Are process excellence budgets at risk?

Adam Muspratt

43 per cent of PEX professionals expect their budgets to remain flat in 2020, according to the PEX Report 2020. The industry survey also found that 18 per cent expect a decline and only 16 per cent are expecting an increase in OPEX budgets in the coming year.

Read: “Good ideas have no rank”: lessons from the military for excellence leaders

However, Samantha Bureau-Johnson, Vice President of Business Process Solutions and Project Management Office at Blue Cross NC, notes that flat budgets aren’t always a bad sign. “My budget has been flat for five years because I’m building capabilities into the organization,” she says. “I don’t need more people, I need to be training people on lean six sigma to do their own transformation. Businesses in that situation didn’t need any more money. The biggest thing is to focus on the ‘don’t knows’ – because they are the ones in trouble. They don’t have commitment by knowing they will be invested in year after year.”

Which statement describes the effect the economy is having on your OPEX program budget?


According to our respondents, 48 per cent said that they will focus on process redesign, and 45 per cent said that they will aim to create a culture for transformation. These are high budget projects that require change at the fundamental level, showing that large OPEX projects are still being implemented.

This means that more niche areas of OPEX are taking the back seat. Technologies such as AI, process mining and agile transformation all received less than 30 per cent in terms of what practitioners will be budgeting for in the year ahead. Respondents placing a heavy emphasis on process, leadership and training, the immediate future for PEX is about negotiating cultural change.

Read: The augmented human reality defining the future of process

On the future of OPEX, René Carayol, CBI Advisory and management guru says that transformation is still vitally important to peruse: “In August 2019, HSBC lost its chief executive of 18 months. Incremental improvement was his mantra. Very cautious, very risk averse, very inward-looking, and not transformational. Compare it with First Direct, who changed the game 30 years ago; a bank without branches, at which everyone laughed. 24/7 telephone bank, everyone laughed. They started in a different place. They didn’t take branches and try to incrementally improve. They got rid of branches. The challenge businesses have is most of the executives in the corporation are all incremental improvers.”

Click here to read the full report 

The PEX Report 2020 is your guide to shaping the culture of your organization in the year ahead. Read the full report for more insights including how transformation is a product of culture, why topline growth is increasingly a measure of success for OPEX projects and why OPEX is seen as mission critical for attracting and retaining customers.  

The flagship report also features commentary from world-class though leaders, such as four-star General Ann Dunwoody and PEX Community Contributor of the Year Award winner and Head of Process Excellence at BNY Mellon, Brenton Harder.