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.

BPM Groups on LinkedIn

In the previous post I talked about the use of the LinkedIn Q&A section to ask questions about BPM topics and (hopefully) get some very insightful responses.

Craig from The Process Ninja reminded me about the many BPM groups on LinkedIn which I had neglected to mention. This is probably because I agree with Craig’s analysis that the response rates to questions in the groups is low, mainly because there is not the same rigor and reward around questions in groups as there is in the Q&A section.

The BPM groups on LinkedIn are a good way to associate with like minded LinkedIn members or make contacts and share information about BPM. You can have a regular e-mail sent to you with a summary of new discussions in each group, I find I can quickly scan the e-mail for interesting content and then go to the group directly if I find something worthwhile.

You can see the groups that I am a member of by opening my LinkedIn Profile.  Some of the interesting groups are;

BPM Australia – Small group, not much discussion, good for finding local (to me) connections.

BPM Group – Mainly international job ads.

BPM Guru – Fair bit of Q&A, quite interesting.

Business Process Professionals – Quite good Q&A, good links to resources.

Lean Enterprise Australian and New Zealand – Reasonably new group with lots of activity and interesting people discussing Lean.

LinkedBPM – Another BPM Group

There are many others that I have not mentioned or joined, this is mainly because a fair amount of the discussion is repeated across the groups. I find this collection gives me more than enough to be interested and informed.

BPM Questions on LinkedIn

Recently I have strated using the Questions & Answer features of the LinkedIn website.  If you have not signed up on LinkedIn or used the Questions and Answers, I highly recommend doing so.  I have found LinkedIn to be a very rewarding way to learn about professionals in the BPM field (and many other fields) and to gain amazing access to the combined knowledge of millions of people!

The Question and Answer section is quite simple, you post a question and anyone can provide you with answers. If you are lucky and you have written an interesting question, you will get lots of answers.  After you have received your answers you can also choose the person who gave you the best answer, they are then credited on their profile as being a bit of an expert on the topic!

The first thing I noticed when looking at the Q & A section was that there was no category relating to Business Process Management, or anything similar. The closest match I could find was, “Business Analytics”.  However, I did get some good responses to my questions.

The best way to use the Q&A section is to get in and answer some questions. So go on – give it a go!

I will be featuring a review of the answers to questions I ask on the blog.  If there is a particular topics that you are interested in asking about (and don’t want to do it yourself), add a comment here and I’ll post it up.

If you are interested in learning more about using LinkedIn, I recommend listening to Stan Relihan‘s podcast, The Connections Show.  Stan covers a range of practical topics on using LinkedIn for business and networking – as well as other interesting internet and business related areas. A great listen!