Start With What's Broken - InformationWeek
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Software // Information Management
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6/18/2004
02:37 PM
Ted Kemp
Ted Kemp
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Start With What's Broken

When it comes to BPM, go ahead and begin with the process that's anathema to everyone involved with it. When you create a turnaround, you reach hero status.

Showing results at the outset is a challenge inherent to IT initiatives, especially when executives are being held accountable to get real return on every one of the shareholders' dollars. The beginning of an enterprise-wide business process management effort is no exception. So begin with something that isn't working.

International Truck and Engine kicked things off with a purchase requisition process that "everyone hated," as CMP's Penny Lunt Crosman reports in Pain-Free BPM. At International Truck, requisitioners wrote requests and attached them to e-mails for routing and approvals. The problem with the process? When requests left the originator's inbox, it was impossible to track their status.

Sound familiar? Seeing as how there's no company on earth that doesn’t have broken processes that nobody likes, it probably does. Standing on the outset of its use of BPM, International Truck designed a workflow and used a Web-based monitoring tool so everyone involved could see the status of each requisition. As it turned out, the problem got fixed.

That's when the folks in IT reached hero status. Executives wanted to know how to apply the same principles and technology to more processes. Instant buy-in from the high-ups bodes well for any project, and IT gets to stop doing a sales job and start making things work better.

Other organizations might have tried starting with some process that could be improved, but wasn’t in need of a total overhaul. The margin of improvement is less that way, though. So go ahead and begin with the process that's anathema to everyone involved with it. When you create a turnaround, your job gets easier from there on out.

"Pain-Free BPM" gives companies just starting with process management a whole series (10, actually) of novel recommendations like this one. Check it out. You'll find something that helps.

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