The problem: You need to simplify people-intensive business processes such as managing approval for loans or ensuring proper billing for insurance claims. The answer? Most commonly, companies look for an automation solution, based on workflow management, document management or business process management (BPM) tools. But this technology-first approach doesn't work — and could even increase your costs.
Too often, says Ron Wince, CEO of the business process consultancy Guidon Performance Solutions, companies that implement a BPM tool are left wondering why their ROI was so small or why their headcounts increased after jobs were supposed to be automated away. They didn't choose the wrong tool, he says: They forgot that BPM is first and foremost about processes. However, other companies are demonstrating how to succeed with BPM — and proving that if you're thinking of BPM narrowly, you need to regroup.
To date, few companies have taken BPM to the level long-promised by vendors, in which BPM tools orchestrate end-to-end processes across a wide swath of the business
Motorola, for one, offers a model for how an enterprise should approach BPM. The communications equipment manufacturer has long been process-driven, using techniques such as Six Sigma to understand and continually improve its processes. Three years ago, CIO Patty Morrison saw that BPM technology was becoming mature enough to give her group a process-oriented tool in addition to the Web services and enterprise application integration (EAI) tools widely used within Motorola at the time to help achieve three major goals: improve integration within the company, link departmental processes more closely and standardize processes across units where possible.
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