Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The challenge of being a BPM specialist

As a "process therapist" I encounter many processes in trouble.

The most difficult one is the "But we have always done it like this" or "still in the dark" processes.
The trouble with this is to make people understand that there is a whole new world out there, which will soon replace your business, because customers will simply switch. A world of new practices, new technology, and new demands.

I often encounter these processes in organizations with an almost monopolistic nature, where customers are almost forced to accept the service, simply because of the trouble to switch.
Think - utilities companies - water, electricity, national phone company, internet provider, mobile phone company with the 1 year subscription lock-in, your pension provider, the law, mortgage handler, insurance company, car repair dealer.
Sometimes arrogant, mostly naive. "We have always done it like this".

E.g. it's normal that....
- Customers need to wait weeks, sometimes months on requests
- Things get lost, and are found again
- No insight in metrics such as progress, workload, speed
- If customers call, they need to call back later, because it takes a lot of time to findout the current status (and we can't call them)
- Decisions are taken, but no one knows or tracks why, or even evaluates the business case behind the decision
- Processes and channels are there for the company's efficiency, not for the customer "openinghours: 9:00 - 17:00, closed in the weekend", "no, we can not react to email" "please press XYZ, for ..... The waiting time is YY. This call will cost you XX per minute. There are 40 people before you in queue" "yes, you will need to fill out this form, even though we have all your data already"

We all know these types of companies, and those poor processes in there. And the even more poor customers having to deal with this.
I'm often amazed - how can the people working there, have become used to this, and think it's "normal". The boiling frog metaphore comes to mind... (cook them slowly and they won't notice and get used....until it's too late)

What to do? Can BPM be an answer? The answer is a complex and yet simple one:
Yes, but you need leadership from local managers that understand that they have a growing issue and have the courage and committment to really do something about it.

Without this, forget it.

So if, as a BPM specialist, you encounter the "we have always done it like this" type of process, find the leadership, grow it, test it, and let go if it's not there...There are always other companies that do understand the need for process improvement, and your BPM expertise is very welcome there!

1 comment:

Joris said...


Couldn't agree more. Even as a BPM consultant, you have to carefully select the value chain you are in -otherwise your own acquisition process needs BPM!