Why Processes need Projects and Projects need Processes

In a recent post, and some back and forth with The Process Ninja, we discussed the Good and Bad of Process Projects; this led me to think about my days learning about process and projects, both of which I am quite passionate about.

Whether you call it a project or not, the only way to make a significant change in an organisation is through a project, as defined “A temporary endeavour … undertaken to meet unique goals and objectives”; however I believe a project is not where a Business Process is made!

How are Business Processes conceived and enacted?

Business Processes have existed in organisations forever, and they will exist regardless of any specific Process Management activities. A Process Management initiative is about improving the way a Business Process is defined, resourced and operated. Therefore, a process project is really about creating capabilities to support the Business Process, not the process itself!

A common theme across my favourite BPM methodologies (Process Renewal Group and BPTrends) is that;

First the organisation understands it’s processes at the enterprise level;
Then, governance at the enterprise level decides to improve a particular process;
A process project is born.

Contrast this to a more traditional approach, where a project is created to improve an area of the business and one of the many outputs of the project is to model the related processes!

So what’s the difference? Firstly, improving the Business Process is why a project exists – so doing process analysis and design is fundamental – not just another output, then once the to-be future process is well understood, then the project is about building capability. This is why a project is necessary – we are changing the organisation to be able to enact the new process!

Roger Burlton defined six areas of capability that projects build to support processes, they are;

  1. Human Competency
  2. Business Rules
  3. Organisation
  4. Facilities
  5. Technology
  6. Motivation

The outputs of the project are to build the required capabilities to support the business process, e.g. The required people skills, decision model, organisational structure, capital equipment, computer systems and reward structures that match the requirements of the business process.

This leads me to a key point; A project does not implement a Business Process; instead the organisation uses the outputs of the project to execute the process the way it has been designed!

  • Projects are created to improve a Business Process (or part of one).
  • Project OUTPUTS are the capabilities that support Business Processes.
  • Improved Business Processes are OUTCOMES of Projects.

Starting with Customer Value

I have had several conversations recently where I have been asked to describe what I do and what is Business Process Management. As part of the reply I have referred the inquisitive person to this website, however I realised that there was no simple description of BPM here – until now.

The Executive Guide to BPM provides some basic information about Business Process Management and what I see as being key to implementing BPM. This page will also be a springboard to a number of artefacts that I will be creating about Process Management and how to implement it!

While writing the guide, I realised that many of the concepts will require further explaining, along with a few good stories to support them. This is a story about Process Thinking and understanding Customer Value.

Eating out in Canberra

A few years ago I was in Canberra for a training session ran by Roger Burlton, a large group from the class went to dinner at a local restaurant. At the end of the evening we all pooled our money and went to the counter to pay.

One of our group was visiting from overseas and needed to separately pay for and get a receipt for their meal to be able to claim a refund from their organisation.

The restaurant had a “We do not split bills” policy, we asked nicely if we could pay for this one meal separately and explained why. The proprietor was serving us and he was sticking to his policy. After some back and forth conversation he was heard to say “It is my restaurant – I set the rules”. By the end of the conversation, he had finally agreed to separately charge for this meal – if we agreed to pay a very small processing fee (we are talking $1 added to a $500 bill).

This is a great example of a policy that is focussed on efficiency, however it clearly destroys customer value – which do you think is better for the business long-term?

Upcoming Australian Process Training

Roger Tregear from Leonardo Education and ProcessDays has announced 2 interesting upcoming BPM training opportunities.

The first sessions are entitled “Creating Business Process Success”. They are scheduled for March and involve the trio of Andrew Spanyi, Michael Roseman and Roger Tregear himself. The sessions sound very interesting and very practical – an opportunity to learn the real BPM and how to Engage, Improve and Sustain. For more information go to the Leonardo Education website.

Following on from the upcoming ProcessDays conference in July, Alec Sharp will be visiting Australia. I am looking forward to seeing Alec in person after our short exchanges during the “live” session at last years event.

Thanks to Roger and Leonardo Education for organising these great sounding sessions!  Let me know if there are any other events coming up in Australia – we don’t get that many good BPM seminar opportunities in Australia. The more we can support them, the more international experts we can talk into visiting (I know they really enjoying coming down under 🙂

Back to Feed

After my recent hiatus I am planning a comeback!  I had not been involved in the BPM community over the last few months as I had heavy work commitments, that were not really BPM related (it was more like being a Systems Analyst).

However I have recently said goodbye to BHPBilliton to take up a BPM Consultant role at APA Group. This means that I will be back to thinking process. The better for you!

During the last few months I found it very difficult to keep track of all the different BPM postings across the internet. Jamie at BPM Collaboration had a great idea to create a page that displayed a summary of BPM blog sites; however you have to open his page directly to read it. I was looking for an aggregated source that could be accessed easily during my day, on the train, on my phone!

So I created BPMBlogs. BPMBlogs is a Twitter account that provides a summary of BPM blogs postings. You can follow this account on Twitter and see what is being posted to the BPM Blog space as part your regular reading.

You can also access the combined BPM Blogs as a Yahoo Pipes Feed, if you want to read the entries directly or import the feed into your own RSS reader.

Check it out!  It is still a work in progress, so let me know what you think – What sites should I add to the list?

note: I did have to remove some sites that I originally wanted to add as their RSS feeds were not compatible with Yahoo Pipes!

We Love BPM and other Process Blogs

I am collecting; building my own collection of BPM related websites. The links section of this blog website includes links to Process Management Blogs, Associations, Vendors & Consultants and sites with articles and other information about BPM.

I will have a handy collection of information that I used to store in link sites, browser bookmark bars and on little scraps of paper, and I don’t mind if you use it too. Even better, if you have a link you would like to share – let me know and I will add it to the collection.

I want to make a special mention of the link I added today. ARIS BPM Blog, although a vendor sponsored site, contains really good general information about BPM, however my favourite thing is ARIS TV – a (so far) short video series on BPM which incorporates ARIS’s great slogan “We BPM”.

Episode 6 of the ARIS TV series includes an interview with Professor Michael Roseman from QUT. I am a fan of the work that Michael and his team have done on BPM Maturity and developing BPM strategy. (more on this later..)