Line56 discusses business process management:

Despite the various BPM definitions, and existing engineering that dates back to Henry Ford and beyond, Hammer insists this is an entirely new way of thinking. “Most senior managers at organizations have a limited set of tools for improving performance,” and he lists them. “There’s financial management, organizational redesign, strategic refocusing, M&A, but the idea of using processes as the critical lever to improve performance is an up to the minute idea at most organizations. Our collective responsibility is to help organizations understand the power of that.”

“When [technologists] talk about BPM they talk about transactions and pipelines,” Scheer says. “When we talk about BPM we think of the organizational processes of a company and when we develop tools, they are focused to the organizational layer and not to technical things.” Indeed, IDS Scheer’s consulting practice is augmented by its ARIS software tools look at things like organizational process design, simulation, and activity-based cost (ABC) analysis. The plumbing beneath is an enabler, Scheer says, but there is danger when the discussion of BPM moves to the technology layer.

so what is the mechanism to effect process change?

It’s a massive commitment for an organization in which measurements, rewards, cultures and careers will change, Hammer says. Waving a wand won’t get it done but there is, yes, a process that starts with the big boss. “It involves identifying processes, appointing process owners, establishing metrics, picking processes to focus on, coming up with new designs, implementing in a phased approach, then putting in instrumentation and technology to support it,” Hammer says.

“There also has to be a bottom-up approach because people in the organization have to accept new ways of thinking and working,” Scheer says. Once processes are described, systems can be assigned and aligned to support them. Better tools for workflow will make this easier and more process will become embedded in the future, he says.

The likely source for process owners are the senior managers who are already engaged in making things happen and moving projects forward, says Tim Sloane, an Aberdeen analyst attending the conference. “How can they not understand process?” he says. “The hardest part is going to the individual working at the higher level and make it come clear to them. It’s pretty easy to gauge the audience and how well the thinking will track with them.”

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.