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How to Create Successful IT Projects With Value-Driven BPM

Successful IT projects can help generate large returns for organizations, but they can also be fraught with risk. Those who convert strategy into execution using business process management (BPM) capabilities will get the most benefit from their IT projects. In fact, many companies can realize immediate and lasting improvements in IT and people-based initiatives when they use a management discipline called value-driven BPM.

The most relevant IT projects for many organizations are those that have a direct business impact and support business processes. With that in mind, it is often beneficial to align resulting projects with each other and the required business outcomes. Value-driven BPM can provide the overall framework to help achieve those outcomes [1].

Initially, value-driven BPM can help focus efforts on the right processes. That includes optimizing and innovating the processes that can have the greatest impact on the execution of a business strategy while implementing commodity processes (about 80 percent of an organization's business processes [2]) using industry common and best practices. This approach can be advantageous in today's volatile and oftentimes uncertain business environment. It can help organizations get the most value from their IT projects and the required resources.

Technological innovations, such as cloud computing, software-as-a-service and other specialized devices, can give businesses more technological capability and flexibility than ever, but when managed properly the increased flexibility can foster an environment in which real business value can be achieved. Value-driven BPM can provide the necessary transparency to achieve that result.

Value-driven BPM can provide the structure to make IT projects work. The BPM strategy can help identify high impact, low maturity processes that may be the best targets for creating value. A process impact matrix can link processes to strategic imperatives, while capability assessment models can identify the maturity level of best-in-class competitors.

The subsequent segmentation--which is integral to the roadmap for value-driven BPM --can be used to evaluate how to "touch" a process. For instance: Which processes should be standardized or outsourced? Which processes should be optimized or automated? What should be centralized? And, most importantly, what is the high-level business case for the effort? The answers to these questions can set the foundation for successful IT projects.

After establishing priorities, value-driven BPM can deliver the methods, tools, and approaches, including the systematic use of process and other information models in a repository that may be applied to keep projects on track [3]. BPM can also define the usage scenarios for process repositories as well as other methods and tools to maximize the value that can be derived from them.

BPM transformation capabilities such as change management or the establishment of process communities can help enable adoption of resulting process improvements, including new or upgraded applications. And, IT initiatives can benefit from taking this people-focused approach from BPM.

Accenture research and experience has found that "only about 15 to 20 percent of an organization's processes create deep and differentiated competitive advantage." [4] Value-driven BPM can help define IT projects which optimize and innovate the processes that are central to value creation, and standardize those processes that support routine activities that organizations are called upon to execute to continue operating.

Many organizations find it difficult to assemble all of the diverse, distributed, and easy-to-acquire technologies into a coherent form that is tailored to a business' specific needs. Value-driven BPM can help achieve this objective and provide a roadmap that includes IT-based and other interventions to help CIOs and business leaders understand the impact of their IT projects.

The value-driven BPM approach can also identify which BPM capabilities should be established to maintain and grow process improvements over time. For example, implementing a business process automation engine may not be sufficient; an appropriate governance organization may also be needed to respond to changing business requirements. Hence, BPM can make the results from IT projects, like process automation initiatives, sustainable.

The Process of Process Management can make value-driven BPM and all its outcomes happen. That is one of the central tenets of value-driven BPM. Through the process of process management, value-driven BPM can come to life. It can define how the process organization works across the enterprise: focusing on value, the application of appropriate methods and tools, the delivery of process improvement initiatives and systematic people-related transformation activities.

Ideally, value-driven BPM becomes a built-in discipline for process management, creating a sustainable capability for adapting to change and transferring strategy into people and IT based execution --at pace with certainty. Value-driven BPM can bring strategy into action, and make strategy happen.

The following are among the characteristics we've witnessed among successful companies when they implement value-driven BPM through a Process of Process Management:

1. Senior Leadership commits to BPM. Senior management engages with IT leadership, aligning the BPM organization with the company's business and IT strategy to streamline decision making during implementation.

2. They create excitement and sustain interest with small projects that yield quick Benefits. Establishing value-driven BPM takes time, but successful companies add to the momentum by setting clear priorities that support their business goals and deliver quick results. They coordinate process improvements with the development of the BPM capability.

3. They keep it simple. They ask: "What will this be used for, by whom, to deliver what outcome?" while establishing the Process of Process Management to help simplify and reduce redundancy.

4. They extend an appropriate degree of freedom. Applying BPM too rigidly can make processes seem robotic and inflexible, and fail to encourage the agility a company needs. People need freedom to do their jobs. However, processes related to compliance or safety--such as those in finance or some production areas -- are often defined in detail in an effort to avoid accidents or legal issues, and there is little freedom to do things differently.

IT projects, whether they involve implementing company-specific software or standard software packages, can benefit from value-driven BPM as it can help to convert strategy into execution and enable projects to proceed with pace and certainty. And, value-driven BPM can achieve high performance through process excellence [5], with a cost-effective approach that emphasizes transparency and simplicity. Developing such a roadmap to value-driven BPM can help establish projects that deliver immediate benefits while building lasting capabilities to help enable delivery of IT projects with expected outcomes.

Mathias Kirchmer is a managing director in the BPM practice at Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company.

[1] Franz, P., Kirchmer, M.: Value-driven Business Process Management --The Value-Switch for Lasting Competitive Advantage. New York, 2012.

[2] Franz and Kirchmer: Value-driven Business Process Management --The Value-Switch for Lasting Competitive Advantage. New York, 2012, page 64

[3] Scheer, A.-W.: ARIS --Business Process Modeling. 2nd edition Berlin, New York, e.a. 1998.

[4] Franz and Kirchmer: Value-driven Business Process Management --The Value-Switch for Lasting Competitive Advantage. New York, 2012, page 57.

[5] Kirchmer, M.: High Performance through Process Excellence --From Strategy to Execution with Business Process Management. 2nd edition, Berline, New York, e.a. 2011.

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