Changing your business process: "Why do process projects fail?" A few answers!

I recently posted a question on Linked-In which asked "Why do so many projects that change processes fail?". This is, of course, connected with the subject of "The Perfect Process Project" and hopefully would unearth additional information for the next edition.

The responses came in thick and fast until - after about 5 days - I closed the question to allow me to review them. Overall I had 20 responses which ranged from "Us and Them thinking gets in the way" right through to a 500 word mini essay which included a copy of a media interview given by the respondent.

All the answers were interesting in their own way, and they all gave me food for thought. However, a number of the respondents didn't specificaly address the issue I was raising (which was probably because I wasn't clear in my original requirement). My question was specifically related to why processes implemented by projects don't work, NOT about why projects per se fail. A lot of answers addressed the second facet.

Of those that answered the first question there did seem to be a common theme. I had comments such as "Successful process change must be rooting [sic] in the real need for change", and "lack of a true commitment from Senior Management", and "Good communication is an essential element".

Other comments included
  • One is that change, in general is difficult for most people. The other is that very often the person suggesting or promoting the change is different to the person who needs to implement the change
  • The people designing the updated process don't take the time to learn the who, what, when, where, and why of the current process
  • It is important for us to remember that key players aren't necessarily those who hold formal power, but also those with informal power. It's great if a VP signs off on my project, but if a key manager from a different organization is not committed to the change the entire project may fail.
  • Lack of accountibility if the new process is not followed
  • The answer is sadly very evident -they're 'done to' projects. The people who do the work today are not seriously involved
  • Last but not the least: None of the managers have an end-to-end process view & they all have a narrow departmental view. So structure of an organization also plays a crucial role in process improvement projects
  • Few processes are isolated. Every process intersects other process. If one does not understand those intersections and their impact, a changes process will be useless
Thanks to everyone who contributed a thought or comment to the discussion.

The top answer I picked, however was from Lisa Matthews, Vice President at GMAC Insurance, who said
"A wise Coach taught me an equation that proves particularly true in this scenario: P (Process) x D (Dissatisfaction or Pain with the Current Process) x V (Clear Vision) > R (Resistance to Change).

It has proved true time and time again. One can always map back the lack of success for process improvement efforts to one of the three components against a company’s or team’s resistance to change. The resistance can show up in a myriad of ways from lack of governance to no buy-in to scope trot."

She then went on to talk about some of the factors that equate to points I raise in the book regarding ownership and measurements of results. In my subsequent e-mail conversations with her she mentioned a further issue which was
". . . the basic A.D.D. of corporations today. It is very difficult for large corporations to FOCUS long enough to see and embrace the positive changes the process may fulfill."

Thanks, Lisa for those insights. I will look at merging these into the next edition of "The Perfect Process Project" and in the meantime a complementary copy is on its way to you.

How do these issues link in with your experience of implementing process change as part of a project?

(Photo courtesy apesara. Released under a Creative Commons Attribution licence)

Technorati Tags: , ,

10 Steps to a Successful CRM Implementation - A CRM Whitepaper

One of the key items that came out of my recent eBook "The Perfect Process Project" relates to the fact that projects do tend to suffer from common problems.

This white paper is related to a similar topic but it is focused on CRM projects. A CRM solution can have an enormously positive effect on your business's bottom line, but a lot can go wrong during a rollout if you haven't planned properly.

This White Paper addresses topics such as:
  • Budgeting realistically
  • Training employees
  • Managing the implementation
I, obviously, have a close affiliation with CRM given that it is, basically, a business process that needs to be managed appropriately. It is also (or has been recently) one of the key processes in the news.

This white paper is totally free and is definitely worth downloading. Click the graphic to download

(Note this is a third party white paper and is not affiliated with GCP Consulting or the Process Cafe. Registration is required and you need to be in the US or Canada to download)

Technorati Tags: , ,

Rev Response

 RevResponse Review
There's a new referral site in town and I want to let you know about them. The main reason for this is because they provide free information which readers of this blog will find useful.

The site is called Rev Response and they have a huge list of periodicals and White papers on a whole range of diverse and interesting properties. For example how about a document from Microsoft detailing the latest in mobile communication (very appropriate after the Apple debacle with the new iPhone?).

Everything from this site is free and the range is quite astounding!

But here's where it gets really good. They are an affiliate programme which means you can sign up and put them on your web site! Just go to Rev Response and sign up. Add a couple of items on your site and whenever anyone signs up you will end up with a nice little commission.

Talking of commission the minimum commission on a sign-up is $1.50 the maximum is .. considerably more than $1.50.

From time to time I will be adding links to some of these items in the body of certain posts or in the sidebar. This will let you, the reader know that I have identified something useful - and free - to you and you should get over there quickly and check it out

Let's see where this goes, shall we?

So what's in the ebook?

You will have seen the press release and the teaser's I've put out about my eBook, but before you buy it you'll probably want to know a little more about what you'll be getting, won't you?

I've worked in IT for over 20 years - usually in big projects. One thing that struck me as I worked through all these projects is that there are key failure reasons running through them all. The Gartner Group estimate that the majority of IT projects do not deliver the value they were supposed to deliver, and this is equally true for projects involving business process work.


Because people do not manage business process projects correctly!

There are several definitions and objectives one must understand to optimize the process project:

A) You must understand the key reasons a process project fails.
From the time a lot of projects are first presented to the users, right to the time the project team finishes and leaves the final product in a live environment, there are failure factors that occur. Learn what these are and how to avoid them.

B) You must understand the key items to be used to make a process project succeed.
Understand the few key items that must be in place to ensure your process project works appropriately. Learn about Comerford 3 Laws of Metrics and how they apply to your process. Understand the key role to be held by a Process Owner (and who that process owner must be), and learn the one HUGE factor that will make the difference between success and failure.

C) You must have the right people in the right roles on the project
Pretty straightforward eh? Makes sense? It is sense. In fact it's common sense. but the problem with common sense is that it's just not that common This book will identify who needs to be in what key role.

The book will look at
what currently happens in a lot of projects, why the current projects are failing, and the subject of TLA's (Three Letter Acronyms) and what to do with them. It will discuss what an ideal process will look like and talk about the ideal project to implement the ideal process.

There are lot's of other goodies in the book as well as some freebies thrown in for purchasing it.

This really is a book you should be reading if you have any involvement at all in running or managing processes and process projects. If you have a project budgeted at £5000/$10000 or more it's probably the best £5.99/$9.95 you'll spend

Find out more at the book's web page.

I hope you purchase and I hope you enjoy the book and find it useful.

Technorati Tags: , ,

"The Perfect Process Project" is released

Hampshire: England - GCP Consulting today announced the release of the new eBook "The Perfect Process Project". The book - the culmination of over 20 years experience working with and running projects - helps to identify the key success factors required to make a process definition or modification project run correctly.

"Most projects today will, in some way, affect the underlying processes in an organisation." says the book's author Gary Comerford, "Process change is fraught with difficulty if not dealt with appropriately. The book identifies where projects like this go wrong and proposes solutions. Did you know, for example, that the Gartner Group expect business process management efforts to grow by 35% this year? That's a huge number of projects that need to be appropriately managed."

Success for a project that defines or updates processes is mostly a result of what happens after the project itself has been completed. In many cases the organisation doesn't understand how best to either manage the process, measure the process or change the process.

The eBook will address these issues as well as showing the key mistakes that project managers make when running the actual projects.

The book is available from the following URL

About the company: GCP Consulting is a boutique process management consultancy formed to help companies identify and define process issues within their organisation. The company works in 2 modes: a) Contract: This is when you have a defined block of work with identified deliverables, and wish to engage GCP Consulting to help you achieve these goals. b) Ad Hoc: If your needs are less well defined and you are looking for someone to come in and provide consultancy on an ad-hoc basis (say during the project definition or "pre-sales" part of your project life-cycle) then GCP Consulting can be engaged on an this basis from as little as 1/2 day.

Contact can be made through the company website

Technorati Tags: , ,

"The way it's always been done" - (Take 2) : The Horse and Cart

In my earlier post on "The way its' always been done" I talked about the insurance company that stored documents for 30 days 'to let the ink dry' because that's the way it had always been done.

I got a call from my father recently who had read this post and said it reminded him of something he heard in a similar vein.

Many years ago a local dry cleaning company near him got bought out or taken over. The first thing the new owners did was send in the "Time & Motion" boys to work out if the business was operating the most efficient way. ('Time & Motion' sort of dates the story a bit, but the principle is still sound).

On investigating the business they came across something they couldn't understand:

The business had a delivery truck which would take out the dry cleaned clothes/sheets/napkins etc to the local businesses, drop them off and pick up dirty stuff to be cleaned for the following day. When the T&M guys charted the route the driver went they noticed that he took a very indirect route which would cross and double back on itself several times. Their calculations indicated that the truck was actually covering almost 3 times the distance a more sensible and direct route would take.

When they asked the drive why he took that particular routing he replied (you guessed it) "That's the way it's always been done". So of course a little more investigation was required.

It turns out that this route had been set in stone many years ago. So long ago, in fact, that the delivery truck at the time was actually a horse and cart. First thing in the morning - when the horse was fresh and the cart was full, they were able to tackle some of the steeper roads in the area to make deliveries. Later in the day - when the horse wasn't so fresh, but the cart still had a heavy load (remember the deliveries also picked up more items for cleaning) the horse would labour to climb the steep hills, so the route was taken which would minimise the climbing it had to do. This resulted in a the tortuous path which criss-crossed and double backed. When the transfer to motor vehicle had taken place years back no-one had questioned the routing and the new delivery driver had gone exactly the same way.

I don't have figures around this but I imagine the savings in fuel, time and wear and tear on the vehicle would have justified the cost of running a T&M study into this aspect of the business.

Yet another case of business process analysis being something that you can't afford not to do.

Where's the 'horse and cart' in your business?

Reminder: 'The Perfect Process Project - An eBook' is released soon. Don't miss the chance to get this valuable insight into how to make business processes work for you.

Current eMail subscribers as at (Friday 15th August 2008) get this free. Everyone else can go order it at this page (from Monday 18th August 2008)

For more about me check out my "About Me' page

All information is Copyright (C) G Comerford

The eBook is almost here!

I know I've been promising it for a while, but the ebook is finally ready.

The Perfect Process Project will be released at the beginning of next week with a price of £5.99 ($12).

As with a lot of these things there will be a couple of extras and freebies to go along with it and it will have some insight into managing process projects that I have picked up over the years.

I'll be posting the link at the start of business next Monday but - for those of you who want to get ahead of the curve and get the book for free, everyone who is on the Process Cafe mailing list by Friday evening (Midnight, BST) will receive a complimentary copy.

That's right, a whole free eBook just for making sure you're on the mailing list!

What's more, whenever I update the book with new research or feedback from readers, everyone who is on the mailing list will get the updated version. For free and gratis!

Subscribing to the mailing list couldn't be easier. Just enter your e-mail address into the box on the right hand side of the screen here.

I'll send you the pdf on Monday.

Royal Mail process glitch

Here's a little story that explains why certain companies are deemed to be more customer focused than others.

The Royal Mail here in England is commissioned by the monarch to deliver
the post to her subjects. They do this by running the Post Offices and
providing a fleet of post office vans to make a letter delivery
service. Obviously for this they charge an amount of money. This is in
the form of stamps. All this is pretty straightforward.

For many years they had a very simple system. You bought either a first
class stamp or, for slightly less, you bought a second class stamp. The
difference was the target delivery timeframe. For first class this was
usually next day, for second class it was a day or so later (although
this was not guaranteed).

However, recently they introduced a system where the postage was related not only to the class of delivery but also the weight and/or dimension of the package. So my A4 size envelope with 10 sheets of paper in it will now cost more to send than my DL size envelope with 1 sheet of paper. Which is fair enough, I suppose.

Last week the postman arrived at my door. He posted two letters through and
a card. I looked at the card. It was notification from the Post Office
that something had been sent to me with insufficient postage. Someone
had tried to send through the A4 envelope but had only paid for the DL
size envelope. Fair enough. Easy mistake to make.

Now here's the stupid thing. The postage was underpaid by 15p. The post office wrote and sent the note telling me the postage was underpaid and informing me that I would need to pay the 15p PLUS an additional £1 administration fee. If I didn't pay it then the letter would be sent back after a period of time.

So let me put this into context. Rather than send the letter to me with the postman (who was coming this way anyway) and asking me to pay the 15p extra, they added a layer of beaurocracy (and cost) which means I will need to pay a 660% premium to get the letter. On top of that I have to go and visit them to get the letter rather than them sending it to me.

So, in effect, someone has paid for the letter to be delivered to me and I now have to pay extra for the letter to be delivered and then go and pick it up myself!

What's wrong with this picture?

Well, from a process point of view it would seem to me that the obvious, customer focused, process would be as follows:

1) Identify amount of underpayment, flag the letter with a sticker
2) Deliver letter to door. Request underpayment
3) If no-one available, then request payment (with admin overhead) by leaving the card
4) Once payment is made, re-deliver the letter.

The overhead in doing this is minimal (The card has to be written and delivered anyway, so why not just knock on my door to see if I'm in).

Or am I missing something here?