Implementing business process management (BPM) can seem daunting. In fact, research shows that only 30% of BPM projects achieve their initial goals. But don‘t worry! In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll summarize the top 8 challenges organizations face with BPM and provide proven tips to avoid common pitfalls based on my experience as a consultant.
First, let‘s quickly recap what BPM involves. BPM is a methodology and tools to model, analyze, improve, monitor and automate business processes. The benefits are huge – BPM can reduce costs by 25-50% while simultaneously boosting customer satisfaction by 15-25%.
Now, here are the top 8 challenges I see organizations encounter with BPM initiatives:
1. Incomplete or inaccurate process data
2. Choosing the wrong BPM tools
3. Lack of process visibility
4. Inadequate training and buy-in
5. Lack of process governance
6. Risks of changing complex processes
7. Failure to continuously improve
8. Concern that BPM stifles innovation
But with the right strategy, you can avoid these pitfalls and ensure BPM success. So let‘s dive into each challenge including proven solutions:
1. Capturing Complete and Accurate Process Data
The famous saying "garbage in, garbage out" applies here. Without complete and accurate data on current processes, any analysis or improvements will be flawed.
For instance, employees often shortcut processes or work differently than formal procedures outline. Critical tribal knowledge also lives undocumented in people‘s heads.
In one survey, 60% of organizations said incomplete process understanding was a top BPM challenge.
Here are 4 tips to capture robust process data:
Conduct interviews and observations. Sit with employees and observe how they really work. Ask probing questions to uncover undocumented practices.
Leverage process mining. This technology analyzes system log files to create objective process maps showing bottlenecks, variants, and metrics. It provides a truth source versus subjective opinions.
Clean up existing data. Resolve inconsistencies, eliminate duplicate records, and consolidate siloed data sources for a single version of the truth.
Allow time for discovery. Don‘t shortcut this phase! Allocating adequate time for comprehensive process discovery is essential for mapping processes accurately.
Following these four steps will provide the complete, high-quality data needed to optimize processes confidently.
2. Selecting the Wrong BPM Tools
The BPM software market is exploding. With so many options like process modeling, RPA, process mining and more, it‘s easy to choose tools poorly suited to your needs.
For example, relying solely on incomplete process diagrams when process mining can discover actual workflows. Or implementing RPA without understanding root causes of process issues.
40% of organizations admit they would switch BPM tools if they could start over.
Here is how to avoid getting stuck with the wrong BPM tools:
Clarify your objectives. Determine if you aim to eliminate manual work, gain insight, ensure compliance, etc. Your goals dictate your tools.
Take a mixed approach. Blend process modeling, mining, automation etc. for complete visibility. One tool is rarely sufficient.
Involve process owners. Consult the people who understand the processes best when selecting tools.
Start small. Pilot tools on a small scale first to validate fit before full production rollout.
Avoid a silver bullet mindset. Assemble a toolkit tailored to your specific process challenges and opportunities.
3. Gaining Process Visibility from End-to-End
"We can‘t improve what we can‘t see." That quote sums up the importance of process visibility. When processes span departments and systems, executives often lack true end-to-end visibility. This blinds them to waste, bottlenecks, variants, and root causes.
In fact, 84% of organizations say inadequate process visibility impedes BPM success.
Here are 4 ways to increase visibility across end-to-end processes:
Create process maps. Diagram processes end-to-end across functions to spot waste and delays. However, complement maps with mining since they may not reflect reality.
Implement real-time dashboards. Display KPIs and metrics visually on live dashboards to monitor statuses and trends. This provides visibility at a glance.
Leverage process mining. Discover actual workflows, variants, waste points directly from system logs for objective understanding.
Digitize processes via DTO. Create digital twin replicas of processes to run simulations and what-if scenarios to see impacts of changes.
End-to-end visibility enables fact-based process improvements vs. shooting in the dark. It illuminates the path forward.
4. Driving Adoption Through Training and Change Management
BPM initiatives flounder without staff adoption. Employees may cling to old ways if the case for change is unclear or training is lacking.
One survey found 60% of BPM projects fail due to inadequate change management – not technical reasons.
Here are 5 proven tactics to drive adoption:
Secure executive sponsorship. Influence cascades top-down. Make sure leaders vocally endorse and role model changes.
Communicate benefits. Explain how BPM helps both staff and the business. Helping people understand "WIIFM" promotes buy-in.
Involve process owners early. Get their input when (re)designing processes to boost comfort with changes.
Train before, during, and after. Don‘t just train at launch. Deliver continuous learning and support as processes evolve.
Celebrate wins. Recognize teams who achieve results through BPM. This motivates continued adoption.
With these steps, you can build understanding, readiness, and ownership to realize lasting impact from process improvements.
5. Embedding Effective Process Governance
BPM without governance is like diet without exercise. You enjoy some initial benefits but they aren‘t sustainable.
Despitestreamlining processes, only 10% of companies actually embed mechanisms to govern processes and sustain improvements.
Here are 5 best practices for BPM governance:
Define process metrics. Identify KPIs like cost, quality, cycle time for each process to maintain line of sight on performance.
Set improvement targets. Establish measurable goals based on benchmarking to stretch performance.
Automate performance tracking. Use BPM tools to monitor KPIs in real-time instead of periodic manual reporting.
Assign process owners. Make individuals accountable for meeting process metrics and improvement goals.
Conduct regular reviews. Reassess processes quarterly or biannually to identify new areas to optimize vs. one and done.
BPM combined with strong governance provides the 1-2 punch to knock out waste and inefficiency for the long haul.
6. Mitigating Risks of Changing Complex Processes
Changing interconnected processes often creates unintentional side effects. What helps one area may harm another without careful analysis.
In fact, only 20% of companies say they are highly capable at predicting the impact of process changes.
Here are 4 ways to reduce risks when modifying complex processes:
Conduct impact analysis. Model and assess various what-if scenarios before changing complex processes. Use digital twins to simulate changes.
Take an incremental approach. Start with small contained changes and scale up after validating improvements to minimize disruptions.
Leverage process mining. Identify risks and issues based on how the process operates in reality, not theory.
Review post-implementation. Measure KPI impact after changes are live to confirm outcomes and catch problems early.
With these steps, you can modify intricate processes confidently while avoiding landmines that could blow up in your face.
7. Sustaining Continual Improvement
BPM is a journey of incremental improvement, not a one-time initiative. However after initial projects, many companies take their eyes off the ball.
Without active monitoring and assessment, over 50% of companies see BPM benefits erode within a year.
Here are 4 tips for ongoing process optimization:
Automate monitoring. Use BPM tools track KPI trends 24/7. Don‘t rely on periodic manual analysis. You can‘t improve what you don‘t measure.
Embrace continuous improvement culture. Promote Lean principles like Kaizen that engrain improvement into daily work.
Conduct regular process reviews. Reassess processes quarterly or biannually to identify new inefficiencies rather than forcing yearly budget cycles.
Update processes via mining. Continuously mine processes to reveal new bottlenecks and variants as they emerge to drive the next round of enhancements.
Continuous process optimization should become as natural as breathing. Bake it into your organizational DNA.
8. Harnessing BPM to Drive Innovation
Some organizations avoid BPM believing it stifles innovation. In reality, the opposite is true if done right.
By streamlining processes, BPM frees up resources previously wasted on non-value add work. This new capacity can be redirected towards developing cutting edge solutions.
78% of organizations say process excellence and innovation go hand-in-hand.
Here are 4 tips to leverage BPM to spark innovation:
First streamline, then innovate. Use BPM to eliminate waste and defects. Then shift those redeemed resources into exploratory innovation.
Take incremental steps, not big bang. Smaller changes allow absorbing improvements while minimizing disruption to operations.
Brainstorm regularly. Conduct ideation workshops with staff to uncover innovation opportunities.
Model innovations virtually first. Simulate innovative ideas in process models to estimate feasibility and impact before piloting.
BPM clears time and space for innovation to blossom by removing the weeds of waste strangling your processes.
Let‘s Recap Key Solutions
We covered a lot of ground exploring common BPM challenges and proven solutions. Here are some key takeaways:
- Leverage process mining, observations, data cleansing and ample time to capture complete, accurate process data.
- Choose tools that align to your goals and complement each other. Pilot first.
- Create process maps and models to gain end-to-end visibility.
- Secure leadership endorsement, explain benefits, involve staff, train continuously to drive adoption.
- Define process KPIs and owners to institutionalize governance.
- Analyze risks of changes, start small, leverage mining to modify complex processes safely.
- Automate monitoring, embrace Kaizen culture, and continuously mine processes to sustain improvements.
- First optimize, then innovate by using efficiency gains for exploratory projects.
While BPM comes with challenges, following these tips based on proven practices can set your organization up for success. Feel free to reach out if you need any help navigating BPM in your company. I‘m happy to provide guidance based on my 25+ years of experience in this space!