4 steps to get management on board with BPM

Read time 2min 30sec

Less than 10% of leadership teams generally embrace business process management (BPM) as a management discipline, preferring to focus on process improvement and the short-term gain this can provide.

That's the view of Andrew Spanyi, MD of Spanyi International, a North America-based consulting and training company that specialises in organisation and business process design.

He points out that BPM has made a significant contribution to improving the performance of business processes in many organisations, with process improvement involving projects with a clearly defined beginning and end.

Process management, on the other hand, involves changing what an organisation measures, monitors and rewards. "That's much harder for business leaders and not nearly as comfortable, albeit with the promise of significant long-term benefits," he adds.

Spanyi maintains that a key reason why process management tends to play a secondary role to process improvement is that BPM, as a management discipline, is not as clearly codified as process improvement techniques are. Nevertheless, process management requires leaders to think and act systematically.

Four foundational elements

According to Spanyi, there are four foundational elements that need to be executed, not only with precision, but also in the correct order, for successful process management to occur.

These are:

  1. Strategic alignment
  2. Performance improvement
  3. Performance measurement
  4. Governance

"It's essential that the management team has a shared understanding of the definition and current performance of the company's major processes and the size of the gap between current performance and desired performance," Spanyi says.

Beware the risks

Spanyi warns that, in order to address the four foundational elements of process management successfully, the following risks should always be considered:

  • Lack of leadership engagement. Process management is a top-down initiative and therefore requires the right amount of management attention and support.
  • Too much detail. Diving into too much detail in developing the high-level process model can derail even the best efforts, with detail overload in executing a major redesign project resulting in a loss of momentum.
  • Wrong scope. Process management is best deployed at the business unit level rather than at the holding company level.
  • Not enough attention to people. The contribution that people make on the
    steering team and project team, rather than focusing on the technology, will determine the success of process management.

Not enough balance. While governance is the glue that holds process management
together, balance is needed in defining the role of process executives. The scope of responsibility of process executives must be broad enough to cross departmental boundaries but not so broad as to threaten the chances of success.

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