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Griffin says beefing up organisational BPM capability also involves not only understanding the business process but also the outcome of that business process. He points out that it is pointless trying to implement new business processes or alter existing processes unless the effort is going to move the organisation on. "If it's cheaper and easier to do it by the standard processes in place now, no one will adopt it," he says. "Right down that value chain, there has to be value; that value has to be understood; that value has to be delivered as a result of the business process, and in the longer term, that value has to translate into a more competitive product."

Setting clear rules of engagement is also important. Business can be very tough and highly competitive, so if you want to develop a business relationship with your client, you cannot afford to try to "disintermediate" their business process, according to Griffin. "If you attempt to use the process to take over their business process, they're not going to engage," he says.

"To put it in the context of the Business Entry Point, we have three fundamental rules. We don't try and disintermediate between a government agency and their client. So we don't get between them and their client. We don't try and disintermediate a government agency and their intermediaries. So for example, we don't get between the Tax Office and the tax agents. And we don't ever try and get between an intermediary and their client. That's a fundamental no-no."

Establishing clear rules of engagement had improved the prospects for BEP's success, and allowed the team to add significant value, Griffin says.

"The other aspect is, we've also built a platform that allows us to be very, very flexible in delivering the type of information we deliver, and to a large extend that's a .Net MCMS platform. It meets our business needs very, very well and gives us a very flexible cost-effective program, which to a large extent has made us a viable business entity. It allows us to integrate our internal resources and integrate them very effectively with our business partners."

Centres of Excellence

One way organisations can enhance their BPM capabilities is to set up a "centre of excellence" staffed by highly skilled people, oriented around an improvement program like Six Sigma, says Jim Sinur, Gartner vice president and distinguished analyst. While such continuous improvement programs are useful in the first round of a BPM effort, they really come into their own after the BPM solution has given the organisation traction, he says.

WMC Resources has such a centre of excellence. McDonald says in order to improve a process you must first get it under control and then you must "make it capable" - a Six Sigma term. Setting up a centre of excellence can help those involved in BPM efforts to look at the organisation through a process lens right from the very beginning, while also giving the organisation a fresh view on process.

"Have the end in mind, and then clearly think about what the issues are and get that support from senior management," McDonald advises.

But the advice comes with a caveat. Based on CSC's own experience with centres of excellence and Six Sigma, Binney warns against adoption of a continuous improvement methodology until the organisation has achieved an initial, targeted and focused process improvement.

McDonald agrees. "You decide what your processes are, but then you've got to improve your processes. How do you improve your processes? You use Six Sigma as a process improvement tool, but your first thing is, you need processes. If you've got no processes you can't improve. In some areas like the operations it's very clear we've got processes: if you're running a mine or a mill you've got processes. But in our management systems area, shared services area, sometimes it wasn't quite as clear, so you have to develop the processes, and then you can apply Six Sigma to improve," he says.

Sinur warns it is relatively costly to set up a centre of excellence and recommends companies only do so when they are certain that huge benefits will come from such an initiative. "But the pluses are that if this works you can spread it very rapidly. And it's a great way to train people by coming to work shoulder to shoulder," he says.

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