a few seconds. Or days, for that matter. BPM takes time.
While the development of automated processes is getting easier and faster with new tools, BPM is still a discipline and methodology, not a technology. Like a garden vegetable, it must be planted in fertile ground, be given plenty of attention at the start, and continuously managed in order to produce results.
While some immediate chaos might subside after implementing a BPM solution, the full force of BPM is a culture change that takes months to develop and years to find deep roots.
BPM requires a shift in the very mindset of employees. Even when systems are in place to ensure that processes run smoothly, employees must use the system and grow comfortable with it. If they don’t trust the system, you’ll end up with a lot of processes happening “off the books”–like the very real shadow IT war.
Reason 4: Because a CxO Picked a Random BPM Solution
There are more than 200 BPM solutions available today. You can’t blame anyone for not wanting to try them all before choosing the best one.
The first BPM solution might be the one with the best ad, pricing, website, reviews, or simply the top result in Google.
Oftentimes it isn’t even the CIO or someone from the IT team who chooses the first option. It’s either what was handed down from generation to generation, or the first thing someone found when they really needed to try something quick.
Even for modern cloud-based BPM solutions, they’re not all made equal. Costs, user experience, and support all vary significantly across the industry. The SaaS market needs to be carefully evaluated, or you can fall for tricks like vendor lock-in.
Okay, so those were all bad situations to implement a BPM solution. What about the best reasons in our current business and technology climate to deeply engage with Business Process Management?
Reason 1: The AI Robots Are Actually Coming
While we’ve heard the warnings for years, this time it seems like it is for real. Twenty years ago, a shift to BPM was a luxury that large companies could afford in order to get an edge over the competition.
Today, there’s a tidal wave of automation coming from all angles. To ignore BPM now is to chain your organization down to the ground and hope to withstand the tsunami. To embrace BPM is to move to an agile position of being able to ride the waves as they come.
BPM as a methodology leads easily into AI and automated tools that will soon be commonplace. If an organization continues to put off basic BPM principles, they will be so far behind that they will not be able to withstand the coming onslaught.
Reason 2: There’s a Shift in BPM
Until recently, BPM has largely been an inside-out approach that tackles identified problem areas to streamline the overall working of an organization. Recently, there has been a shift in thinking. No longer does BPM need to start with a “what’s broken?” question, but it is quickly shifting to “what’s possible?”.
It’s a clear shift from problem-focused BPM to opportunity-driven BPM. As these new use cases develop further, BPM will continue to advance and deliver results we aren’t even aware of yet.
Reason 3: Citizen Developers Are Taking a Stand
The low-code platform, and (now) no-code platforms are changing the face of how BPM happens.
Just the fact that citizen developers (business users unfamiliar with coding) can now develop apps for the workplace has opened up a world of possibilities. For example, HR managers can dictate how HR apps work, while the finance team can have a direct hand in how the purchase request app works. IT dependence has dropped down dramatic levels as these leaders take the technology into their own hands. If you still see BPM as firmly within the purview of the IT department, it’s time you approached BPM with a fresh perspective.
Not every company is at the right stage where BPM is the right answer, but it continues to produce results and has cemented its place in core business management. When advising companies on when to begin or go deeper with BPM initiatives, be sure to check the motivation and confirm whether it is the right time for BPM transformation.