BPM Software Pitfalls to Avoid – Top 3

Once you’ve assembled a BPM software dream team, discovered your processes, and automated them using business process software, it’s tempting to believe that your BPM work is done.  Not so!  Here are my top 3 pitfalls to avoid when implementing BPM software:

3.  Choosing the wrong BPM system

The BPM software you choose will have an enormous impact on the ease, cost, and sustainability of your BPM implementation. You may want to utilize your “BPM team” to come up with a comprehensive list of requirements, and make sure that the software, and the company that stands behind it, meets those needs.

Be sure to consider both technical features of the software, as well as the availability of related services such as training (more about this in a second), consulting, technical support, community forums, etc.  Also consider how the BPM system fits into your larger IT infrastructure, at present and with future IT plans in mind.  A software should be stable and powerful, but flexible to respond to changing BPM requirements as well as adapt to an evolving IT infrastructure.

There are a number of important questions you should ask before choosing a BPM system – far too many to list here. Check back soon for my list of questions.

2.  Neglecting to train your team

A key, if not the key, to BPM success is to train your team to take advantage of the system.  It is absolutely necessary to provide training and orientation to the people who will be using the software, as Patrick commented on my previous post.  Remember that end users, supervisors, and process architects will all need training, and may need it at different times, on different aspects of the software, and at differing levels of technical difficulty.

It is also important to remember that training should cover technical and end user aspects of the software itself, as well as more general BPM topics including BPM strategy, best practices, and of course, pitfalls.  This general orientation helps to give BPM users a framework and perspective from which to approach the BPM system.  Furthermore, management’s goals and expectations should be clearly expressed to end users as part of the orientation process, as I touched on in #10.  During the BPM training, it would also be a very good time to address any doubts, fears, and questions that team members may have about the BPM, as mentioned by José Carlos Gaspar in response to my previous post.

1. Forgetting to measure KPIs

It’s easy to take the benefits of BPM for granted. But how will you know your BPM implementation was successful? Before the project even starts, its important to have well-defined, clear indicators that will help measure BPM success. When selecting indicators, its important to choose specific indicators that can be easily measured. For example, its not enough to say “more efficient processing” or “fewer resources”. Rather, select specific KPIs such as “% decrease in average time per case” or “% increase in cases received”.

Furthermore, baseline indicators need to be established before the BPM system is taken live. If you’ve defined a KPI as “% increase in completed cases per month”, then you need to know how many cases were completed per month before the software was installed. It can be very hard to go back and recreate this pre-BPM data after the software is up and running, so be sure to plan in advance.

After the BPM system goes live, its important to monitor your results and determine if you are meeting those KPIs. The BPM software should be configured to generate specific reports regarding KPIs, so that bottlenecks can be identified and adjustments made to improve process efficiency. The business process management software you choose should be flexible enough to accommodate changes in process design, so that improvements can be made and optimal results achieved.

There you have it: my top 10 BPM software pitfalls, and tips to avoid them.  Again, many thanks to those who have commented and shared their insights.  What did I miss?  Is there anything on this list that you would add or change?

About This Author

Customer & Partner Support Manager for Colosa Inc. and ProcessMaker.

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  • Amy

    Is your list sorted by importance? In other words, do you believe setting KPI is the worst mistake?

    • Amy

      Hi Anatoly,

      I didn’t necessarily order the list in terms of “worst mistakes” to “better mistakes”; rather, I ranked KPIs #1 because I feel it is the most commonly overlooked and the easiest to forget about. I think as far as KPIs go, many companies (especially small companies) tend to overlook the need to establish a KPI baseline before implementing the BPM software. It usually occurs to them somewhere along the process of designing the workflows, when they start to design reports using the BPM itself. It takes extra time to measure KPIs, it isn’t always fun, and it can be hard to get good data on paper-based processes (especially in smaller companies) without automated BPM reports. So I put KPIs first because I think its the easiest one to forget about, and the most important one to demonstrating BPM success later on.

      What do you think?

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  • Amy

    Thank you for the clarification.

    I agree with your prerequsites but not with conclusions. KPI calculations are often omitted not because they are overlooked but because it’s hard enough to make them right (as you pointed out). Establishing measures systematically is a job comparable to implementing a business process within BPMS. Is a BSC project much easier than a BPM project?

    You are right that it often happens at small companies. I guess I can explain why. Typically a decision maker (top manager or business owner) is fully involved into BPM initiative of a small company. He looks at costs and results – all of them, short- and long-term, tactical and strategic, financial and cultural – and makes a decision. KPIs would be usefull but they cost money and what’s more important, time. Time is the most valuable resource of a BPM project – if you’ve spent too much, you loose. Sacrificing KPIs is justified within this logic.

    The problem of large organizations is that the project manager ought to communicate the project results to the top. Middle-man’s impressions and feelings obviously don’t count – he must provide figures. KPIs. But can your measure the cultural shift with KPIs? Can you predict the sales increase from the process improvement? KPIs are typically back-looking, short-term and material. We are trying to justify a strategic initative – which BPM is by definition – with tactical arguments.

    There is also a psychological aspect: most leaders are intuits while managers at the middle levels tend to be more analytical. Hence the former trust KPIs less than the latter.

    To sum things up: if your BPM project depends heavily on KPIs then you are in trouble.

    Kind reards

  • Mike

    When focusing on KPI’s it should start with What is the purpose of the process? Why does this process exist. From this point you can begin to determine the KPI’s and equally important is how and what to optimize in the process. It has been my experience that many aspects of a process have the grandfathered in effect. They are old, they are there and they do not serve the process other than people will tell you has always been there.
    Always ask the Why question 5 times as part of the process optimization and as part of the KPI development.

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  • Amy

    Hi Anatoly and Mike,

    Many thanks for your insightful additions! In response to your comments, I wanted to expand a bit further on my thoughts on KPIs, so I’ve written another blog post here .

    Thanks again for sharing your insights!

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