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The Big BPM Project

Roger Tregear Roger Tregear on June 7, 2017

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Many articles have described the essential tools of achieving and sustaining process-based management. The Tregear Circles define the management meta-model that focuses on genuine, targeted, and evidence-based performance improvement. The 7Enablers of BPM describes how process-based management, via the circles, is enabled and embedded.

Of course, it’s not enough to just define the ideal state of two circles and seven enablers. To get to that target state requires a significant transformation project—the Big BPM Project.

Such an undertaking may appear quite daunting at first. It is complex to change the way an organization, its people, and their teams think about who they are, what they do, and how they do it. Thoughtful preparation and careful execution of well-defined work packages make a successful Big BPM transformation project eminently achievable.

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This paper describes a very practical approach to the Big BPM Project. It may be used as a reference model on which to base a specific project design. Figure 1 shows a high-level view, showing how the 7Enablers shape the required set of work packages ‘get the circles turning’, along with the establishment and preparation elements necessary to enable transformation to a mature process-based management operation.

Emphasis is placed on the establishment and preparation phases, since they provide the necessary foundation for other project activities, and are a prerequisite for successful transformation.

This is not a detailed project-management treatment of the Big BPM Project, since that material is readily available from many other sources. Rather, this paper provides commentary on those aspects that are unique or particularly important to the Big BPM Project.

To maximize project efficiency and keep all key stakeholders continually informed about progress and design decisions, having two project teams is recommended.

The development team is the core project team comprised of the people who will work on the Big BPM Project to deliver the work packages and related activities. Additional people, acting as subject matter experts, will be involved from time to time, participating in workshops and other discussions and reviews.

The reference group is comprised of senior managers and executives, the people who will ultimately make decisions regarding the project deliverables. This group is formed are to boost experienced management input, and to facilitate later decision-making and implementation of changes by keeping decision-makers continually briefed and engaged.

How long does it take to complete the Big BPM Project? Assuming the establishment phase to be complete, the rest of the project might take between three and six months. Note that this brings the project to the point where each of the enablers has been activated and related activity is ongoing and becoming commonplace.

Establishment phase[1]

An understandable desire is for immersion in project detail as soon as possible—to start building the architecture, assigning measures, running workshops, and doing the many other activities in the plan. However, to do this too quickly will bring failure. Without shared understanding and commitment at all levels, confusion, division, and apathy are inevitable.

The establishment phase is a vital preliminary step intended to create throughout the stakeholder group, especially at executive levels, a shared understanding of why the Big BPM Project is important, based on compelling reasons reflecting the realities of the organization.

A secondary, yet very important, objective is to assess the organization’s appetites and aptitudes for the prospective operational and cultural changes. Is the organization ready?

The foundational outcomes required for success in the establishment phase are:

  • organizational strategy clearly articulated and widely agreed
  • compelling reasons agreed and documented
  • comprehensive stakeholder analysis completed
  • communications plan, reflecting stakeholder analysis, agreed
  • documentation of decision-making guidelines complete
  • assessment of BPM culture completed and discussed
  • assessment of BPM maturity a completed and discussed
  • agreement to proceed supported by all key stakeholders.

Preparation phase

The preparation phase, possibly taking one to two weeks, is about arranging project logistics, and starting the project. The minutiae of project management are put in place in this phase: scheduling workshops and interviews, booking spaces, creating project libraries etc. Other sessions, workshops, and meetings may also be useful in properly starting the project.

Project work packages

Once the establishment and preparation stages are complete, it’s time to get into details of the work packages that will be the core of the Big BPM Project. The work packages for each of the enablers are discussed below.

For the purposes of description, the work packages are presented in separate and seemingly linear form, but in operation, they are put into effect largely in parallel as shown in Figure 1.

Work package #1: process architecture

Project objectives (WP1 architecture)

In the Big BPM Project, the objectives for the architecture work package are as follows:

  • Create and publish the first levels of the architecture.
  • Develop common understanding of a process architecture.
  • Begin development of maturity in the management and use of process architecture.

Project deliverables (WP1 architecture)

The key deliverables from this work package are:

  • an initial process architecture modeled to three levels of core processes and one level of management and supporting processes
  • short (fifty words maximum) description of each process identified in the architecture to provide information about its intent
  • presentation and communication material for informing and educating stakeholders about the importance and use of the process architecture.

Work package #2: process measurement

Project objectives (WP2 measurement)

The process measurement work package has the following objectives:

  • Assign performance targets to key processes defined in the process architecture.
  • Define how performance data will be collected and reported.
  • Create systems to make evidence-based decisions prioritizing process improvement.
  • Continue to embed process-based management by ensuring that all stakeholders understand the importance of process performance measurement.

Project deliverables (WP2 measurement)

The key deliverables from this work package are:

  • measures and targets assigned to the top two levels of core processes
  • measures and targets assigned to first level of shared management processes
  • measures and targets assigned to first level of shared supporting processes
  • measurement methods identified for all targets
  • where useful, explanatory notes to show reasons for selecting process measures
  • presentation and communication material to inform stakeholders about the importance and use of process measurement.

Work package #3: process governance

Project objectives (WP3 governance)

For the process governance work package, the following are the key objectives:

  • Ensure that active management of cross-functional process performance is based on evidence and assigned roles.
  • Ensure that process improvement deals with both performance anomalies and idea discovery for process change.
  • Take an important step toward enhanced process-based management maturity by bringing together the theory and practice of process architecture and measurement to form a practical management framework.

Project deliverables (WP3 governance)

The key deliverables from this process governance work package are as follows:

  • agreed role descriptions for the process owner
  • process owners appointed to Level 0 core processes, and possibly also to Level 1
  • process owners appointed to the key Level 1 shared management processes
  • process owners appointed to the key Level 1 shared support processes
  • support plans to assist process owners meet their role accountabilities
  • communication material to inform process owners and other stakeholders about the importance and operation of process-governance arrangements.

Work package #4: process change

Project objectives (WP4 change)

The change enabler objectives for the Big BPM Project are as follows:

  • Create an environment where continuous improvement, using a standard methodology, is common practice.
  • Ensure all staff are willing and able to participate in process improvement activities.
  • Create a consistent mechanism for prioritizing processes for analysis.
  • Establish of a way to track the realization of promised benefits.

Project deliverables (WP4 change)

The key deliverables from this work package are:

  • agreed, fully documented process improvement methodology
  • improved project selection prioritization scheme
  • process improvement curriculum and development plans
  • initial process improvement projects
  • communication material, to inform stakeholders about the importance and execution of process change.

Work package #5: process mindset

Project objectives (WP5 mindset)

The mindset work package has these objectives:

  • Embed process thinking in all stakeholders so they understand, and seek to optimize, their roles in process execution.
  • Develop a culture that values process measurement and continually seeks opportunities for improvement and innovation.
  • Engage the organization, its people, and their teams in new ways of thinking about customer service delivery.
  • Enhance widespread understanding of the cross-functional nature of value creation, accumulation, and delivery.
  • Involve all staff in the definition and execution of process improvement aspirations and initiatives.

Project deliverables (WP5 mindset)

The key deliverables from this work package in the Big BPM Project are:

  • comprehensive process change management plan to define and guide communications with all stakeholders
  • an appropriate ‘community of practice’ to support and nurture the process mindset
  • well-defined communication channels with plans for development and maintenance
  • effective system to stimulate and manage process improvement suggestions.

Work package #6: process capability

Project objectives (WP6 capability)

The Big BPM Project has the following objectives for the capability enabler:

  • Ensure all staff can participate in process improvement and management activities.
  • Enhance staff capabilities to deal with change and cross-functional working.
  • Support staff with access to process-based management information and systems.
  • Develop and maintain an accessible body of process knowledge.

Project deliverables (WP6 capability)

The key deliverables from this work package are:

  • documented learning pathways to define and deliver capability development
  • curriculum tailored to match different stakeholder requirements
  • accessible documentation about process methodologies, tools, and techniques
  • knowledge base related to process-based management theory and practice.

Work package #7: process support

Project objectives (WP7 support)

This project work package has the following objectives, to:

  • Improve process-based management capabilities by providing effective support.
  • Support staff in the analysis, improvement, and management of business processes.
  • Ensure compliance with standards and conventions.
  • Support process owners and the process council.
  • Monitor and improve the ‘process of process management’.
  • Enable efficiency and effectiveness in all aspects of process-based management.

Project deliverables (WP7 support)

The key deliverables from this work package are:

  • operational office of BPM providing initial services to the satisfaction of stakeholders
  • documentation describing the services available and how they are accessed
  • performance measures and targets for the operation of key office of BPM processes.

Business better than usual

At the end of the Big BPM Project, a process architecture has been defined and documented, process performance measurement has been established along with related governance mechanisms, and continuous improvement (change) methodologies have been implemented. In so doing, the process mindset and capability of the organization, its people, and their teams have been enhanced, and support facilities have been put in place.

The stage is set for successful ongoing process-based management. Completion of the Big BPM Project marks the start of effective, sustained process-based management.

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[1] This paper provides a high-level overview of the project phases and work packages. For a more detailed treatment see chapter 10 of the book Reimagining Management.

Topics: BPM - Business Process Management