Steps for successful implementation of a BPM project

Implementing a BPM project follows the well defined principles and methods of any IT project, but with additional caveats:

1. Understand the capabilities of the Business Process Management software and what you want your project to achieve
It is important to establish clearly what the BPM software (BPMS) can accomplish and the benefits it brings to the organisation.

2. Define a project, its scope, objective and timescales
It is important to establish clearly what the organisation wants to achieve by implementing BPM software.
These objectives and priorities need to be set and communicated clearly and repeated often. As the project progresses the achievement against the objective should be measured. Objectives and priorities can change, but need to do so in a very controlled way.

3. Carry out a technical and cost feasibility study
Once the objectives and priorities have been agreed, a study should be carried out on the technical and cost feasibilities of the objectives.
The objectives may require review if the costs are estimated as too high or the project may need to be phased over a longer period.
It is important to understand the limitations of the BPM software, what functionality comes out-of-the-box, and what fuctionality needs to be customised and how much time and effort that will take.

4. Develop the business case
If the feasibility study demonstrates that the objectives can be achieved at acceptable costs a business case should be prepared to justify and secure the budget.
The potential for savings by implementing BPM software is huge and can be explored using case studies of organisations that have already made investment in this area.

5. Define the scope of your project
Having defined the objectives, priorities and the budget – the project needs to be scoped in more detail by the project manager. It is necessary to define the different stages of implementation, what will be done at each stage, and who will be involved from managers to users.
All of this needs to be done for each step and the end goals must be clearly identified and shared.

6. Implement and rollout in stages
The most successful projects are implemented in stages. Clear objectives, expectations and measurements should be set for each stage.

7. Measure success against objectives
Objectives should be set for the complete project and for each individual stage and should be measured.
Those objectives and any identified measurable benefits can be used to demonstrate that the business case was justified and will provide a very useful input into subsequent business cases.

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BPM Project – Risks

In addition to the familiar IT project risks that are known to every project manager, BPM projects have 3 additional risks that need to be taken into consideration:

Missing the business case
The biggest risk and most common problem in BPM projects is creating a great application with all the bells and whistles, but does not solve the business case.
Example: Building an “expense approval” workflow that automates the company expense process but doesn’t solve the business problem of credit card expenses, or that it doesn’t solve the business problem of managers being able to be notified before their expense budget runs out…
Missing the business case is usually solved by having one or more end-users be part of the project team, and showing them the workflow as you are building it. Getting their input and buy-on should be one of the project manager’s highest priorities.
It is always easier for an end-user to “sell” the project to their own team, than you trying to explain the advantages of the project.

Change creep
Like in all projects, there is always a risk of additional change requests after the project design has been signed-off. The workflow software usually deals with these changes quickly and easily, enabling you to give the end-users what they want without causing project delays or adding costs.
In some situations the “just a small change” request is not supported by the software or will cause rework on the development already done. In these situations you will need to put your foot down firmly. End-users usually understand when told that “this change will cause the project to be late” or “the software does not support this feature”.

Changing the way people work
BPM projects tend to attract more fire than IT projects as BPM is designed to change the way employees work.
The main objective of a BPM project is to improve organisational efficiency, responsiveness and profitability. It usually results in changes to the way employees work – and employees usually don’t like change.
There will be always people trying to slow the project down, cause it to side-track or “wait until a decision is taken..”
The trick is to be diplomatic, address the employee’s fears, explain the benefits of the project and ensure you have executive sponsorship.

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