BPM tough love

This story makes me want to drive out to Oakville (which is just east of Toronto) and buy Neil Montgomery a beer. In summary, Davis Controls, a 50-person manufacturing firm in Oakville headed by Montgomery, put in a BPMS from Exact back in 2001 to handle business processes ranging from sales orders to vacation requests. They now have 25% higher revenues with the same number of staff, and have reduced administrative headcount to 1/3 of its pre-BPM number.

That success was not without some rocks along the road. As with every BPMS installation that I’ve ever seen, there was some amount of push-back from the employees, who continued to circumvent the BPMS using email. Montgomery did everything possible to convince the team to use the system, to the point of having to mandate its use, but a half dozen empl0yees still used email instead. So he cut off their email accounts, which is pretty much the most drastic thing that I’ve heard of anyone doing to get people to use BPM, until I read on that two of the employees, including the CTO, still resisted (are they stupid, or what?), and he gave them the boot.

This man deserves a medal, although I’m sure that some of the people who work for him, or used to work for him, might disagree. BPM is one of those technologies that fundamentally changes the way that people do a lot of everyday tasks, and those people can put up a surprising amount of resistance to change, even though they accept logically that the new technology and methods make them more productive. As John Maynard Keynes said, the greatest difficulty lies not in persuading people to accept new ideas, but in persuading them to abandon old ones.

One thought on “BPM tough love”

  1. Sandy – Buy Neil a beer for me too! And buy him another if he can persuade my boss to use the collaboration tools my company provides!

    Although his approach seems fairly aggressive, there are probably many Change Managers that would love to be able to use his approach.

    In the past I have suggested similar approaches to records management customers that need to be able to convince their users to identify and store vital business records. Some are restrictive (e.g. preventing local email storage and reducing the inbox size to virtually nothing), to more positive (e.g. greater integration of systems and applications).

    Either way, Neil has achieved his goal for the greater good of the company.

    Nice post! This might well have triggered a idea for something I should blog soon.



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