Are We Looking at the Right Tools?

Although Business Process Management is widely used, it still has a long way to go to saturate the BPM market. Recently, It has been implemented by a variety of companies worldwide, reaching different levels of Maturity. However, despite all efforts in to adopt the right systems and tools, the methodologies used, and the changes in strategic plans to make them more aligned with the company’s processes, have not been successfully achieved in all quarters. Many people are still not convinced of the importance of Process Management. The teams still do not collaborate within the processes unless they are ordered to do so..Why not?

The evolution in BPM has been systematically documented through BPM surveys. We already have years of data covering different continents. What do these reports tell us?

The BPTrends posting “The State of the BPM Market” 2014, points out that “most organizations are at level 2 on the CMM maturity scale” [1]. One of the conclusions of the research was that “there has been little development in the market, On the whole,. Individual companies may have become more process-oriented, invested in BPMS or created a business process architecture, but most companies have not. The state of BPM, as we defined it in 2005 is roughly the same today.” [1]. The conclusion is not different in the 2015 survey: “We have asked the same questions for a decade now and received essentially the same answers. The respondents have changed, and now include more business and IT representatives, and through it all the answers to our questions remain the same. The answers reflected a small change in 2011, but returned to the “standard pattern” in 2013 and remain the same in 2015. Most respondents think that BPM is about managing process change throughout the business. They don’t think it simply refers to a new software technology. Most organizations are at Level 2 on the CMMI maturity scale. They have invested in defining their processes, but have not invested in aligning processes throughout the enterprise.” [2]. The 2020 report’s Executive summary discusses technology, and mentions how enthusiasm is necessary to motivate people to work on Process-related initiatives, otherwise they look for something more trendy [3].

When I look at the reports, I see a lot of interesting questions being answered, but also a lot missing. As a reference, the BPM 6×5 model [4] details 6 areas of development for any company to grow in Maturity in BPM (see graphic below). A company can only move to a next level if it evolves in all of these areas.

Are-We-Looking-Right-Tools_fig1

I don’t see all the six areas receiving the same level of attention on the state of the industry surveys I have seen. For example, in 2013 [1], the companies are questioned about the results observed in:

  • Documentation of tacit knowledge,
  • Process standardization,
  • Increase of process efficiency,
  • Increase of quality of products and services in view of increase of customer satisfaction,
  • Improvement of monitoring structure and of operational visibility for decision making,
  • Implementation of strategy through transformation of key-processes,
  • Increase of employees’ satisfaction and development of organizational climate,
  • Support to specific event (merge, acquisition, out-sourcing).

We have been tracking elements of Strategic Alignment, Governance, Technologies and Methodologies used, but little attention has been given to the “People” and “Culture” areas. I am not suggesting we are not doing anything in these areas, but we are not looking at them in the context of the “BPM world”. This means we are also not identifying and sharing best practices. What is being done around the world to increase the team’s knowledge in process management? How do we turn understanding of the benefits into actual attitude, and readiness to lead in process-related initiatives? What are we doing so that the leaders see process management not as an extra burden, but as a tool to improve their work and the team’s work?

I suggest we add another section to each one of these reports to look at people. We could examine the roles each company has in process governance and how people react to them. We could dig into how new employees are onboarded in each company and what kind of material is given as reference during the training. We could try to find out how many companies have Super User Networks [5], how do they support the teams, and how much did they decrease Helpdesk issues by providing better training. We could discover what actually motivates people to refer to the procedures when solving a conflict.

We have put a lot of tools in place to support the processes and make them more effective. Let’s start focusing on the tools we put in place to support the people who are executing the process.

Bibliography

  1. Harmon, P. & Wolf, C., 2014. The State of the BPM Market – 2014, BPTrends. https://bptrends.info/wp-content/uploads/BPTrends-State-of-BPM-Survey-Report.pdf.
  2. Harmon, P. & Wolf, C., 2016. The State of Business Process Management 2016. https://bptrends.info/wp-content/uploads/2015-BPT-Survey-Report.pdf
  3. Harmon, P. & Garcis, J. The State of Business Process Management 2020. https://bptrends.inforends-surveys/
  4. Rizoto-Vidala-Pesoa, L. M. The Super User role as a tool to progress in maturity in Business Process Management – a study case of Cabot Latvia. Master thesis, University of Latvia, 2017. https://dspace.lu.lv/dspace/handle/7/36320
  5. Rizoto-Vidala-Pesoa, L. M. The Super User Role: An Extended Concept, 2018, BPTrends, https://bptrends.info/the-super-user-role-an-extended-concept/

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Laila Māra Pesoa

Laila Māra Pesoa is a process and knowledge management expert with a focus on organizational learning and continuous improvement. Having started as CAPM certified by PMI (Project Management Institute) and graduated in Business Administration in lbmec Business School, Laila developed for her final Bachelor's project the Model BPM 6x5 (BPM 6 by 5: a self-assessment model to measure and develop action plans for the company to grow in Maturity in Business Process Management (BPM)). However, her focus has gone beyond structuring the company's processes. By combining concepts of BPM, Knowledge Management, and Project Management, she works to enable the company's growth in Maturity in Business Process Management by developing on people a knowledge-sharing and process-oriented mindset to enable and strengthen a Continuous Improvement culture. This approach has led to the creation of the consulting firm Process-U (Process-u.com). Her Master's studies at the University of Latvia in Strategic management & Leadership concluded with a Master's thesis proposing the use of the Super User role (both process and knowledge specialist) to enable the company's growth in maturity in Business Process Management. Now Laila is an ambassador of the Super User concept, and part of the Leader Board of SunSource (https://www.sunsource.io/), a community dedicated to Super Users and their leaders. This goes hand-in-hand with her experience in systems development. In Cabot Corporation, Laila had a key role in the upgrade of the company's ERP system by supporting testing, progress follow-up, quality control of testing evidence, and improvement of testing scripts master for all company's process areas. Laila has led projects both in non-governmental associations and companies, in Brazil and Latvia, on National, European (Erasmus+ projects), and Global levels. She is fluent in Portuguese, English, Spanish, and Latvian.
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