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Organizational Politics Will Prevent BPM Efforts

[Techtaffy Newsdesk]

Organizational politics are emerging as a challenge, and through 2016 they will prevent at least one-third of business process management (BPM) efforts progressing from one-off projects to enterprise-wide adoption, says Gartner.

A Gartner survey conducted in the fourth quarter of 2011 among 157 BPM professionals revealed that the main obstacle preventing further adoption of BPM was organizational politics (53 per cent of respondents).

“BPM as a discipline requires an organization to change its culture and its work practices,” said Elise Olding, research director at Gartner. “However, very often, this change can lead to power struggles between functional units or an unwillingness to adopt new ways of working, sometimes from senior individuals. These organizational politics can kill a BPM initiative if they are not managed effectively.

“BPM is frequently successful when applied to one-off projects at a departmental level with significant benefits. However, when it comes to scaling this success up to cross-departmental programs that require collaboration and shared metrics, or that institutionalize BPM throughout the organization, efforts often stall.”

For any BPM initiative to progress beyond simple process improvement projects of limited scope, efforts must be made to understand the organization’s politics, and disciplined efforts undertaken to address them.

“It’s up to the business process champion, sponsor or business process director to talk to stakeholders in order to understand and document their thoughts and positions, and so determine the best way of adapting the program,” said Ms. Olding.

Although organizational politics look set to hamper some BPM efforts, Gartner predicts that gamification — the broad trend of applying game mechanics to non-game environments to motivate people and change behavior — will stimulate BPM adoption during the next few years. Gartner predicts that, by 2015, 25 per cent of all redesigned processes will include one or more gamified engagement practices.

Although business processes are not games, they can benefit from a focus on more engaging process designs that deliver immediate feedback and encourage continuous improvement. For example, organizations can achieve better results from their process redesign efforts by increasing participant satisfaction with new processes, connecting participants to common goals, and providing immediate feedback on progress.

Gartner also predicts that, by 2016, 20 per cent of “shadow business processes” will be supported by BPM cloud platforms. Shadow business processes are hidden, informal work practices, often supported under the IT radar by secret spreadsheets, emails, phone calls and face-to-face collaboration.

Shadow processes can involve unstructured processes — that is, nonroutine work. Gartner expects that, by 2015, 40 per cent or more of enterprise work will be nonroutine, up from 25 per cent in 2010.

“BPM cloud platforms are a better and more cost-effective way to automate hidden processes than secret spreadsheets or uncoordinated email threads,” said Michele Cantara, research vice president at Gartner. “A BPM cloud platform — BPM platform as a service (BPM PaaS) — can track process steps, provide insight into work item status and help manage the collaborative interactions involved in unstructured processes.”

In particular, high-productivity BPM PaaS will provide shadow process owners with a more attractive and productive user experience, which will encourage them to share their shadow processes.

“To encourage shadow process owners to make their processes more visible, business process improvement leaders, application managers and enterprise architects should proactively suggest high-productivity BPM cloud platforms to their business process stakeholders,” said Ms. Cantara.

During the next four years, process-related skills, particularly those related to tackling organizational challenges, will become an imperative for organizations as they move from individual projects to enterprisewide process transformation programs. “Politics will be a challenge that some will not overcome, but the good news is that many of this year’s predictions point to a path that leads to BPM success,” said Ms. Olding.


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