You are with a bank executive opening an account. But, unlike in past, this time it’s within the confines of your home. The bank executive arrives armed with a sleek tablet and captures your details while both of you enjoy a cup of coffee. Using the tablet, he scans your KYC documents, and clicks your picture.

Wow! Account is opened – no hassles, no filling up of forms. You are impressed with the bank…

…And you enquire with the executive if the bank offers any good investment products for your kids. The executive confirms. You want to know more. The executive gives you business card of his colleague that handles investment products. The executive leaves, and you never get around to calling up his colleague.

The bank just lost a ‘good lead’! Welcome to life with broken processes.

Now let’s re-imagine the 2nd half of the story. You want to know more about the investment products. The executive opens up his tab. He has already captured your details. So, all he requests you for are couple of additional details about your investment preference, and basic details about your kid, and confirms to you that his colleague would give you a shout within 24 hours. His colleague calls up, comes to meet you, and completes the formalities.

What has changed?

To put it briefly – the lead capture process, which was previously broken, got fixed as the sales rep was able to capture a lead even for those products which he was not selling as such.

How?

The answer to this has many sub-plots and layers within. So continue reading if you have time and patience.

During my 10 years of selling BPM, I’ve seen many organizations that would quite proudly brag to me – “Oh, we have BPM”, or “We are very serious about automation, and hence bought BPM years back”. It’s only after we’ve scratched the surface, that we come to the question of “What have you done with BPM that you bought years back”. The poor guys automated one process here and one process there, and that’s about it. And, if you ask them why they were not able to expand it to an ‘Enterprise wide BPM initiative’, chances are nobody would have a clear answer.

In my analysis, the reason for this is – when most of these organizations were buying BPM, they really didn’t think through their needs as an enterprise. They had a set of processes in mind that were really impacting business and they were looking for solutions to address those. It’s just that they happened to call it “BPM”. But believe me, had it been any other software that addressed the issue at hand – they would have bought it instead as well.

This is perhaps the biggest mistake that organizations commit when procuring BPM technology. They view it with an extremely short term and narrow view.

They miss out asking many pertinent questions, such as:

  1. Will the BPM tool that I’ve shortlisted serve all processes with equally efficiency? Would it be equally effective in both document intensive as well data intensive processes running in my organization?
  2. Does it have all the components required to address requirements of various kinds of processes running in my organization? Or would I need to procure additional 3rd party products? What would that cost?
  3. What would be the overall cost implication – if I ask my chosen implementation partner to implement processes across my enterprise?
  4. Does the implementation team bring in the experience relevant to my business? Or would I need to provide all domain guidance from my side?

One of the organizations (an insurance company) that I know of did this analysis when they had almost made up their mind on a particular BPM product. They realized that they had thought of mainly data intensive processes such as leave and attendance, employee requests, and expense requests.

The team that drove BPM evaluation didn’t think of some of the document intensive processes.

Lo and behold, the BPM product which sounded tailor made for them was suddenly looking out of place when viewed from enterprise perspective. Dependencies on 3rd party components surfaced, the implementation partner’s lack of experience in handling varied nature of processes got highlighted and so did their lack of overall understanding of business.

They are now re-looking at their BPM needs from an enterprise perspective.

But imagine what would have been the case if they had instead gone ahead with the initially chosen product. They would have automated some of the processes, but, when attempting other processes, they would have come across these realizations:

  • It seems that we need to get a 3rd party component to support imaging needs
  • Looks like our implementation partner has not done implementation with imaging tools, we need to get some imaging experts
  • The product has some architectural challenges in handling the workflow, the way we want it.

And then management would have killed it…

…by saying “The additional investment is just too large”. Result – broken processes. One process beautifully automated, while others – god knows! One business line excels in customer experience, while other – ‘what is customer experience’?

Bottom-line: look at your enterprise needs, and then evaluate:
  • The BPM Solution
  • The Implementation Partner
  • Domain Partner (if different from the implementation partner)

Happy Automation!