Business Process Management (BPM)

By Olga Sa

A process helps reduce internal costs by streamlining the execution of repeatable tasks. It should help reduce the amount of errors and prevent risks from becoming issues.

Too much process, however, can cause the team to become too rigid and not respond well to innovation and flexibility, which are mandatory in digital projects when integrating client needs with technology in highly prevalent hybrid waterfall-agile methodologies.

Therefore, BPM is an eternal project with continuous improvement suggestions.

How do you encourage adoption of a process?

You have noticed that some repeatable activity is being performed ad hoc on your project.

You foresee needing to repeat this task on your next project and in order to avoid missing it or doing it wrong, you suggest a formal way of doing it going forward. Everyone seems to be in agreement. A fancy chart is created and distributed to the team by whatever knowledge share method your company uses.

Fast forward to your next project: the time to perform this task comes around but you don’t have the same people on the project anymore or they are too busy and nobody follows your process. Things are still done but not in a clean, agreed upon manner but rather with whatever means possible at that point just to get it done. It is messy and confusing to everyone. It may have impacted another area of the project but you are not sure because how it was done is not documented and will be hard to trace.

The moral of the story is – you can wrap yourself in as many layers of process as you like but if the team doesn’t follow them – it doesn’t guarantee your safety. As a PM, you don’t create processes for yourself, you create them for your team. Therefore you need to encourage them to follow these.

You met with the team, you brought up the chart, you followed up half way through to check if it was being followed. You were assured that things are going fine. In the end – it was still just slapped together.

How can you make sure the proper process is followed at the right time?

Some basic tactics are:

  • Make it impossible for them to do it any other way. Easier said than done? Refuse to accept work unless it was delivered in accordance to the process. If you clearly agreed that all mockups need to be presented to the client in a PDF format with a title page, date and page numbers – don’t make concessions just this one time. It negates the adoption and perpetuates bad precedent.
  • Illustrate benefits of following the right process. Forward positive emails from the client/management and relate them to the process. Point out lack of overtime spent on the project or decrease of stress and last minute requests.
  • Reward for following the right process. Publicly call out the great work of team member who followed the process and reward them with an interesting piece of work or whichever method is more appropriate.

These are just some examples that may not be applicable to your situation but I encourage you to spend some time thinking creatively about ways to accomplish this and she them here for the benefit of the rest.

© 2014 Olga Sa

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