Part of the fun of shifting from being a process specialist to starting a process improvement based business (BPM vendor) is the influencing aspect of business. Establishing the problem is critical, equally how and why your solution is the (best) solution for that problem.
In the case of BPM, the business problem is actually a glaring, systematic failure in managing critical business knowledge, where existing information fails even the simplest tests.
Let’s face it, there’s no major surprise when you ask business teams about their processes and get the typical response ‘Oh yes we know our business, we’ve got our processes recorded, absolutely. Somewhere. But (insert excuse here) and so teams don’t really use that information.
So in ‘project speak’: we need you to start each project by confirming the Current State processes
In layman’s terms: we really don’t have a reliable record of how we do things around here. We have in the past, it’s actually been captured at great expense a few times, but we’d like to pay for you to do that again. You’re probably going to write it down in some technical format that if we’re honest, our teams can’t really follow nor navigate easily but that’s fine. We’ll probably avoid owning this knowledge after the project again, and we’ll just leave it to teams carry on business. They know what they’re doing.
It’s still acceptable in this day and age for business leaders to accept the risks this poses to operations, to customer service, to staff morale. Fine, it’s their business. I’m not sure I’d be betting my mortgage if I was employed there.
What does surprise me is the blinkered view from the many specialists that are perfectly happy, and indeed feed the status quo.
I recently presented Promapp to a team of project managers for an ERP vendor. These are people for whom the status quo is downright comfortable thank you very much. If we revisit the implications of weak process ownership from their perspective… you need to start each project by confirming the Current State processes. We can help you with that. In fact we use (insert ‘best practice’ here) from (insert global vendor here).
So back to my meeting. I presented a step by step analysis of the weaknesses of the current approaches, and why this results in valuable information (it’s not knowledge) being almost entirely unsustainable and unusable after a realtively short period of time.
A project manager then summed up their perception of the value of systematic, ongoing process management. Of process ownership, of collaboration, of ongoing change management, of the advantages of mobility, of social forums and team feedback & innovation…
‘Yeah. It’s prettier than Visio.’