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Gartner Symposium ITxpo 2012 - Breaking the Barriers to Enterprise BPM Success with Janelle Hill

How Social BPM can Transform Process Improvement

Bob Ragsdale's avatar

By: Bob Ragsdale

October 25, 2012 | EventsAnalystsSocial BPM

It's the last session of the week at Gartner's Symposium ITxpo, and Janelle Hill is presenting regarding how to identify and overcome barriers to BPM success (the discipline of BPM, not the technology). This is the session I have been looking forward to all week. After five days of force-feeding my brain technical information, I would normally be quite tired. This year however, the quality of content, coupled with the adrenaline coursing through my veins, has me on the edge of my seat.

We Need More Successes

Right out of the gate Hill hits us this metric: Only 10 percent of the organizations pursuing BPM achieve enterprise success. 10 percent, really? That's it?

Next, she delivers us this one: The number one barrier to successful BPM adoption is people.

We're off to a pretty dramatic start. It is clear that even after a week of delivering numerous hour-long presentations and after conducting multiple, daily one-on-one customer-analyst inquiries, Hill is still full of energy.

She goes on to explain that cross-functional BPM targets the "white space" between job functions and, as a result, challenges and triggers organizational conflict. In this sense it is a people issue because the barrier of organizational politics comes into play. Hill highlights that the cross-functional approach to business process management initiatives tends to make individuals feel insecure and threatened by tampering with their:

  • Power base
  • Bonuses
  • Job security
  • Expertise
  • Priorities

…and these issues have nothing to do with the technology itself.

Use Social BPM to Achieve Enterprise Success

In swift, Gartner-like fashion, Hill moved directly to the solution, stipulating that the key to solving these issues is to move away from Traditional BPM (Doing by Design) and to instead adopt Social BPM (Design by Doing). The goal should not be efficiency, it should be effectiveness.

Hill made a very compelling case for the adoption of Social BPM and its more collaborative, unstructured process approach. She noted that “process discovery happens as you model,” and that you don't need a process modeling tool when you design by doing (shameless self-promotion : this is also a good description of how we build applications with entellitrak; this approach is more supportive of unstructured data and processes, such as case management systems).

Hill went on to note that by using a Social BPM approach, organizations can achieve:

  • Increased cross-boundary connections
  • A more collaborative environment in which individuals can contribute more and their contributions are valued more
  • Improved buy-in and adoption

Hill highlighted three success stories:

  • By linking their value proposition to their business processes and clearly communicating that to their organization, Sloan Valve was able to get their employees to understand how BPM efforts directly related to performance of the business. As a result BPM implementations were tremendously successful.
  • Housing builder Archstone had a very form-driven business, featuring more than 900 complex forms. As such, they built a cross-functional team that involved all parts of the business. To ensure the project's success they embarked on a massive internal campaign communicating what was in it for the employees, which again promoted success.
  • Ottawa Hospital’s objective was to improve overall operations. Their solution was to establish a shared purpose: "Deliver better patient care, with zero defects." To achieve this goal, management employed everything from deal-making to empathy to distraction (along with good facilitation methods) and easily overcame resistance to the BPM program.

Social BPM's Language of Success

In terms of how you accomplish this in an organization, Hill advises that you "empower employees to break down organizational 'white spaces' with social collaboration." Promote more types of collaboration; online white spaces and sharing; mobile video; and smartphones. Hill challenged attendees to stop thinking about smartphones, chat, and other new technologies as disruptive. “Think of it as a communication channel,” she advised. “This can be very important when you want them to collaborate.” Hill also suggested that we change the language to better engage stakeholders:

Hill summed up the session by stating two powerful themes: “less is more in social BPM” and that we should strive to be “less formal and more social.” She advised attendees to use fewer prescribed "best practices" and more “emergent process designs” to be open to “less control.”

I was very impressed with the direction in which Hill pointed us. Her description of the challenges we face, as well as her proposed solutions, really resonate with me. It was very exciting to get a glimpse into the skills and tools that will make Social BPM the primary path to achieving enterprise BPM success.

About the Author

Bob Ragsdale is Director of Marketing at MicroPact. Bob has over 20 years of experience leading the international marketing and branding efforts of software and technology companies at nearly every stage of development.


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