22 May 2011

Three Crucial Best Practices for the CIO’s BPM Pitch

Managing and improving a business’ operations and management has traditionally been the domain of a COO in conjunction with departmental Directors and Managers. However, with the advent of IT, the CIO has become a critical component of business operations, since so much of operations is hinged on technology and the functionality of business solutions.

In this way, Business Process Management (BPM) has very much become the domain of the CIO, with his or her BPM approach being carried out and implemented primarily by the IT department.

This shift in leadership for how to streamline and improve business processes for businesses requires a careful consideration of BPM best practices, so that new changes to systems can be implemented in a timely, cost-effective manner that follow realistic milestones, yield measurable results, and bring non-IT business personnel onboard with the new changes.

The following article outlines some basic BPM best practices that all CIOs should endeavour follow, and that all business executives should be aware of.

Use Limited IT Budgets To Implement BPM-level Changes

There’s no doubt that flat economic conditions worldwide are leading businesses to cut spending in various departments, including IT. However, while the overall budgets for IT expenditures may be down, analysts indicate that businesses are indeed willing to continue to spend on approaches such as BPM. Mark McDonald, a group vice president at Gartner and author of a recent study, commented that businesses “ . . . are using IT to change the way the company works, to make it more effective and efficient.” Because of this, “CIOs are essentially going to have the same resources as last year to address a whole new range of problems.”

As a result, a CIO can offer the most measurable results in improving his or her businesses’ bottom line this year by finding creative ways to spend less in other aspects of IT and pour as many resources into fine-tuning operations vis a vis BPM. Chances are, if you are able to demonstrate cost-cutting and improved efficiency from your BPM planning, the money will be made available to do in the budget to make it a reality.

However, if you still find your BPM endeavours underfunded, it may require a more creative approach to using resources that are already have available, rather than investing in new tools and technology. If you can pair a compelling BPM plan together with a lean approach using in-house assets, it will no doubt be a winning pitch to the other executives.

Measuring BPM in “bite-sized” ROI Milestones

Because approaches such as BPM and SOA are seen as somewhat revolutionary compared to traditional approaches, often times BPM is seen as a “silver bullet” to solve enormous challenges over long-term time periods. For a CIO, having an executive staff with these kinds of expectations for long-term BPM efforts is a recipe for disaster and disappointment.

Planning your BPM strategy should begin with the realisation that each step along the way should be comprised with a short- to medium- term timeframe and goal in a limited setting or department. Derek Miers, founder of BPM Focus, says, “People start off doing BPM to solve some big problem — don’t start there. Find something that is going to self contain, some small-scope project. If you can succeed at a small project [with which] you can deliver value and do quickly – like in six to 10 weeks —  the  business will go, ‘Wow, can we have some more of that?'”

This sentiment is exactly what you want to foment among the influencers and decision makers on the executive team.

Think of the first aspects of your BPM plan as labs that will prove your thesis. And most importantly: don’t seek to implement any new BPM projects that you are not fundamentally sure will yield close to the ROI that you project. In the early stages of BPM implementation, an assured “quick win” is critical.

Bring SOA and BPM Together from the Start

As a CIO, development is your domain. As a result, you have the opportunity to wield not only the BPM approach to improving operations, but also the SOA component as well. BPM is a concept that even non-IT professionals can grasp (we outline the differences between BPM and SOA in another article), but SOA allows you to set up the blueprint for a new BPM vision.

Even if the SOA schematic is somewhat convoluted and cryptic for the business professionals in your organisation, it is essential that you have the SOA framework worked out in tandem with the BPM principles. Otherwise, you run the risk of presenting a BPM approach that will be too esoteric; business stakeholders need to have assurances that the theory can truly be put into practice.

It may be, then, that your IT team might need help in conceiving of the SOA blueprint that complements your BPM approach. If this is the case, an SOA consultant may be the best approach for having the right team in place for building the needed SOA framework.

It can be a hard sell to convince an executive staff of a brave, new approach to business processes. But if you follow these three key principles to pitching your project, you will have the best chance of success at gaining the go-ahead as well as the intended results.

Interested in learning more about how you can bring to bear BPM and SOA approaches toward improving you own business’s processes? Visit us at integrella.com for more information!

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