9 Jun 2011

The Do’s and Don’ts of BPM, Part Two: The Don’ts

Previously, we looked at the main practices of successful BPM. In addition to using those suggestions, here is a list of common mistakes to avoid whenever implementing a new BPM process.

The Don’ts of BPM

No I in Team (and be careful of the one in IT):

Planning takes everyone. No input or concern is too small. What might seem a tiny issue on the grand scheme of things on day one, could be the stone that brings down the giant on day 1,283. This is especially true for many of the IT professionals, not because of their flaws, but because often their input can be the most valuable. Many BPM processes fail on a technical level, and if the technology aspect of a modern business doesn’t work, the business itself is usually doomed.

Many companies undervalue the immense impact of their IT department, and IT professionals can often feel like disenfranchised parts of a company that operate outside of the normal strictures of the corporation. It is vital to make sure the IT department and the CIO of the company are just as integral to the testing process as everyone else. They need to be ready to flex and bend, because much of the technical success will be resting on their shoulders. They need to be prepared and the other members of the company need to be willing to shoulder some of the IT responsibility as well.

In addition, customers must be consulted. The front end of a business is where the faults that can’t be seen from within the business are. The greatest resource in BPM development is the people that are going to reap the benefits of it. While customers are going to give conflicting results, contradictory statements, and will never agree on anything, their view must be taken into account. That is the beating heart of BPM, and the greatest nightmare. Even if they cannot truly be fixed, knowing ahead of time the complaints that will arise at least gives preparation for the flood.

No one is to be excluded. Do not ever think an issue is trivial or insignificant just because it seems that way. Do not prejudge where the weight of the shift to BPM is going to fall.

Don’t Sweat Too many Details:

It seems contradictory to the idea that the BPM process should be beat to death before it is ready to go to say that the small stuff shouldn’t be sweated too much. It actually isn’t. The reason for this is to remember the first rule: Be flexible. In the planning stages, everything should be addressed, that is true. However, even with the best planning team on the planet, given unlimited amounts of time and resources will still not be able to predict the dozen things that are going to go wrong on the first day that the BPM system goes into effect. That is the nature of the beast.

The planning stage is important to prepare everyone for the devils they know. The company is forewarned and forearmed against those mistakes, holes, and pitfalls, but not against the ones that are yet to happen. In the machining industry there is a saying: There are those that have crashed, and those that will crash. It isn’t a matter of will something go wrong, but only a question of when.

The planning stage was to combat the true catastrophes; to guard the Achilles Heels. That was the training phase. Once the marathon begins, every stumble and misstep cannot become all-consuming. It should be handled with as much care and grace as possible. This is part of the gradual growth. These snags will happen, but when they do, patiently untie them. Do not panic, do not flail, do not gnash teeth or tear out hair. Fix it just like every issue before.

Don’t Duck and Cover

Under no circumstances can a business afford to bury its head in the sand. This is the culmination of everything else. Nothing else matters if any part of the company decides that something can remain broken. For far too long, far too many businesses did nothing about their gaps and rifts but apologize, shrug, and say “That’s just the way it is” or “That’s just how it is done.” The mantra of any business with a BPM process installed should be to grow, change, adapt, plan, develop.

A BPM business should be like the Hydra. It should proudly present its head to be cut off time and again only to rebound twice as strong and twice as adept. Hiding from problems is contrary to everything BPM stands for. Many BPM systems have fallen away because the company refused to remove the infected burr that rotted it away from the inside out; something that could have been fixed but was shuffled off by employees and administrators.

A business that uses a BPM process should be rewarding the individuals that come forward with the most questions, complaints, problems, issues, and headaches for the company instead of the person that is performing within the parameters of their job, following orders. Those that see and address the real day-to-day nightmares, those that have solutions or see potentials for streamlining should be celebrated in a BPM business, rather than those that can follow company charter and archaic, anachronistic, outmoded methodology.


BPM can potentially be the prodigal advent that begins to drive business into something far more holistic than it has been in the past, but it is not an easy road. It requires adaptability. It requires time and patience. It requires planning to the point of psychosis. It requires listening to everyone and excluding none. It requires being able to realize the problems without allowing them to disrupt the path of the company. Above all it requires being able to face the ugly truth so that those fears can be dispelled and wayward components brought back into the fold.

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