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IT Briefcase Exclusive Interview: Selecting the Best BPM Tools for Your Business

May 8, 2018 No Comments

BPM2 final 300x225 IT Briefcase Exclusive Interview: Selecting the Best BPM Tools for Your Business

In this interview, we talk to Thomas Kohlenbach, Principal Consultant with Promapp Solutions, about the role business process management can play in supporting process improvement, and how to go about selecting the appropriate BPM tool for your business.

  • Q. Why don’t employees use their company’s business processes?

A. There are a variety of reasons why processes are ignored. It could be because they are perceived to be out of date or incomplete. They may also be hard to access or overly complicated. Teams want information to be readily available and easy to understand. If it’s not, they will move on, relying on their best judgement or reverting to doing things the way they always have.

  • Q. What can a company do if it realizes its employees are ignoring their business processes?

A. Find out why – it will either be due to the state of the processes, or of your teams. Get feedback from the people who use operational processes on a regular basis. Encourage them to highlight and report insufficient or complex processes, and suggest ways to improve them. This will provide specific tools that enable people to easily provide feedback, and will help to ensure your processes are in order while creating engaged, accountable teams.

  • Q. What role can business process management (BPM) software play in supporting process improvement efforts?

A. The right business process management software can enable your process improvement efforts, but only if you select the right tool and the right process management approach for your business. Thinking about your BPM requirements from the perspective of usability, governance, analysis, content management, technology and cost can help ensure you select the right approach to meet your current and future business process management requirements, and will ultimately ensure maximum return on your process investment.

  • Q. What steps should a company take before considering a BPM tool?

A. Before considering a BPM tool, an organization should do its homework. Decide what your organization hopes to achieve with its process improvement efforts. Why is process improvement important to the organization and what is driving the strategy to focus on a process-centric approach?

It’s equally important to understand your organization’s current situation and level of maturity. How are you managing processes today and what resources are available to drive and support your process improvement efforts going forward?

Finally, since they will impact your platform selection criteria, what are your future development requirements? The tool you ultimately choose will need to support that direction.

  • Q. What kinds of criteria are important to consider in evaluating BPM software?

A. When evaluating process management software, there are several considerations. Start by thinking about who is going to use the software – technical specialists or frontline staff – and their communication preferences. The interface should provide users with the ability to engage with the tool easily, and the functionality should save the user time and effort, so usability is key.

Over time your processes will change, so you’ll need to think about change management requirements.

  • Q. What level of process analysis do you need?

A. Your process management software should give business analysts information that can support their efforts to make processes lean. If this is an approach you plan to adopt, you’ll need to be able to identify opportunities to reduce waste, remove non-value add activities, and spot cost reduction opportunities. To facilitate this analysis of current processes and identification of improvement opportunities. You’ll need to make the BPM tool available to the whole organization. Your teams need to be able to weigh in on what’s not working in your current processes, so you can plan your future process changes and improvements.

  • Q. Speaking of teams, collaboration is often cited as a key component for process improvement. How do you ensure that collaboration is taking place?

A. To encourage teamwork, you’ll need a BPM tool that will enable active collaboration and the exchange of ideas, and accommodate and track suggestions for improvement and feedback. These should be traceable, and successful execution should be tracked. Creating a single location and one version of process truth will help to drive engagement with your processes. Ideally, process guidance should be available in the places and systems that teams already visit every day, like the company intranet or via URL links in ERP systems. Think about how your teams will access process information. Where and when will they need it? And how can process management software enable the accessibility you require for your teams?

  • Q. What other factors should be considered in choosing a BPM solution?

A. Process management software should provide version control that records who uses the system, and tracks changeable components for auditors. Governance is critical to the success of your process improvement efforts so make sure the tool you select makes this easy.

Your process management software will also need to grow as your business expands and changes. This is where tools like Word, Visio, and PowerPoint frequently can’t keep up as process mapping tools, because they aren’t scalable. Your rollout plan should also include the amount and type of resourcing you’ll need to implement andembed the technology.

Finally, while cost should never be the only selection criteria for your business process software decision, you should question the return on investment if you don’t start to see small wins within a short period of time.

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Thomas Kohlenbach is Principal Consultant at Promapp Solutions, a global provider of business process management (BPM) software that helps organizations create and manage business processes online. He has over 12 years’ experience implementing initiatives related to continuous improvement (Kaizen/Six Sigma), change management and system integration, across automotive and financial services industries. Thomas is a passionate business improvement advocate who has helped organizations around the world to decrease operational costs and drive cultural change.



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