BPM for Non-Profit?

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;

  1. 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).
  2. 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).
  3. 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.