Selling BPM to your Organization

Starting into the breakout sessions here at Gartner BPM 2011 in Baltimore, Elise Olding, with some help from Joel Kiernan of Altera, gave a presentation on selling BPM within your organization. This is about selling that first project internally as well as expanding your BPM initiative beyond the first project: leveraging your success so far and your business-focused BPM definition to see how it can be applied with other opportunities. Like any good sales pitch, you need to have content that is relevant, compelling and repeatable. I wrote about expanding BPM adoption within your organization in a recent article series for Global 360, and covered some of the same issues about generalizing beyond that first project into a BPM program.

Kiernan discussed their own case study at Altera (a semiconductor company), starting with how they had to understand their key business processes and communicate this to the steering committee responsible for the business process projects. They’re early in their journey, but have put together the storyline for how BPM will roll out in their organization: identify the right processes, do some as-is and to-be process analysis including external best practices, implement process/system changes, then move into ongoing process improvement.

As Olding discussed, there will need to be different messages for different internal audiences: senior executives are interested in how BPM will improve performance, competitiveness and operational flexibility; line of business managers are interested in operational goals including reducing errors and rework, and gaining visibility into processes for themselves and their management; front-line workers want to know how it will make their work easier, more interesting and more effective.

As an aside, I get the feeling that Gartner presenters have been coached by someone who really likes complex analogies woven throughout the presentation: in the keynote, Ken McGee used a courtroom analogy throughout the presentation, and here Olding is using a film-making analogy with “trailers”, “setting” and “engaging the cast”. It was also a bit of a strange segue to involve the Altera person for only about two minutes when they were really just starting in their process, although I have to give her credit for sharing the stage with a customer, since that’s pretty rare at any Gartner events that I’ve attended in the past. Would have been great to hear from someone further along in the process, and maybe a bit more from them than just two slides.

She covered some of what you actually want to communicate, as well as the who and how of the communication, stressing that you need to achieve buy-in (or at least understanding) from a lot of different stakeholders in order to reach that tipping point where BPM is seen by your organization as a key enabler for business improvement. She changed the format a bit to get people working on their own process issues, giving everyone time to jot down and discuss their challenges in each of the steps of selling BPM internally, then calling on a couple of audience members to share their thoughts with the room. This format shift caused a bit of loss of focus (and a bit of down time for those of us who aren’t really into this form of audience participation), although she was able to bring the experiences of the audience members in alignment with the material that she was presenting. Not surprisingly, one of the key messages is on the business process competency center (what Gartner calls the center of excellence) and the methodology that they employ with customers to make a BPCC successful within an organization. Success, in that case, is measured completely by how well you can sell BPM inside the organization.

4 thoughts on “Selling BPM to your Organization”

  1. Does a BPCC equate to a BPM Governance model? It would be interesting to hear Gartner’s perspective on utilizing a BPM Governance model in conjunction with an iterative approach to BPM implementation. One of the larger challenges our clients are facing is migrating to an agile/iterative methodology and trying to fit inside of a rigid governance model that is more focused on traditional command and control chains of command.

    Success should be defined much broader than how many BPM projects are sold within an organization. The ability to successfully deliver projects and drive business value is a much better measuring stick IMHO.

  2. Brandon, they’re not equivalent, but often go hand-in-hand since establishing a governance model is usually done by the BPCC as it formalizes. I agree, a lot of governance models don’t fit all that well with agile/iterative methodologies; I meet a lot of resistance there as well.

  3. In had a very heated debate today on what is BPM. The question was can you have BPM without a technology solution to support the change. The argument put forward was that as BPM is a management as well as a technology view you can do process improvement, for example a lean six sigma project and still call this a BPM project. I vehementLY disagreed and stated that BPM is about process improvement techniques support by technology solutions. If the technology aspect is not present it is not BPM it is something else. What’s your view?

  4. Nicholas, if you look at a history of the term BPM, it was used by the analysts (Gartner and Forrester) in the early 2000’s to mean process improvement and automation technology. Then, some change happened, and by 2005, they were both giving it dual definitions: the methodologies of process improvement (including things such as Six Sigma that can be completely independent of technology) plus the technology to support and automate process improvement. I feel that it was a confusing shift, and that the term BPM probably should have been left tied to technology, while using some other term (process improvement, perhaps?) for the methodologies. However, that’s not how the analysts are currently defining the market, so I have to be careful to say BPMS when I mean the technology, and BPM when I mean the methodology. Often, I slip.

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