At what point will your organization be ready to adopt a business process mindset and implement a process-focused way of working?

We wish the answer could easily identified, like some ancient Zen wisdom (“You will know when you are ready!”). As with the adoption of business process management itself, however, you will need to strategize and plan – then create the vision and train your staff to be successful.

The most important element to BPM software readiness is willingness. As discussed in Part 3 of this series (“Do You Have a Process-Focused Organization?“), an organization needs to be self-aware regarding both its shortcomings and strengths in order to understand how BPM software can aid in improving the organization. From there, the organization has to be willing to undergo ‘change’ in order to ultimately achieve the results it wants. This is a critical point.

All enterprises seek improvement from new technologies and business methods, yet there is a certain amount of naiveté in thinking that simply buying and using a new tool will ensure success. BPM is not a conventional “tool”, and it cannot be ‘dropped in.’ Rather, BPM needs to be integrated into how the organization works. It is not ‘one button-click away’. The essence of what BPM is and provides has to be embedded into the minds of employees and manifested in their work.

Whoever leads the BPM charge in an organization needs to communicate the impending changes in a way that emphasizes preparation. BPM adoption can be initially disruptive because it is something that can only be conducted through humans. (We are not focusing on technology solutions here.) That disruption, however, can be minimized by willingness to embrace the change. The staff should understand what to expect and feel supported. Most notably, employees should be aware of the following:

  • Long-term impact: The business initiatives that people work on do not change simply as a result of BPM adoption; the way in which they are conducted, however, does. The initial impact will occur in their daily work, yet the results will not likely be ‘fully realized’ for a period of time. As a result, awareness of what is to come will impact the transformation. It is important to be patient with the people who will be using the new business processes. Their adjustment to the new process, and acceptance of it, will ultimate impact the results and make the process itself more successful.
  • Vision: If you communicate your vision to your team and set the tone for what is to come, you will create buy-in from participants. You do not need to wave the BPM flag and rally the troops. You do, however, need to create a sense of hope that, combined with a realistic set of expectations, will enable your team to recognize when they are arriving at their goal – and when they have achieved it.
  • Understanding business reasons: The question on most people’s minds (but one that few will actually ask) is a simple one: “WHY are we doing this?” Be very clear as to the business reasons for implementing BPM. It is not enough to point out broken processes or inefficient activity. (One should also not presume that employees are unhappy with the status quo. Often it is quite the opposite.) Since you will have done a great deal of work to identify a solution to known issues, sharing this with employees should be part of your implementation plan.
  • Timeframe: Too many solutions are geared towards a launch date. For a new technology implementation, that may be fine for at some point “it” has to be turned on. BPM may be turned “on”, however the impact is truly felt only after it has been given time to work — and after people have adapted. At that point they can begin to see process improvements. Your organization should be aware that BPM is iterative and ripe for improvement the longer it is used. With BPM you don’t need to wait for new versions in order to see improvement. Instead, the participants can make it better the longer they work with it. Patience is key.
  • Desire: It is difficult to instill a ‘passion for improvement, as we cannot truly know what makes each individual ‘tick’. With the support of the executive team, you can set the tone for how you want your business to operate. Demonstrating sincerity for changing the way you do business and improving the work environment goes a long way towards helping staff become comfortable with the forthcoming changes, and at the same time, embracing them.

After all the research, strategizing, planning and training there will come a time when your teams are working differently, with noticeable results and recognizable improvement. Don’t underestimate the need to prepare and communicate with your stakeholders in advance, however. They are the ones who will ultimately determine the success or failure of your BPM implementation — and it is they who should feel supported and recognized as a key part of the success of your BPM initiative.

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