May 24 2011

I initially started this blog series on a Modular BPM COE with the best intentions of wrapping it up quickly.  Given that I started the series a little over a year ago, I would say that I have not kept up the pace to well!  However, as the expression goes:  Good things come to those who wait.  Therefore, I hope everyone finds this series valuable!  For a more comprehensive picture, part one focused on the Resourcing component and part two looked at the Governance component of the Avio Modular BPM COE.

In this third installment of the Modular BPM COE series, I am going to focus on the one area of the BPM COE which people most often start with and, more often than not get stuck in, Execution.  

As with the other components of the Modular BPM COE, there are three key focus areas within the Execution component: Business expertise, end user community, and technical expertise.  Within the Execution module, all three of these focus areas are supported by a clear, consistent, iterative methodology.  I did feel compelled to highlight an iterative methodology.  Over the past eleven years of implementing BPMS projects of all sizes, the number one indicator of project failure is the insistence on utilizing a waterfall methodology.  That, however, is another topic for another day. 

On to the three primary focus areas of the Execution component:

Business Expertise

The first word in BPM is Business.  Therefore, a key component of the execution of a BPM based project needs to involve the subject matter experts and business analysts who understand the process.  Within an iterative methodology, the ability to start with a subset of the functionality and requirements is predicated on the availability of resources that are available to answer questions quickly and accurately.  And because BPM is about driving value for the business users, the availability of process experts is critical.  Ideally, the SMEs have performed the process modeling in conjunction with BAs who are trained in facilitation and documentation of process discovery.  This will ensure a well defined process that accurately captures the right level of granularity over the course of the project.  

Another objective of incorporating a strong business expertise function in the BPM execution team is to identify and create reusable common processes and best practices.  While not all processes can (or should) be reusable components, all processes should conform to specific standards and best practices.  The business expertise function is responsible for not only highlighting when a process could potentially be reused, but also ensuring that process modeling best practices and the requisite level of documentation is followed as well.

End User Community

Often times, the end user community is "forgotten" during the duration of a project until time comes for user acceptance testing (UAT).  Again, if utilizing an iterative development methodology, the end users should be incorporated into the team from the beginning and throughout the life cycle of the project.  The addition of the end user community at the beginning of the process not only ensures that the process being delivered will indeed provide value to the way the end user works, but will also serve to significantly reduce the change management required to bring the entire end user community on board.  Often, we have found that including a few of the vocal resources of the end user community at the beginning of a project will serve to help pave the path for a smooth transition from the old way of working to a new, BPM managed way of working.  It is this coordination of the end users on the project team with the larger end user community that builds momentum for additional BPM based projects.

Technology Expertise

Within the project team, experts on technical development and implementation of the chosen BPMS will work side by side with the previously mentioned business experts and end users to translate their visions into the executable process.  The technical resources will be responsible for a number of areas such as identifying the data required by the process, evaluating the various integration options, establishing a robust and scalable architecture, and creating development best practices, etc.  It is the level of communication and coordination of activities between the technical expertise and the business expertise that will ultimately determine the success of the implementation.   While there will undoubtedly be components of the implementation which the technical experts will take lead on and drive the resolution, it is critical to remember that the value of the implementation to the end user community is the measurement of ultimate success.  A perfectly architected solution which is completely unusable by the end user is not a very successful project.  

Part four of the Modular BPM COE focusing on the Metrics and Monitoring module will be coming out soon.  Stay tuned!

About the Author

Brandon Dean

Brandon Dean is Executive Vice President for AVIO and focuses his time on building client relationships and directing sales, marketing, and strategy initiatives for AVIO. Prior to joining AVIO in 2008, Brandon spent time in various positions at Oracle, BEA Systems, and Fuego where he built a reputation as a thought leader in BPM strategy and implementation advisory services. 

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