"Improve business processes? No time, we are in a crisis!"

Some recent discussions with top managers remind me of the old story about the woodchopper: he was very slow in cutting trees because his saw was blunt. Asked why he doesn’t sharpen his saw to cut faster and more effectively, his answer was, “I need so much time for cutting the trees with my blunt saw that I don’t have a minute left to sharpen it.”

Isn’t it the same with operational efficiency and crises? We are so busy with cutting costs that we have neither the time nor the manpower to look for more efficiency in the process. The most interesting point is that almost all managers are aware of the potential for cost savings through business process management, even in hard economic times.

So how can you do it right and use BPM–particularly in these times–as a vehicle for sustainable improvement of business performance?  

  1. Make it easy. Don’t explain in complex language how a BPM project can contribute to the organisation’s objectives here or there. CEOs get bored (so do we!) and so don’t see any added value. There’s nothing sophisticated about business processes: everybody can understand them.
  2. Make it concrete.  A specific business case with expected monetary benefits is more helpful than a comprehensive project with positive ROI in 3 years. Find here a real business case with a significant financial impact in only 30 days.
  3. Make it a positive experience.  Start small and get quick positive results (not only for the company but also for all people involved).
  4. Slice and dice as much as possible. Deliver small packages with clear solutions for specific problems. High market attention to our New Pace delivery model—based exclusively on packages—reflects this need.
  5. Board members and CEOs: Give it a chance! BPM topics sometimes need some weeks to take off. You will get not only a quick ROI but also sustainable results by leaving the crisis as a winner.

Those topics seem to be easy and logical, but reality shows they are not easily realized. So, what is holding us back from acting rationally? Here are some reasons:

  1. Motivational hierarchies: if the board or the CEO sets “immediate cost savings” as priority No.1, the whole hierarchy will follow that instruction in order not to risk their jobs in difficult times. Everybody is then busy identifying cost-saving measures while keeping the business up and running. Where is the motivation to go beyond these two topics and look for more sustainable improvements “in the process”?
  2. Bad experiences: Numerous organizations ran BPM initiatives in the past did not achieve their sky-high expectations. As a result, each new initiative is seen as too risky in the current situation.
  3. Wrong interpretation: BPM is often seen as a technical or IT-driven topic. In fact, it is a management discipline that helps make people more motivated and processes more efficient.
  4. Missing focus: Many BPM projects are much too large and sophisticated. Instead of focusing on the most burning issues, they rather target ending world hunger.

By the way, even Gartner and other renowned institutes recognize BPM delivers significant value to organisations, particularly in difficult times. Today’s challenge is to find the right way to unlock the potential of BPM for your organisation.

Learn more and find out how we at New Pace Consulting look at Business Process Management. For quick successes with small packages click here.