Good Projects versus Bad Projects?

A passionate spiel from The Process Ninja entitled, “Lessons from a Process Project Failure“, hit home with me as I was reading it today. Craig has reflected many situations that I have also experienced with projects, especially the paradox when a project is celebrated as a success when the end result has been less than ideal.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it is important to celebrate the achievements of the organisation; however the issue is that the lessons are not learnt and the failings of the project are destined to be repeated.

The most disappointing project failures I have seen have been where the initial benefits sought included a strategic vision that the new process would be delivered to increase customer value and maximise enterprise value – by the end of the project both of these ideals have been de-scoped and the organisation is often left with another process implemented in isolation, committing the organisation to a maintenance and integration burden and not adding any real value to the customer. Innovation has most likely been lost to “just making it work”.

I often start a project with big picture thinking; “What is the best way this process can be done for the organisation, the customer and our part of the business”, how do you think I go? Generally I don’t get very far, it’s a great idea to be strategic; however the project owner has already scoped and budgeted the project – there is rarely enough money or brain power to do it right. “That’s OK, we’ll pick the rest up the next time around”; but we never do.

The worst part is that the people who are really passionate about Business Processes end up delving down into the analysis or the system and are never heard from again, paradise lost.

There are a number of solutions to this problem, including integrating portfolios, projects and process management. The solution I will be looking at involves adopting Process Thinking across the organisation… If a project is hard, how can we achieve such a deep change in thinking?

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?