The BPM-D Framework and Reference Model or components of it have been applied in 23 organizations of different industries and sizes over the last two years to implement the process of process management or components of it. This has been done through a combination of consulting, coaching and educational activities, combined with appropriate research activities to continuously improve the process of process management reference model.

Let’s look at a couple of examples: The CEO of a medium-size consumer goods company has, for several years, focused successfully on a small niche market. The company offers their products at a high price enabling high revenues and profits – in spite of a relatively high cost level. Now competitors have entered that niche market and offer similar products at a much lower price. The CEO decided to adjust strategy, reduce their prices in the current market and enter new market segments with new products. However, to reduce prices they need to reduce cost. None of the functional executives sees significant cost reduction potential in their own areas. They blame other departments for the cost issues. Also the innovation related processes are not performing at the level required. A process repository with its process models did not really help: the models are outdated and inconsistent regarding semantic content as well as modelling format. The only person who is somehow familiar with the models and the repository has left the organization. There is no cross-functional management in place with responsibilities beyond department boundaries. It is very difficult or even impossible to identify focus areas for cost reduction or a consistent approach for the development and launch of new products.

The situation is addressed through a combination of defining and establishing an appropriate BPM-Discipline through the according process of process management, combined with the immediate application of the new capabilities to “no regret” processes. Additional improvement targets are defined when all high impact low maturity processes are identified by the new BPM-Discipline. Key areas of the PoPM addressed in this initial BPM-Discipline launch are the development of a process strategy (high impact low maturity process to focus on and capability development plan), introduction of a simple process and enterprise architecture approach, definition of a basic process governance, outline of a straight forward model-based improvement approach and some targeted training.

Another typical example is a large financial organization. They have, over the last four years, invested significant amounts of money into what they call “BPM”. However, none of the top executives has seen any business impacts or usable results after all that time and money spent. A stakeholder assessment and BPM maturity analysis showed that almost all BPM related initiatives focus on tools and technologies – for all business units in parallel. There is, for example, a process repository in place with over 1000 models – how to get value out of them is unclear. A flexible process automation is in the works – but business changes faster than the technology can be adjusted. And it is impossible to focus on just one area because business priorities are not or not well enough defined.

The introduction of a value-driven BPM-Discipline, led by a top manager as Chief Process Officer” and its use for a simplification of processes with known issues as preparation for a more focused and business-driven automation is used here to address the current issues. Key areas of the PoPM addressed are the value-driven process strategy with its prioritization approach, process and data governance, a process model based simplification and standardization approach and several people enablement initiatives. Existing capabilities are linked to specific outcomes to achieve step by step a value-driven approach to BPM.

The experience with the first 23 organizations shows that organizations looking for the systematic implementation of a BPM-Discipline through the process of process management fall into three groups:

  1. Organizations have launched one or even multiple process improvement initiatives but the results are not sustained. Every new improvement initiative starts from scratch, not using existing knowledge about business processes systematically.
  2. Organizations put in place many components of a BPM infrastructure (e.g. process execution environments) but have not achieved real business value through their BPM activities.
  3. Organizations launched some improvement initiatives and built some BPM infrastructure but both do not really fit together, it is unclear what the next steps and priorities are. The produced business value is limited.

Organizations of the first group establish the “project-focused” sub-processes of the PoPM but forget about the activities and infrastructure necessary to keep the improved processes on track and to be able to create synergies between different initiatives over time. In those cases “asset-focused” sub-processes need to be addressed. In most of the cases this results in a combination of governance, enterprise architecture and people enablement processes, combined with the development of an appropriate value-driven BPM agenda.

The second group of organizations gets lost in all the available methods, tools and technologies but forgets to identify how to create business value through them. The link of BPM activities to strategic value-drivers and the launch of initiatives effecting those value-drivers is key here. Hence, the “project-focused” sub-processes of the PoPM need to be addressed. The launch of a process strategy initiative is here most important: identifying high impact low maturity processes, the required BPM capability and based on those the development of the BPM agenda. This needs to be combined with the launch and execution of improvement projects and the consequent value-realization. BPM capabilities can be adjusted according to the requirements identified in the BPM agenda.

Most organizations belong to group three. They have some BPM capabilities and improvement initiatives in place but the BPM journey is missing direction, focus and clear business impact. They don’t have a BPM-Discipline in place but know how to apply a number of methods and tools, e.g. Six Sigma. Instead of strategy execution, BPM activities result in operational fixing of symptoms. Here a combination of a real outcome-focused process strategy, the management of the process knowledge in an enterprise architecture and a well-defined (but simple) governance approach are good starting points to move towards a value-driven BPM-Discipline.

Here some key lessons learned from first practice experiences:

  • Get top management support. Establishing a value-driven BPM-Discipline requires the top-down support, best for the entire company, but at least for the business unit in scope.
  • Identify business processes where you can deliver immediate benefits while building the required lasting BPM capabilities. Otherwise sponsors will lose patience.
  • Set clear priorities, don’t try to “boil the ocean”. Organizations who launch too many initiatives at once often fail.
  • Keep things simple, “less is often more”. This is especially true for the use of tools and technologies.
  • Encourage innovation and creativity instead of punishing people for making mistakes.
  • A value-driven BPM Discipline is an enabler of growth and strategic agility, not just a cost reduction engine.
  • People are key for success. You need to treat them accordingly.

A value-driven BPM-Discipline and its leadership recognizes the business value potential of technology and digitalization and makes it transparent to the organization. It enables real business value from digital initiatives.

The first experiences with the BPM-D Framework and the reference model of the process of process management have demonstrated the business impact of the approach and enabled the continues improvement of the reference model. The reference model allows to identify and establish the appropriate BPM capabilities in the company-specific context quickly and at low cost while applying them immediately to achieve fast business benefits.

A company can use the adjusted reference model as basis for the definition of the company-specific BPM processes. The process of process management is transferred into an operational business process. It becomes part of the enterprise architecture of the company. The owner of the process of process management, a “Chief Process Officer”, manages this process.

Business Process Management (BPM) has become a value-driven management discipline that transfers strategy into people and technology based execution – at pace with certainty. This management discipline is implemented through the process of process management. It enables an organization to execute its business strategy systematically in a digital world.

The process of process management enables companies to create an end-to-end “value network” around the existing organizational structure. This is the basis for sustainable performance and productivity.

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