The shifting sands of BPM expectations: the business outcome vs. the sales pitch

shifting sand

Over the years a constant theme is that the ROI of a BPMS implementation or BPM approach is one of the trickiest to pin down and prove. Whilst you can calculate hard efficiency and headcount benefits (which is always the wrong way to solely measure and plan for BPM success) there are a myriad of intangible benefits which you can’t stick a price tag on for the Execs, such as improved workforce culture.

However there are many vendors who talk up the ROI game, wrapping the sales cycle in grandiose claims of large benefits and exceeding business outcomes with a sprinkling of fairy dust and it’s given rise to a bit of a negative trend: that the business slowly changes their original expectations to match those of the sales pitch.

Self-fulfilling prophesies

And of course this also shifts the expectation and definition of a successful BPMS implementation. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy and a win-win for everyone. Everyone except the business itself. The real benefits of BPM become eroded once you start to compromise your original intentions to match those of the slick presentation. Who can blame you when the numbers look so compelling ?

But here’s the real deal: a vendor, (in fact any enterprise software vendor) should never distract you from your goals for BPM. BPM is something personal to every organization and as such you shouldn’t have to compromise on what your vision is. Your vision, not theirs. Even when you’re in the throes of a difficult programme you should never lose sight of why you wanted to engage with the BPM beast in the first place.

As Lewis Carroll once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”  and the same can be said for giving up your true business outcome for BPM in place of one designed by the salesman.


5 responses to “The shifting sands of BPM expectations: the business outcome vs. the sales pitch

  1. Can’t agree more. Do you think BPM needs to be in the meeting rooms more than just a silo or CoE or PoC? I always thought that for BPM to be a true success it should be linked to Business more than IT. However, it would definitely interfere with politics, power and transparency.

  2. Not only does IT tend to regard everything as an integration issue, the IT processes don’t align with the business. Our business partners have been agile longer than we have, both by design and by accident. Vendors are happy once the purchase order is signed, IT is happy when the process is implemented, but the business lives with the process for a much longer period.

  3. Pingback: Shifting sands — BPM’s business outcome versus its sales pitch | Successful Workplace·

  4. I totally agree that BPMS implementation is primarily for business needs. However I’m not so sure if business should be totally uncompromising. Let’s say it does. They have very complicated demands and it appeared the only way is to build a custom, dedicated solution from the scratch. It takes millions of dollars, countless hours and when it’s finally over…business needs change. I asked an IT Dept. Director who had implemented BPMS about his approach in that matter. He basically said he wanted to implement a tool that is flexible and easy to use. Then he implemented core processes and over the time (with no external help) IT Dept. developed more complicated functionalities and other processes – because sometimes even the best assumptions are not enough and reality is what matters the most. That allowed him to save money and quickly respond to what business actually needs.

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