Process Maturity Matters

Beyond the business analysis, used occasionally during transformation projects, business process management encompasses the entire life cycle of operations and business support. Its main objective is to add value to customers or suppliers first.

Au lever du matin, le cycliste prépare sa journée à travers monts et vaux
Hit the road – Claude Lanouette (c)

The degree of process management maturity, the ability to achieve sufficient understanding to manage them, was measured by the Gartner Group (see 1a,b,c). It showed that 75% of companies have an initial recognition of operational deficiencies, without a structured action plan to address them (phase 1). Only 20% of companies recognize the importance of managing the processes by creating a corporate culture that leaves room for understanding, learn how to improve (phase 2). But process management help solving concrete situations that must be addressed, in order to take its place on the market.

Gartner Business Process Maturity Model
Gartner Business Process Maturity Model

However,there is only a slim 5% of companies that engage further. They try to control and instrument processes for continuous improvement; automation is one of the means to this instrumentation (phase 3). Other then try to optimize the relationships between business processes across functional barriers, partners and customers (phase 4). Once it crossed this stage, some companies link process results to desired operational and strategic outcomes into a closed loop (phase 5). Finally, the most proactive create best-in-class processes that remain sharp in the face of change (phase 6). To summarize, this slim 5% invest wisely to adjust themselves quickly to the growing demands of the global market, and even succeed in becoming leaders.

These goals are ambitious. How to get out of the pack and reach those high standards? Implement a management practice processes supported by management, socialized and especially as part of a well established governance framework is the only effective way; it is a collective commitment.

For many organizations, it is essential to generate short-term gains, and this is a good way to pass the level of maturity stage 1 to stage 2. In fact, a well-defined project around a problematic process will identify areas for improvement and measurable gains. Once the improvement benefits recognized , it will be easier to finance process automation to improve. For the organization having several small successes, it will be easier to go into Phase 2 of the maturity cycle.

It is also unrealistic to believe that an improved process relies only on technological solutions that often help to automate problems instead of correcting the deficiencies from the corporate culture (2). Is it surprising, in a market where infrastructure solutions resellers suffer a decline in sales, while the providers of cloud computing solutions and big data management are growing by promising so much? Are we talking here of corporate strategy or simply the sophistication of means, without a real target the end – to concentrate and focus on the customer?

Ignorance of real costs, lack of simulation before engaging in development spending and lack of governance processes, understood and supported by management? This is where we must intervene. Accompaniment during such an initiative is often necessary to establish the foundation.

The management challenge

When it’s time to set up a Business Process Management (BPM) practice, the magnitude of such an initiative requires solid foundations. It is possible that you need help to do this, to rely on best practices. Note that the solution providers providers, specialized in such practices, may have an offer that is often attached to a technological solution, which is not always desirable when you want to only build these foundations.

Another challenge highlighted by the McKinsey group is that business leaders are struggling to support their agenda (3). Leaders are not impressed by the analysis or greedy voluminous reports that will not advance their cause.

A good alternative for the management of your business processes would be to use a periodic supervision, but continuously, or hire process specialists who can assist you during discovery workshops or socialization of your transformation projects .

At the right time and the right place

Recognizing these facts, it is conceivable that your consultants do not need to be constantly at your side, since it’s up to your company to take over, for a successful process management initiative.

When you need to negotiate a consulting contract, this may be a good idea to schedule periodic presence with a consultant team to support you for longer, instead of investing an initial amount while you will not be fully prepared to engage fully. This can be a compromise solution, without having to start over with a bang.

This different approach can give you time to adjust and set up your governance process. Take the time to develop a clear vision of the performance of your processes to learn how to control them, beyond your sales results, focusing with you on the most crucial element – adding value for your customers and suppliers. Big bang type approaches are not always a guarantee of success.

However, if you already acknowledge that losses from your processes make you lose ground, it is better to go to full speed.

References

(1a) APQC details BPMM in an interesting article by Jess Cheer, « What Does ‘Fix My Process’ Even Mean? », providing more insights on the proper use of the maturity model.

(1b) Gartner PDF – Maturity Assessment for Business Process Improvement Leaders: Six Phases for Successful BPM Adoption

(1c) To a few differences, there are several variations of the business process maturity model (BPMM) – Comparison of 6 Business Process Maturity Models

(2) Claude Lanouette – CPBA – Avril 2104 – L ‘art d’automatiser ses problèmes – translation to be published soon…

(3) McKinsey Insights – April 2015 – Changing the nature of board engagement

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