How to build the business case for BPM
BPM is most effective when it is matched with a willing and engaged organisational culture. At an early stage, it’s important to document what you want to accomplish and develop a thoughtful and well-formed strategy for implementing BPM and automating your business processes. Once documented, BPM software can execute the strategy.
Are you laying the groundwork for BPM? In this blog, we offer practical advice for organisations planning a BPM implementation.
Define your project and its scope
The concept of business process management (BPM) should enter the minds of your team before it is implemented. This gives them time to prepare, anticipate and create an optimal environment for the launch.
For BPM to have an impact on an organisation, the team responsible for implementation needs to have considered:
- where it will be used
- how it will be used
- whom it will benefit
During this stage, you are assessing the feasibility of the idea and trying to establish:
- what the system will do
- what the system capabilities will be
- whether internal solutions exist
- how long it will take to complete the work
- who will be involved
It is also important to identify measurable objectives such as reduce approval cycles by X days/weeks, or eliminate X number of steps in workflow. When measuring success post implementation, you can refer back to the improvements you wanted to make when you initiated the project. Is your BPMS helping you achieve them?
Gather functional and non-functional requirements
Once you have confirmed that idea is viable, the next step is to begin gathering requirements e.g. must-haves and wants.
To plan a better solution, we recommend engaging with vendors from the outset to help explore ideas and build prototypes. Early engagement with vendors can help you:
- plan better user stories (“As a user, I want…”)
- understand the technical solutions available
- consider technical alternatives to better meet your needs
- identify and mitigate any potential pitfalls sooner
- assess how much the work could cost
- understand how long the work could take
- write a detailed scope or statement of work
- identify critical success factors
You should seek to appoint an internal ‘process champion’ who may be the person who had the original idea. They should ask users about:
- how they complete their work
- what challenges they encounter
- what functionality they require from a new platform
- how the current process lets them down
Many other departments will also need to be consulted, to make sure the solution meets all the organisation’s needs, such as:
- IT, to ensure technical compatibility with other systems
- Compliance, to make sure the solution can meet legal or regulatory needs
- Management, to ensure reporting and process oversight will be sufficient
Review project management methodologies
Vendors are tasked to conceptualise, design, develop, supply, deliver, install, test, train and commission BPMS solutions and they are often up against tight deadlines.
To meet the exacting requirements of the client, several project management methodologies are available to help vendors and their project managers plan, execute and deliver projects on time and within budget.
Project managers can choose traditional methods (e.g. Waterfall) that suit rigid processes where the scope will not change or select modern agile frameworks (e.g. Scrum or Kanban) which focus on regularly releasing features, or iterations, that allow for quick changes based on user feedback.
At ePC, we recommend an agile BPM implementation.
Get buy-in from senior executives
Executive buy-in and stakeholder support is critical to BPM project success. Without it, you may struggle to get the budget and time required.
You need senior management to recognise the long-term benefits and actively champion the project to other influencers. To achieve buy-in from stakeholders, we recommend:
- highlighting the current (‘As is’) situation with its challenges and what it will look like after BPMS is implemented (‘Future state’)
- performing cost/benefit analysis to show financial savings
- focussing on results e.g. increased visibility, reduce paper use, reduction in hours spent on time consuming tasks and faster (more collaborative) decision making
- starting with smaller departmental processes which will deliver a quick win, demonstrate proof of concept and require less budget initially
- building a wide consensus of opinion behind your project
Once you have the above information, you’re ready to meet with stakeholders to champion your case. These C-Suite executives are busy people with lots of competing demands on their time.
This means you may only get one opportunity to persuade them. At this stage, you may already have a preferred vendor. If so, you could ask them to come along to part of the meeting as they will be able to instantly answer any questions that may come up and provide real-world examples, with invaluable product demonstrations.
Build your project team
To successfully implement a BPMS solution, you will need to draw upon the skills of a multifaceted team. However, if you do not have a full team available, your BPM vendor will be able to provide support for any (or all) elements as needed.
The roles provided either internally or from your vendor will consist of:
The Project Manager (PM) will be responsible for the overall delivery of the project and manage the schedule, personnel and other resources to meet the plan.
They should have experience and a proven track record in managing, developing, implementing and supporting a project of similar or larger scale.
Your PM should be experienced in project management methodologies e.g. Agile, Scrum and Lean, to ensure am appropriate methodology is chosen for your project.
The Solution Architect is responsible for planning robust, scalable digital solutions. They should possess prior experience in system design and architecture of similar scale and complexity.
They should have experience in delivering solutions using your chosen project management methodology and have an advanced knowledge of all technologies that will form part of the project; not just the ones included but also alternatives that may also be considered.
A representative of IT should be involved throughout to discuss the software hosting environment/requirements as well as the configuration of servers, networks, PCs and integration with 3rd party systems.
Quality Assurance (QA)/Testing
The PM should coordinate all tests to assure that the software meets the functional requirements. The QA team will be responsible for conducting the tests. These include:
- Unit Testing, to validate that each iteration/unit of the solution performs as designed
- System Integration Testing (SIT), to evaluate the solution works in the client’s IT infrastructure
- User Acceptance Testing (UAT), to evaluate the solution compliance against the functional requirements and assess whether it is acceptable for delivery