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Learning Nugget 11 - Business Process 101

What is a business process ?

How do you improve or innovate a business process ?

How do you even define a business process ?

If the goal of every single executive on the planet is to improve business processes, shouldn’t we have some ability to describe in simple terms how to do this ?

Process reengineering has been around for a long long time. In fact a very long time, over 50 years.

In Learning Nuggets 9 and 10 we learned that process was the core of change and the core of innovation.

Welcome to the process revolution ! Here is a short 3:40 min video that does a good job of providing an overview of business process change.

For those who want to learn about process transformation occurring across various industries, including those of your customers, here are a few sites worthy of some of your time:

The technologies you sell provide the ability for organisations to change processes. But in globally connected ecosystems process are no longer strictly internal.

More over most organisations can’t define their existing processes.

Lets look at yours.

What is your sales process ?

Some would argue that its SPIN, TAS, Huthwaite, Solution Selling, VFS, etc. But they are all methodologies. Not a process.

You could argue that there isn’t one sales process…..there are many. If a customer calls up and asks to buy a trunk, or a router, or some licenses, the process by which that order is taken is very different to a customer who wants to buy a new contact centre architecture, or design a new enterprise architecture.

Processes have many levels. The Business Process Management (BPM) industry standard is 5 levels. Sales process would be level 1, below that may have categories like demand creation and demand reaction as level 2. Within demand creation it may include prospecting, preparation, research etc as level 3. Level 4 could then be something like executive goal research, and level 5 is always that actual task. That is looking at the executives Linkedin profile (as an example).

Every process can be broken down into these 5 categories.

But BPM isn’t merely understanding what the existing process is.

BPM is about process improvement or process innovation. What the difference ?

We’ve all head of TQM, Lean, Six Sigma and more recently Agile. Improvement or innovation ? In nearly every case they’ve been implemented they have been implemented as “improvement” initiatives. Not innovation.

Thomas Davenport probably provides the best illustration of the difference between the two.

The question we must ask ourselves is do we need to be process experts, or more specifically BPM experts ? The answer is no.

But should we be able to hold an intelligent conversation on the subject…..yes.

Especially when in the envision element of BOLD we are trying to envision new processes, new ways of working differently and better enabled by the capability of your technology portfolio.

The following is a 10 min video from Appian on an introduction to BPM.

It may come across as a bit dry and boring. For those (unlike me) who are not excited by business processes, it can be a bit of a challenge to get enthusiastic about business processes. But in this short 10 min video you will learn enough to dramatically improve your ability to have powerful compelling process discussions with many executives (many of whom also have no desire to be process experts, or like you, are just as bored by deeply learning how processes work).

What these executives want is people who can help them.

People who understand process and process innovation / improvement enough to de-risk their investments and help them with a greater probability of success in their transformation initiatives. Having some BPM vocabulary in your arsenal helps differentiate against those merely pushing technology.

This is probably the best video I’ve ever seen that provides a comprehensive introduction to the basics of BPM and many of the methodologies the industry uses.

Google BPM, there is so much stuff out there is scary.

As always I would love to debate this with anyone who’s up for it, mind you it’s a subject I deeply enjoy so buckle up !!

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