I recently asked a question on LinkedIn about the challenges of applying Process Management in the non-profit sector, this was motivated by my own experience, working within a service charity, as I tried to figure out how BPM principles could be used in an organisation that is largely volunteer driven, with a corporate headquarters.
The first thing that became obvious is that non-profit means different things, true it can be a reference to government organisations or large not-for-profit organisations, however my curiosity was more related to an organisations limited capacity rather than it’s motive.
That said, some of the responses I received were very well thought out and practical. A demonstration of how many volunteer organisations have a high calibre of people within their ranks, which reminds me of how these organisations are usually not very good at capitalising on this!
There were a number of key theme’s that came out of the responses;
- Alignment with strategy and executive sponsorship is as critical (if not more critical) as it is in more commercial organisations. Without a well driven strategic link, process management efforts are not likely to get started. This is closely tied into the funding imperative, as often there is a high level of scrutiny put on administrative funding (especially for organisations that are run from donations).
- It can often be difficult to find the right people to undertake process management in these organisations as projects are often performed at a discount. For me, this emphasises the need to recruit people with the right background, including managers that understand the importance of process thinking. I also believe this is important as processes are often cobbled together very quickly (especially in emergency management scenarios).
- There is a lot of value to applying process management techniques in these environments. Small improvements can often provide a significant improvement, especially when you are working with two very valuable commodities, donated funds and volunteer hours.