Three drivers of BPM

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Clients, competitors and employees are important drivers pushing organisations to focus on business process change, according to Grant Field, group operations officer at FedGroup.

Speaking at the ITWeb BPM Summit in Johannesburg yesterday, Field emphasised the importance of incorporating these drivers into business process management (BPM) strategy. "Business process management itself has been referred to as a holistic management process, aligning business processes to the wants and needs of clients."

BPM is an important pillar in helping a business to provide the best products possible, said Field, and emulating industry standards is not enough. "If you are only looking at business best practices and industry norms, you'll only be as good as best practices and industry norms. Use these as a benchmark, not goals: you have to have goals that are way better than the industry norm.

"Design your processes around being customer-centric," he added. "If you want to understand them, you have to stay close to them, listen to them and identify with them. It sounds obvious, but many organisations don't get that basic truth right."

Simplifying can help with customer-related processes, noted Field. "Too many companies have too much choice, and the result is that processes are really complex in trying to bring about that choice. Not everyone will agree with this, but in our organisation, we have limited choice - not no choice, but limited choice."

In order to keep up with competitors, fast adaptation is essential, and watching competitors to know what they're doing is the best way to achieve this, according to Field. "Go and analyse competitors' Web sites to see what they're doing, and whoever your competitors are, have one of their products. Until you've 'driven the car', you don't understand what competitors are doing. And subscribe to publications, both industry and competitor publications."

Finally, BPM must centre on employees, said Field. "We need to understand the big picture, and be involved in the nitty-gritty to build processes that really matter. In everything we design, whether processes or systems, we keep it simple and make sure anyone can use it - as long as a person understands the business around what they're doing, they shouldn't have to learn to use the application.

"There's a difference between working in business, and working with business," he explained. "Working in business is the day-to-day of meetings, clients, backlogs - we find ourselves so busy with these things that it's difficult to take a step back and see it for what it is. Working with business is taking that step back, seeing the business as it could be, rather than what it is. It's only if you're able to step away from that business that you can become creative."

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