Standing on the shoulders of ...

It's about two weeks now since Yaskawa hosted our BPM Day and we discussed the current state and future of Business Process Management - and there was a lot to discuss.

Today, I would like to focus on one particular aspect that we covered:

How have the drivers of BPM and with them the criteria of success of projects changed over time and what is the outlook for us all as practitioners?

Looking back is not actually a core competence of BPM. In contrast, the discipline is characterized by developing processes and organizations from the as-is to the to-be, not much time for looking into the past. However, within this drive towards the future each of us is shaped by their own experience and the wisdom and anecdotes others have shared with us. Likewise, we are and will be influencing co-workers and others.

As a sociological model it is justified to assume that every person lives in the context of 7 generations. Primarily of course that of their own peer-group. Then those of their parents and grandparents and usually even that of their great-grandparents. Although the latter influence will already be more indirect and smaller in extent. The same is true for the influence we extend down the generations of our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It's a bit like a bobbin or spool with the individual in the middle and the influencers and those influenced forming the broadening ends to either side. This model can be safely transferred to other contexts to analyse a particular situation and gaze into the future.

During the BPM day we asked the participants to draw a 7 Generations Map of IT projects. Three teams worked on the following variations of the question:

What are the influences that make IT projects a success or failure in the eyes of
   the project team,
   the sponsor,
   the users?

Although most of the group members had never worked together before, defining how to segregate phases or generations related to our question immediately led to vivid discussions and the biggest challenge soon became retaining the focus on the particular question rather than a discussion of the more global trends. But as they say "Let it flow ..."

The result were three charts ranging from small script to expressionist sketches but when the teams presented their results these were the take home messages of what trends and factors that are driving projects now and in the near future:

What are the influences that make IT projects a success or failure in the eyes of the project team?

  • Agility regarding shifts in requirements and schedules
  • Digitization and automation to increase robustness and service quality
  • Scope-Management - efficient handling of requirements, timelines and budget limitations
  • From individual orders to programs and multi-project management

What are the influences that make IT projects a success or failure in the eyes of the sponsor?

  • From well-segregated projects to integrated solutions (portfolio management)
  • From mastering technology to mastering methodology (of Implementation)
  • From satisfaction of specifications to satisfaction of expectations
        "Can't they understand what I need?"
  • Responsiveness to change
        How quickly can shifts in requirements be addressed?

What are the influences that make IT projects a success or failure in the eyes of the user?

  • From being stuck with standards to leveraging standards to create individual solutions
  • From covering basic needs to individualized refinement
  • From long-term promises to short term benefits building up to a larger solution

I am sure these points will sound familiar to most of you. And there was one over-arching point that came up as a conclusion during the joint discussion. The one factor that is most important is the functional communication between all three groups. And this is where I advocate that change management must be more than the buffer position in your budget plan and more than a stack of ppt slides. Managing change requires skills to actually engage people and make them participate rather than endure.

To strengthen our capabilities to address this need bpExperts has started training our own team and partners with the management consulting team of HILL International to provide people-centric change management that actually meets its objective to develop, stabilize and optimize organizations within a smooth transition.