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White Paper 10 Best Practices for BPM Implementation By Rodrigue Le Gall, Co-Founder & Chief Services

White Paper

10 Best Practices for BPM Implementation By Rodrigue Le Gall, Co-Founder & Chief Services Officer, BonitaSoft
10 Best Practices for BPM Implementation
By Rodrigue Le Gall, Co-Founder & Chief Services Officer, BonitaSoft

Business Process Management Overview

Business Process Management (BPM) is the discipline focused on optimizing the efficiency of a business. Although Business Process Management implementation has many immediate and long-term benefits, a poor start can jeopardize the overall success of the mission. The following steps and guidelines will help ensure the success of your organization's BPM implementation while minimizing the possibility of any potential setbacks.

  • 1. Don’t try to model how you should work --model how you actually work

When deploying BPM in your organization, you must establish a starting point. For instance, you could identify a benchmark for how people currently perform a given function at an optimal level of output and prepare a model of that, whether graphically or as a simple document. Once you’ve established these benchmarks based on actual performance, you can then establish a workflow model that you wish to implement.

  • 2. Think big, start smal l

There is considerable knowledge in any workplace that goes undocumented: emails, phone calls, chats, or other means. Organizations can use BPM to find that elusive information and then capture it in a basic flow model that shows how people are currently working. Before deciding which tasks or steps performed by people in an existing process can be improved, it is important to recognize the realities of their environments.

Individuals in an organization, department, or group may not realize how the process in which they are involved is connected to another process, which is in turn connected to another process, and so on. Modifying one process without proper planning may adversely affect other related processes as well. End-to- end business can be complicated and it is important to take a graded approach rather than forcing changes on the “big picture” all at once. However, it would be wrong to claim that the big picture is not important. It is best to start with a smaller, more easily manageable project that will produce measurable results while keeping the larger focus in mind.

  • 3. Involve All Project Stakeholders

Some common examples of processes that are easier to manage include filing expense reports, purchase orders, and other administrative tasks.

Though, the first implementation should be one in which real improvement actually makes a difference to the organization. This is mostly for the benefit of senior management, in order to convince them that future BPM endeavors will be worthwhile; however, the results will become even more effective if a large number of people notice it as well. No one will be impressed if the first application of BPM results in “improvements” like better handling of useless or truly unimportant tasks.

Another great debate in BPM circles lately has been focused on who should “own” the BPM project:

the process stakeholders who are using BPM as a

business tool or the IT experts who are designing, deploying, and maintaining the process applications.

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10 Best Practices for Business Implementation

Often, there are three major stakeholder roles involved in a BPM deployment. Since business users or functional owners are the people who actually know how the process works and who are most often responsible for its effectiveness, they must be involved during the process modeling phase. One example of such a person might be a purchasing director. Next, there are IT people who know how to transform the process model into business process applications. They understand the need for connecting the application with existing systems and are able to implement those connections. Lastly, there are end users— those who will eventually use the deployed application. Tilting ownership of BPM too far in one direction or the other poses a multitude of risks. On the one hand, it is important that any BPM deployment integrates seamlessly into your organization’s existing IT infrastructure.

On the other hand, it is also important to take process stakeholders (the business users working with BPM on a

daily basis) into account and recognize how they work. BPM is about automating both human and system interactions, so it is always critical to keep both elements in mind. IT teams should understand how the process stakeholders work and tailor their BPM deployment so that they can understand and interact with it.

Encourage as much collaboration as possible between developers and end users throughout the deployment process. IT can invest a lot of time developing the “perfect” BPM application, but unless they involve the end users that will be employing the process in their actual work, there is no guarantee that the two sides will ultimately make the project work. Conducting quick-and- dirty test deployment during development to get hands- on user feedback and check the usability of online forms can make all the difference between a BPM deployment that is quickly adopted and one that is quickly abandoned.

4. Choose t he Tool Based on Needs

BPM applications come in many different forms that are designed for different audiences. For instance, some solutions are tailored to business executives. These are mostly designed to track business processes with a primary emphasis on control, visibility and efficiency. Other tools are designed for software developers who do application development based on BPM constructs.

Typically, open source BPM solutions are preferred by developers due to the transparency of the code along in addition to providing an ecosystem of complementary solutions. Since these two classes of tools have completely opposing purposes, it is essential that your BPM implementation covers both roles with sufficient versatility.

5. Choose a Champion to Lead the Way

Cost is also an issue since BPM is an investment towards improving your organization's overall efficiency. As such, the total cost of ownership (TCO) should be taken into consideration; proprietary solutions usually have a “per- seat” license cost and possibly even additional operating costs as well (if deployed as software-as-a-service, for instance) whereas open source solutions tend to cost much less. For these reasons, proper BPM implementation requires an economical tool that is suited for everyone in your organization, though not necessarily at the same time. For instance, a tool may be used by executives to plan a BPM implementation and then by IT workers to actually develop it and make it work properly.

First, you should find and select a “champion” to manage the implementation process. This champion should have a strong sense of initiative and must always be searching for solutions to common problems. The champion does not necessarily have to come from management— depending on the situation, it may be wiser to appoint someone with a technical background (bottom-up approach) instead.

In order for the implementation to move forward smoothly, the champion must guarantee success to

those in upper management.

If you do choose a

manager to serve as your champion, this person should

not have any additional workload or responsibility lest

he or she become distracted from the main task. In any case, the champion assumes all control of (and responsibility for) the project.

As such, the champion must work to meet all essential objectives: providing the necessary tools, training, and ensuring service delivery. The main purpose of the BPM champion is to oversee and direct the implementation process by reporting to senior management, directly intervening in the project when necessary, and allocating personnel and resources to the project.

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On a day-to-day basis, the role of the champion would be to adapt existing routines to include BPM and overcome resistance to these changes as necessary. The champion should also protect the BPM implementation

  • 6. Establish Milestones

10 Best Practices for Business Implementation

process itself and all staff involved in the process from interference by senior management or other managers in general.

BPM implementation becomes a daunting concept that is difficult to achieve if it is incorrectly viewed as a large singular goal. Instead, you should view the introduction of BPM into your organization as being a smaller series of changes that work towards a larger goal of full implementation. Breaking the large main process down into smaller phases keeps you from becoming over- whelmed and even regressing backwards away from your goal.

The champion should prepare a strong business case in the implementation's early planning phase. This is essential because many people tend to be adverse to change and having everything planned in advance would help to convince them that your proposal to implement BPM is sound.

If there is any doubt or uncertainty, your champion should be there to provide reassurance when necessary. The business case is essentially the guidebook for the entire project; it should cover the planned scope and goals of using BPM in your organization in detail.

  • 7. Provide Deliverables Promptly

For instance, it could address how BPM would improve the lives of your workers or discuss how BPM would fundamentally change how business is done. Having a strong case from day one would allow you to easily set goals, identify costs, and track the return on investment of implementing BPM. Most importantly, the case would contain the planned milestones for your particular implementation.

To help refine the BPM implementation process into a series of smaller steps, the champion should set a reasonable deadline for each phase, modifying the original business case if necessary. Each small deadline should contribute to the main deadline. This allows you to reap short-term benefits from BPM while maintaining the long-term goal of large-scale implementation.

Furthermore, this strategy minimizes risk; by simplifying a large implementation plan into a series of smaller steps, the failure of any one phase only creates a small setback instead of threatening the success of the whole plan. This risk mitigation also allows for easier adaptation if necessary.

Once BPM has been implemented, it is imperative that the first benefits be available soon afterward. By definition, a deliverable in a BPM context is a return-on- investment of the BPM implementation, not the BPM

  • 8. Encourage Collaboration

infrastructure itself. In order to qualify as such, a deliverable must be something that other people can observe or use and it must be in a fully realized form. (not future results or speculation)

When planning your BPM strategy, it is essential to ensure adequate communication and the appropriate level of participation between all responsible parties during the implementation process. Communication is essential since BPM implementation requires you to receive data from anyone else involved in the implementation process in a timely manner. Collaboration comes in a number of forms including:

shared developments amongst BPM developers (e.g. in a shared repository), social mechanisms to share discussion on particular aspects of the BPM project, process execution, and the notation itself in which the processes are expressed. BPMN (Business Process Model Notation) is a graphical notation used to structure, represent, and model business processes. BPMN helps

to break down the barriers that exist between technical people and management by allowing complicated information to be presented in a way that everyone can understand.

Ideally, the champion should work closely with all people involved in the implementation process at any level. This helps alleviate the “management disconnect” problem where middle and senior management may not have a full understanding about the day-to-day issues that workers face. For this reason alone, it is important to take a more democratic approach of including everyone involved in the decision making process instead of expecting middle and senior management to set the policies in the typical top-down business environment.

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10 Best Practices for Business Implementation

To truly understand and oversee the various aspects and pitfalls of BPM implementation, the champion will need the contrasting views and contributions of everyone rather than blind adherence to a single viewpoint.

For instance, managers frequently view processes in a more abstract way, with the primary focus being on the big picture rather than the actual methods involved.

Technically-oriented people (such as developers and IT staff) are the exact opposite since they deal with the actual processes directly. This gives them a more refined view and understanding of each aspect and how everything fits together because they are the ones who ultimately have to make everything work in accordance with the guidelines set by management.

9. Measure the Results Step -by -Step

During the implementation process, it becomes necessary to track the progress of existing implementation procedures to ascertain whether the overall plan requires any adjustments. However, BPM implementation can be hard to measure or track effectively because it is more abstract than other resources in your organization.

First, you must identify what type(s) of data you wish to measure. This is where deliverables become important; without deliverables, there is no way to gauge how

effective implementing BPM has been for that particular process or how much value has been added.

The use of KPI (Key Performance Indicator) helps offset this problem by providing a means to measure this data and track the success of the implementation. KPI frequently takes the form of business dashboards, charts, etc. that display aggregated data from sales or marketing divisions in an organization. In a BPM setting, KPI could be used to conduct benchmarks on various processes and analyze test results.

10. Use Professional Services When Necessary

You are likely to get far better results when you use outside consultants (such as BonitaSoft and its partners) than you would if you handled your organization's BPM implementation completely internally. The main benefit of using consultants is the experience they bring to the table.

This is especially valuable in the case of software implementation, where a significant design flaw or miscalculation could cause major problems and damage the overall investment. Using a contractor may cost more up front, but the expertise pays off in the long run.

BonitaSoft experts recently worked with a major media company to deploy BPM in their IT infrastructure.

Their goal was to connect everyone working in the company (more than 400 employees) and allow them to request new features via business process rather than manually tracking down the IT manager and asking him directly. BonitaSoft helped the project by encouraging the client company to start small; the first process they implemented involved gathering purchase orders recently put into production from a single subset of the company. Once that project was successfully deployed, they graduated to more complex processes that showed demonstrable project patterns that improved efficiency, ultimately resulting in the purchasing process being deployed throughout the whole company.


BonitaSoft is the leading provider of open source business process management (BPM) software. Created in 2009 by the founders of the Bonita project, BonitaSoft is democratizing the use of BPM in companies of all sizes with an intuitive and powerful solution at an optimum cost. The Bonita solution has been downloaded more than 800,000 times to date by companies and organizations worldwide.

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