Business is going really well at our company. We have seven consecutive quarters of significant growth, dramatic improvement in margins, we are hiring good people, and morale is great. In the midst of this, the last thing anyone wants to do is kill the momentum. Which is why, if I don't nail the project I'm planning, I could easily become the guy who ruined all the fun.
The truth is, I think we have the potential to improve. Even with all this success, I see areas that would benefit from business process improvement— in areas like how we manage tasks, how we communicate, and how we make decisions. I see this from the perspective of an employee whose work depends on business processes and workflows. Yet, as Director of IT, I also know that with the right solution, the right internal buy-in, and collaboration, we can improve on how our company achieves its goals. If I can get agreement and support to drive a project that identifies and implements a business process improvement solution, I have no doubt that every department within the company will get on board.
It is interesting how success can sometimes breed complacency. Some might attribute it to the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" syndrome. In other words, since business is going so well, why introduce something that will require ‘change’ and modify our business operations? My vantage point tells me that this is precisely the right time to make a change. We are already running efficiently and have a focus on our goals. Some could translate that as we're already where we want to be. Yet, I’m sure we can do better.
So the challenge is for me to sell it. I need to get senior management to approve and support the project. In fact, I even need them to champion it. The first step, however, is to get my CIO and other executives to recognize that this is not the time to sit on our hands. I need them to see that with action, we can prepare our company for a future where we can replicate the things we are doing well right now— and even do them more effectively.
In order to get their approval and for me to then be able to move forward, I have to explain it in their terms. I need to inform and persuade our executives by focusing on outcomes. I want them to see the critical improvements that our company will realize with the implementation of this kind of thinking (yes, I need to talk to them about business process management), and I also need to assuage any concerns they have. My approach will be a mixture of salesmanship and exploration. I recognize that in the course of doing this, I will also learn more about the issues they think are important, and ultimately, I may bake those into our solution.
These are the issues I will address in order to get executive approval:
ROI: As they say, accentuate the positives. Our executives need to answer to their Board and investors; their performance is based on how well they manage costs and increase revenue. I am doing a fairly rudimentary cost/benefit analysis that demonstrates significant cost savings from deploying a robust BPM solution. It includes estimates of reductions in the number of hours employees spend on time- consuming tasks, the impact of faster and more collaborative decision-making. And because I am looking at a BPM solution that doesn’t require coding to create processes, my ROI shows significant savings that will come from avoiding the IT application queue (plus having the ability to create, modify and manage their own processes.)
Empowerment: Executives love it when people can do more. A BPM software solution, especially one that does not require IT to build and manage processes, empowers employees to improve their workload by creating more efficient ways to accomplish tasks. I know they will love to learn that we can reduce the IT burden and give staff the ability to build, implement and manage processes. That means there will be cost savings and change management all in one.
Risk mitigation: There are always concerns, with any new BPM or workflow software, around allowing access to company and customer data. I completely understand that! If our data falls victim to a hack or security breach, it could have a major impact on our brand; if customers cannot trust us, they will not remain customers for very long. I have already built in tight security controls for our network and our environment. To ensure that our BPM system will be secure, I have developed specific guidelines for usage and access, and, with the solution I'm proposing, I will be able to monitor usage trends and behavior.
Automation benefits: Most of our business activities consist of repeatable processes. The issue is finding time to actually codify them as processes and commit them to how people work. In my company, even the C-level execs are frustrated with the length of time it takes to accomplish certain tasks. I am going to demonstrate what a BPM solution with workflow automation capabilities can do to automate certain tasks, thereby reducing red tape and increasing efficiencies across the organization.
My work is cut out for me. Our execs, like all execs, are a demanding bunch— but that is why I like being here. I want them to really poke at my project because it will ultimately help me create a better plan.
I will be back shortly...and I will let you know if I got the green light. Wish me luck!