Have you found the Problem?

On one side of my world is the process management brick-wall, the other side is the chasm of process theory. Criss-crossing the terrain are the fast flowing reality rivers. This is often what it feels like when I am trying to get buy-in for developing a Business Process Management program.

Why is selling BPM so difficult?

Over the past few years, nearly every BPM conference, user group or meeting of the Australian BPM Roundtable has had a session about executive buy-in, selling BPM or simply, Why don’t they get it?

At the February Australian BPM Roundtable, Andrew Spanyi gave an interesting presentation on Leading Process Change (registration is required to access the BPM Collaboration.com site). One of Andrew’s rare practices for leaders is to have A Compelling Case for Change. Too often BPM is interesting but not compelling.

What is often compelling to leaders is single-points of process improvement; I cannot change the organisation – but I can fix the process in front of me. Andrew covers this in his summary, “No one single successful process improvement, innovation or transformation effort is likely to convey lasting competitive advantage; Process Management across the enterprise does!”

Therefore, there needs to be a compelling reason to do Process Management at the enterprise level – which may be much easier to find in a struggling organisation than in one that is already successful. So what are some of the common problems the may be compelling?

  1. A desire to create “one” organisation – when it is recognised that silos of operations are dysfunctional and there is a desire to create consistent processes across the organisation.
  2. Reducing costs – when there is a need for far cheaper processes.
  3. Improving customer value – often after a poor customer satisfaction survey identifies the need to vastly improve the service and value being delivered to customers.
  4. Poor financial or sales performance – a need to adopt a different approach to save the company!
  5. Increasing visibility – executives want increased visibility of the performance of the organisation, usually coming from a renewed strategic approach.
  6. Fad – a desire to implement process management or a process management system to be adopting an architectural or business approach that is thought to be desirable.

This was just a short list off of the top of my head. I want to explore this further at the Australian Process Days conference “birds of a feather” sessions; please add a comment; sharing problems that we an discuss at the conference session.

Finding the Business Problem

One approach to finding the business problem is to use an analysis tool to understand where your organisation is and where do they want to be, in relation to Business Process Management. The measured desire for change can represent the problem to be solved.

One way to determine the desire for change is to conduct an audit (survey) of key stakeholders and use the information to develop a process model, where is process management in the organisation today (as-is) and where do we want to be (to-be), what are the requirements (KPI’s) and what change is needed to get us there (the process project).

This can be done using an existing BPM Maturity Model, which is not an area I have had much experience in; however my initial experience has been that finding and adopting a suitable tool is not easy; either to find or to use. What’s your experience?

Method in my BPM Madness!

At the recent Australian BPM Round table session I did a quick survey of participants to see, amongst other things, what BPM Frameworks are being used in Australian organisations?

I was not surprised by the result, however it is interesting that out of 20 organisations there was not 1 recognised BPM Framework that had been adopted; and comments were even made that they are not necessary. I think this last comment related to the terminology being used.

I have recently added a new page to the Executive Guide to BPM explaining what a BPM Framework is and why they are needed. See the Process of Process Management. For me, implementing BPM is implementing a Business Process and therefore you need a guide on how you are doing it!

What BPM Frameworks are there?

The challenge is finding and evaluating a Framework. There are three main sources;

  1. Books
  2. Training
  3. Vendors

I was introduced to my first Framework by Roger Burlton of the Process Renewal Group. The Process Renewal Group Framework is based on Roger’s book, Business Process Management: Profiting From Process; however the best understanding of the Framework and the techniques to implement it came from attending Roger’s training course and being mentored by the Group.

There are other Frameworks that come from similar sources, and consequently I have not had the opportunity to review any of them, I just know that they exist from web research. Frameworks from BPMInstitute.org and Management By Process are examples of training / consultant led offerings.

Another option is to adopt the processes recommended by your BPMS vendor. The advantage of this option is that the framework is tailored to the tools you have available. This can also be a disadvantage if you do not already use the tool as the training seems to be inherently linked, even if the framework is generically good. An example of this may be the framework promoted by Appian.

There may be some more generic options, such as the Association of Business Process Management Professionals (ABPMP) Common Body of Knowledge. As I am not a member I have not reviewed this framework; however there is a good summary presentation available, see Guide to BPM CBOK.

The Round Table also attempted to develop a common methodology which was called The Process of Process Improvement (TPPI). The output of the exercise can be found on the BPM-Collaboration TPPI Wiki (registration is required).

At the moment I am evaluating the BPTrends methodology that is based on the book Business Process Change by Paul Harmon. This methodology is supported in Australian by Leonardo Consulting who have written an excellent summary of the methodology and the certification program that they offer; see Achieving Process-Based Management.

I am sure there are many BPM Framework offerings that I have not covered here. If you know of one or you have a framework or methodology to offer – please leave a comment to let me know. I am also keen to collect or create reviews of the Frameworks that are available.

What Framework are you using or considering?

Appearance on BPM Collaboration

Jamie, the administrator of BPM Collaboration is revamping the website ahead of this week’s BPM Roundtable gathering in Melbourne. Jamie is updating the front page of the site to better highlight the content and encourage more members of the community to contribute.

The new front page will feature profiles of the BPM practitioners who use the site: I volunteered to go first. You can check out My Profile, however you will have to join the site first if you are not already a member.

In the next couple of days I will also post an idea / request to undertake research into the understanding of BPM at different levels of organisations. I will post more details on The Process Executive when it is up.

Well done Jamie, and the rest of you – check it out.

Australian BPM Community

We Australians are making a strong contribution to the Business Process Management body of knowledge, however I could be biased being an Aussie and in the field!

If you would like to learn more about the Australian BPM community, here is a summary of what is on offer. (I am sure that I will not cover everything here, please let me know if there are other items that can be added).

BPTrends Forums

A great place to start is your local BPTrends Forum. These user groups are a coming together of BPM practitioners, consultants and vendors to hear about and discuss BPM topics of interest. Generally each forum will meet bi-monthly and will include a presentation of a case study, research or concept, discussion on the topic and will usually round-off with refreshments and networking.

There are BPTrends forums in most capital cities (Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane), to find out about your local forum, contact the national coordinator, Imre Hegedus, or check out the events page on Imre’s website.

Other Forums

There are other forums that cover Business Process Management, such as the Australian Business Analysts Association (ABAA). I am not a member, and have not been to a meeting (although I hope to rectify this), so I will update you when I know a little more. (If you have your own review, send it to me and I will post it).

QUT and BPM Roundtable

A key contributor to the development of BPM in Australia is the Business Process Management group at QUT. There is a significant amount of research being done in the group and they collaborate well across the spectrum of the BPM community and a really good part of this is the BPM Roundtable for which they facilitate.

The BPM Roundtable has been bringing the leading BPM practitioners and thought leaders in Australia together on a quarterly basis for nearly 4 years. Through it’s invited membership, it maintains a high quality of interaction, sharing and collaboration on BPM. I personally have found it a very rewarding group to work with and it has opened the door to a higher level of knowledge about the practical application of BPM in Australian organisations.


To tie it all together, the bpm-collaboration.com website has been created. The objective of this site is to bring together the members of the Australian BPM Community to share knowledge and collaborate on BPM areas of interest. The “collaboration” aspect is the key component and members are expected to contribute to the development of content on BPM topics, as well as use the site as a reference and networking tool.

Accordingly bpm-collaboration.com contains a interactive knowledge base, areas to post questions and comments, video snapshots and information about presentations, articles and events. The initial work of the BPM Roundtable (a process framework called “The Process of Process Management”) has been moved to BPM collaborations for further development.

To access the site you need to be registered and you will need to be invited by a member of the community (send me an e-mail if you need an invitation).

BPM Networks

Finally, it will be great to meet up at the BPM forums or related conferences and maintain your relationships afterwards by keeping in contact and contributing to the groups and blogs available on-line. Besides my site, LinkedIn has a number of well connected BPM groups and the Question and Answer section is great for researching particular topics. Feel free to connect to me on LinkedIn to check out my groups and questions.
Let me know if this has been useful, I would like to hear about your experiences.