The Case for a BPM Sustainability Management Team

Your organization has adopted Agile methodology for developing business applications, has a strong support structure in place to address any end-user concerns, and yet will still find BPM applications fail in the long run. Why? The missing piece is sustainability management through BPM governance to ensure continuous improvement.

Agile teaches us to quickly pivot based on ever-changing business requirements. We first introduce the minimum viable product to production, then go through a series of iterations to finally release the final product, each time altering the requirements based on the business prioritization and just-in-time acceptance criteria. This highly tailored application is a perfect fit, with high Return on Investment (ROI) and plenty of active users.

Soon your organization realizes its initial value in the BPM investment and is eager to implement the second, third, and forth application. You carefully choose projects based on the magic trio of technology, fit, complexity, and value, but the pipeline explodes. The development team is needed for these new applications – each one, again, developed perfectly for the business and with a high initial ROI.

Your highly trained support staff are able to address end user concerns for the live applications, make small modifications to processes as needed, and implement administrative changes, such as updating values in a drop-down list.

Sounds great. What’s the catch? The business is still changing. If the return on investment is continually monitored, you will notice it slowly goes down with only support managing the applications.

Sustainability Management provides a continuous measure of business return on investment and a proactive approach toward identifying small releases that will ensure the long-term increased value of the application for the business.

Return on Investment over Time

From a tactical perspective, Sustainability Management is a team of individuals who are both competent in development of the software itself and have business analysis soft skills. The team may be a subset of an overall Center of Excellence (CoE), is tightly aligned with the overall BPM program management, and often reports up to the BPM governance committee.

This team leverages multiple avenues to identify potential improvements for all live applications with no existing development team: long-term relationships with business advocates for each application, identification of recurring support ticket requests, re-evaluation of existing applications based on updated best practices, and the monitoring of outlets used to handle exception flows and edge cases, such as through a social interface.

Once a potential improvement is identified, the complexity, potential ROI, and business priority must be assessed. Medium or low complexity items with high ROI and high business priority should be taken on directly by the Sustainability Management team, with high complexity improvements passed along to BPM program management for potential new full projects.

This team is also responsible for the continual measure of return on investment and usage for each production application, as well as the communication of that measurement to the broader BPM community.

Finally, this team is often called upon to provide tier 3 support for these BPM applications, ensuring that the applications have steadfast technical experts identified even after the original development team has gone.

Unlike the CoE, however, the Sustainability Management team should not be concerned with reviewing development for new applications, providing and maintaining best practices to the larger BPM development community within your organization, or evangelizing BPM use to potential stakeholders.

A Sustainability Management team is the key to getting the highest long-term value out of your BPM investment.

Stacey Wright

Stacey Wright

Stacey Wright is a Program Manager at Macedon Technologies, the leading US delivery partner of Appian. She has helped guide many organizations on their way to a bright, agile future utilizing BPM, and is passionate about making clients' lives measurably easier through Business Process Management. Stacey was a key author of Appian's recommended project methodology, and has presented at Appian's premiere annual event, Appian World.
Stacey Wright

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  1. Hello, Happy New Year.
    Find the time of existing stakeholders to give time to sustainability team is challenge…

    • Stacey Wright says

      It absolutely is, Claude – most people have the mindset of, “the project is done! We don’t need to worry about it anymore.”

      This is a continual conversation with stakeholders, who rarely see the value in it until people start complaining (or worse – people simply stop using the application). I tried to write this article as simply as possible, to hopefully help the message sink in more quickly to prevent those worse case scenarios.

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