Saturday, December 15, 2012

My BPM prayer for 2013

Prayer? No, I am not religious. But in the coming months there will be the lot of BPM prediction lists from the various blogs. Always fun to read. Take a basket, throw in the current buzzwords (social, big data, cloud), mix with some insights and publish.
I wanted to take another approach this year. Not so much what I expect to happen, but more what I really hope to happen. Comments welcome! And an early: happy holidays.

Design for experience
I do processes, because for me it's one of the core interventions to focus on value. And I love that value is getting a broader sense in BPM. Nut just the end product, or efficiency, speed. But the realization that people that want a service are complete whole people, that experience interactions. And that hope that these experiences are positive, helpful. So, I pray that we design for positive experience. Because there are still quite some bad experiences out there.
And I hope that we don't pidgeonhole people in "customer", "user" or worse "some abstract entity that submits data, and is send the product", but as whole people.
I would love to see more psychology and antropologhy enter the field of BPM.

Design for meaning and motivation
I also do processes, because for me it's one of the core interventions to create meaningful workplaces. Workplaces should be rewarding, educating, fun, places for growth. Often they are not. Face it, we all spent major parts of our lives in workplaces. Valuable life time that we can spent only once. And the deeper needs that we have are often not well understood or addressed.
The machine-like concepts behind many of the BPM-thinking stiffle our ability to design for meaning and motivation. KPI's motivating? Come on. Process models that thrill us to all change? Come on.
I would love to see new language appear on concepts in BPM around motivation, inspiration. How to design processes, that support people to do the things they like.

Co-create, on staying out of the silo
Be honest, ever found yourself in an office, cubicle, some remote place, far away from the complexity of the workplace? In front of your screen, with the assignment to "improve the process". And busy clicking in some tool, making a beautiful process-diagram, that is just going to awe the manager to the max? Stop. You are living in a dream. It's never going to fly.
Go to the complexity. Dive in. Be shy, scared, but still go on. Talk to the people. Involve. Ask. And let them decide on what the improved process is. Be the facilitator. Influence. Help them to see new possibilities. Even better: let them see you even better possibilities. Be confused. Learn.
I am reading a beautiful book on Organization Development (and it's history). This is not new - this co-creation stuff has been there for decades. But we all, personally, have to give up the illusion that we can sit there, in our silo, and create perfect solutions.

Real working software, as opposed to ACM/BPM battles
A lot of discussions the last years on ACM/BPM. Don't get me wrong, I learn a lot of the likes of Max Pucher et al. Insights in complexity of work. Of people interaction. And let's make things simple: things are never simple. Any piece of software will be based on an abstraction of the complexity of work & interaction. Thus will have it's limits. And while the discussions on the views and concepts behind this abstraction are valuable, let's not forget that in the end, the value is in the eye of the beholder: the actual users. And the typical manager/user I speak, does not really care for these abstract discussions. They want software that supports their work. Not perfect, but good enough. Real working software that is, not abstractions. So let's go out there, make it work, and share the lessons on what (not) worked, not the rants.

On economic crisis, carreer perspective and ethics
In the BPM automation projects I am involved in, the patterns are quite simple: use BPM automation to cut cost, cut cost, cut cost, and add some quality and flexibility please. In the labour-intensive service processes I am involved in, this means cutting work. Using straight through processing and performance optimizing tools to make people more productive, and thus more people redundant.
Technology might be neutral, applying it is not. BPM automation projects have real effects on real people: typically, I see major cuts in lower educated administrative workers. And it worries me. Sure, from a business case perspective we understand. From a public services perspective also: we all want to have lower prices, and more effect from our taxpay. But the cause-effect is simple: apply BPM automation, fire people. And I wonder: if all organizations will be doing BPM automation, what work will be left for these people? What can society offer? Are we growing towards a society in which we have highly oiled, well functioning small units of service delivery, with highly paid managers, knowledge workers and IT-staff? The upper class? And the rest trying hard to make ends meet?
We need a vision on future work. On the ethics of BPM automation. And on meaning & dignity & perspective of the "lower" workforce.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

BPM replacing ERP? I think not.

To start - I am not a fan of "old school" ERP. The massive, late 90's, ERP implementations with dozens of eager Accenture consultants, and endless "customize or standardize" never impressed me much. And the control and agility promisses were highly overrated. So when anyone comes with a tool that can replace ERP, I am much interested.
However, if I read blogs stating that ERP is being replaced by BPM technology, I shiffer.
Don't get me wrong, I love BPM technology, and the changes that it's bringing in Business-IT alignment.
But a simple comparison of functional features of a BPMS versus an ERP shows that there are many ERP components that are not, or not well covered by BPMS. Of course, there as BPMS vendors that have BPMS solutions with larger featuresets and smaller. But on average, there is still a gap.

In that light we have been working at Capgemini at defining what could replace ERP. Our first focus was the services industry (and even more specific: Public administration). Based on our own experiences in platform renewals, and by studying many tenders, we were able to define a quite complete set of functionalities required to support public administrative service processes in a complete, yet agile way.

The combined set we call our "Model Service Delivery Platform". I can't go into all details at this stage, but here are a number of typical functionalities required in public service delivery:

- Customer portal - submitting requests, track & trace
- Customer contact center portal - answering questions, track & trace
- Knowledge worker portal - allow workers to access cases and perform tasks, manage performance
- Process engine - for straight through processing and human tasks coordination
- Decision management engine
- Case management - services for gathering and presenting case information, and coordinating processes and adhoc tasks
- Scan & indexing facility - for paperbased request
- Document management solution - for storing digital documents/cases, to support service delivery and comply with records regulations
- Document generation - to generate documents (and also technical messages)
- Value chain integration - to request information from other parties, or update other parties in the value chain
- Operational management information - for workers and supervisors to manage service delivery
- Improvement management information - for analysing and improving process performance
- Data storage, query and management services for storing customer, request/product data, decisions
- Identity & Access Management

Interesting to see is that there are quite a number of technical implementation scenario's possible to support these functionalities. And that's what we see and do for clients. Examples: CRM centric, ECM centric, BPMS centric, Bespoke parts.
But the key conclusion: we do not see any BPMS covering all these area's well.

It leads of course to a discussion: what is a BPMS? What are it's boundaries? My point:  If I buy a BPMS, that also contains a well integrated Java development environment, and I implement the functionalities above with 10%  process automation, and 90% Java, be honest: I can't say BPMS replaces ERP.

So for now, BPMS is not replacing ERP in my opinion. It's bringing very strong components that are very powerful and play a central role in our service delivery platforms. But most service delivery platforms are still a larger set of technical components, and BPMS is just one of them.
It's the reason why many isolated point solutions,  based on BPMS centric implementations, stay small, or in the end get eaten by a larger architecture, with other technologies.

What the future will bring?
I see three directions:
- BPMS as platform for strong, but small point solutions (which needs integrations)
- BPMS vendors growing towards completer service delivery platforms (as we see in the Oracle Fusion approach)
- ERP vendors that innovate, and adopt these strong business technology components (ACM, BPM, BRM)

If scenario 2 and 3 do not happen, the larger IT-transformations/innovations at service organizations will stay complex programs with quite some integration work. This may seem of benefit for system integrators, but believe me, we rather see integrated platforms in which we can only focus on value for the business. Hence, our "model service delivery platform". (or in my language "Model Uitvoeringsplatform").

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Service design and BPM - a great match

For a number of years, a lot of new language and concepts have been developed covering something we now call "Customer Experience".

Think of...
- Channels, multichannel strategy
- Touchpoints
- Moments of truth
- Customer value
- Customer expectations
- Customer experience
- Outside in thinking
- Customer journey

A number of these concepts we already knew from Lean, especially Voice of the Customer.

For the services industries, these terms have been blended into an approach, set of powerful tool : service design (sometimes also called Service Innovation). A great development: design thinking as approach for creating great customer experiences through services. 

In my opinion, Service Design and BPM have a lot of added value to each other, and to service businesses. 
At this stage Service Design is not very strong in process design from an efficiency/operational excellence perspective. And it is unaware of questions around process governance, process maturity, ongoing process improvement (from an inside out and outside in perspective). BPM can help here, including Lean. 

BPM is not very strong in the outside in thinking area. Yes, we do have VOC (from Lean). And the general notion of customer orientation and outside in thinking. But in it's discipline, it has missed the language, concepts and (evidence based) approaches. How many process diagrams I see, where the customer swim lane is missing....
Service design is a great help to help us understand for who we design processes: for the end-customer primarily.

For all BPM-specialists, do check out "This is Service Design Thinking". 

For all Service-design specialists, do check out BPM (and it's many books and websites!)

An interesting development (as far as I understood in my meetings with service design agencies) service design is also attempting to address on of the missing links in BPM: How to design processes that not only create a great customer experience, but also a motivating and rewarding employee experience...

And a last observation: as BPM-specialists we are in the services industry ourselves. We work with many stakeholders attempting to help design and implement great processes. Every thought about the customer experience of that work? Service design can help us there as well. It explains why and how we can pick interventions that are motivating and value adding for our stakeholders, in their customer journey to great processes.

Friday, September 14, 2012

10 OCM-consequences of introducing a BPMS/ACM solution

I am currently quite busy guiding the implementation of a Case Management Solution for a public sector client. My focus is the Organizational Change Management (OCM). And I have been working with this client to prepare them on the business & IT side for all consequences of introducing BPMS/ACM based solutions for various processes, realized on a generic shared platform. This OCM approach is vital, as many BPM/ACM projects tend to focus most attention to IT-aspects, and forgetting the business & IT-support side.
The last weeks we have simply been identifying and discussing consequences and critical succes factors that need to be taken into account when introducing BPMS/ACM solutions. Note that the implementation we are doing, includes digital documents (ECM, scanning solutions).

Here is a list of consequences and CSF's that we have identified. It serves in my opinion as a good checklist for most BPMS/ACM implementations.

1. The daily routine of workers and managers will change a lot. 
Most organizations come from a situation, where they work with a mix of paperfiles and data entry IT-systems. The switch to full digital documents and a process guiding system is quite a change for people, and requires the right change approach, with various interventions (from involving the users in Agile/Scrum to training and other enablement activities)
For coordination and management things also change considerably. Typically management information is collected using various meetings, spreadsheets and IT-queries. The modern BPMS/ACM solution has near-realtime dashboards.
The best practice: have a OCM-stream in your BPMS/ACM project/programme.

2. The possible service concepts and customer facing processes can be innovated
Many organizations are working with modern eBusiness/eGovernment channels (web, mobile), as well as Customer Contact Centers (phone, email). With the right linking, case handling can be linked to these channels, creating more possibilities - for instance for customers to digitally submit requests, track & trace cases and get automated alerts when status changes (through SMS, email, etc). And for customer contact centers, these BPMS/ACM platforms are great to quickly determine status or to fire questions to the back office employee handling a certain case. In the silo-based architecture, this was all often quite difficult to achieve.
Best practice: review your service concept, and if needed, apply service design / service innovation.

3. Capacity demand for various competences will change
Many organizations have people dealing with administrative tasks around paperfile handling. Storing, searching, finding, distributing, adding documents, archiving.  All this work can be reduced significantly, using ACM solutions with digital documents. This leads to cost saving opportunities, reducing FTE's. But to actually realize these savings/business case, FTE reduction needs to be started.
Best practice: have a clear business case and FTE-reduction plan

4. A lot of operational management data will be available. But correctly used as well?
As said, BPMS/ACM solutions can provide quite some insight into the operations: cycletime, workload, utilization. This requires a good steering model: what do we want to measure and why, and what do we do if measures signal potential issues. It also requires competences on the management level to handle this data and act correctly, and a clear responsibility model.
Best practice: improve the maturity of measuring & steering

5. Have a clear scope for process analysis and improvement
To implement processes in the BPMS/ACM solution, process analysis is mandatory. But this analysis can also be done to identify improvements. It is important to have a clear, and shared understanding of the process scope:
- 1 on 1 transfer to the BPMS/ACM solution
- Standaardize / harmonize only
- Improve minor things
- Redesign, with innovations such as straight trough processing, business rules
- Redesign, with co-creation, Lean and outside in Service Design approaches
Best practice: have a clear scope

6. Standardization versus TCO
When using a shared platform, re-use can potentionally bring a lot of value to the BPMS/ACM efforts. This can be standardisation for processes, for management info/steering model and for IT-components. However, harmonizing and standardizing these items require strong governance, and requires negotations. If this is not management, variation and complexity will drive up cost of the solution (TCO)
Best practice: standardize where possible, local variation where needed

7. Process management maturity will facilitate the BPMS/ACM efforts
When introducing an BPMS/ACM solution, the more mature processes and process management is, the better. Process management maturity is linked to items such as:
- Processes are identified and have been documented
- Documentation is being kept up to date, and compliance is checked regularly
- KPI's have been identified, and are measured
- There is clear ownership of the operational management of processes
- There is clear ownership for the tactical / strategic management of processes (strategy alignment, reactive and pro-active process improvement)
- A PDCD cycle has been implemented
- A process culture has been established
Best practice: implement BPMS/ACM solutions as part of BPM as a discipline, or try to start a linked effort

8. Using a shared BPMS/ACM platform for multiple processes requires different IT-governance model
In most silo based organizations, IT governance is also silo based. When a company switches to a central platform for (in the future) all processes, another type of IT governance (demand-supply) needs to be implemented.

9. BPMS/ACM solutions bring agily - but only with agile people and processes
BPMS/ACM solutions make use of business technology: what you model is what you execute. Part of the solution becomes maintainable by people that have a combination of business & IT-skills (instead of the hardcore techies). By making sure that the most changing aspects are implemented in agile business technology and by placing these people close to the business, surrounded by fast processes, agility can be achieved.

10. A shared solution creates depencies and risks
As a company moves from silo IT-solutions to a shared BPMS/ACM solution, the dependency of single point of failure/frustration is created. This requires a strong focus on non-functional technical aspects - availability, recovery and performance, as well as focus on useability (advice: add an interaction designer to any BPMS/ACM effort).

Input welcome!