Top Ten Tips for Business Process Projects

Nailed it!  My picture is a perfect 10!
I recently read Jacob Ukelson's post: top 10 tips for integrating a start-up after an acquisition.

One thing that struck me about these top ten tips is that a lot of them apply equally validly to ensuring a BPM project is appropriately managed, and the resulting solution integrated into your enterprises.

Let's go through these and see:

Tip 1 - Make sure that someone is thinking about the day after. In M&A Jacob was referring to ensuring that the focus isn't just on the process of the integration but also on determining how things will run when the whole integration effort is finished. With BPM this is equally as important. Somebody who can ensure that the effort put in by the implementation teams is mirrored by the effort needed to ensure smooth running of new (or improved) processes on day one.

Tip 2, 3 & 4 - Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. As Jacob says, you can never communicate enough. This is equally as vital a comment when major change is happening to a department, a region, or an enterprise as a result of process implementation or modification. There will be fear, uncertainty and doubt on the part of the business. They will look at a lot of what is being done and consider that it is 'getting in the way' of allowing them to work. Appropriate communication will ensure they understand the importance of the BPM effort and their role in making it happen. This is also very important if there isn't a common language between implementation team and users.

Tip 5 - First do no harm  This is an interesting tip because the definition of harm is very fluid depending on who you ask. If you are a dyed-in-the-wool long time employee who has worked in the same department for several years, has their own way of doing things and is comfortable with the work arounds, the short cuts and the omissions that can form part of your daily work, when someone comes in and want to replace these with a new, shiny process you will feel uncomfortable. You will see the possibility for control to get away from you and you will interpret this as 'harm'. But in the big scheme of things it is just old habits dying hard. But, likewise this applies to the BPM team who may come in with an attitude of "There is a big problem here so we need to ensure we do something to fix it".  As a result they may ride rough shod over parts of the organisation before taking an opportunity to review what is the right way to do things rather than the quick way to do things. Do no harm!

Tip 6 - Get help. Thinking that process management is something that can be done in isolation, or can be done by someone with little knowledge of existing systems, departments and work, is likely to result in a failure. So ensure that the user base are involved in the process. Ensure that help is taken wherever it can be. After all, these people know their environment far better than you do. Make sure you use that knowledge whenever and wherever possible.

Tip 7 - Visit Early, Visit often. How many projects have you been in where the project team meet the implementation goal and then immediately transition off onto other projects leaving the newly implemented processes to work purely with the users? This is a recipe for disaster. Ensure you keep project team members in the loop. Keep up to date with how processes are running. Meet early and meet often!

Tip 8 - Remember that the company acquired is different than your own, with their own unique culture. Or - to put this into a BPM context - remember that the company having their processes implemented is not your own and that culture is the biggest thing you'll need to overcome to make your project successful.

Tips 9 & 10  - Make sure you remember why you did the transaction. Or - from a BPM point of view - remember why you have made process changes. It is easy to get lost in politics, budgets and the management of change in the user base. But being able to stand back and remember the situation as it was prior to the project starting is a great way of focusing people and helping them understand why you have made the changes you have.

Sure, not all the tips from Jacob's article translate neatly to a BPM context, but there are enough there to ensure that sooner or later a few of them will be relevant to the project you're currently working on.

How many of these do you recognise? Which ones are missing?

Reminder: 'The Perfect Process Project Second Edition' is now available. Don't miss the chance to get this valuable insight into how to make business processes work for you. Click this link and follow the instructions to get this book.

All information is Copyright (C) G Comerford
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