Business process management/Charter for bpm democracy
|The Charters for BPM Program Governance - An Overview|
|Charter for the BPM Engine|
|Charter for BPM Democracy|
|Charter for Alignment|
|Charter for Conflict Resolution|
|Charter for BPM Investment|
|A Charters Glossary|
Frequent changes to deployed business processes require that new approaches to process adoption be employed. Without such changes, both end-user populations and the organizations that support these end-users will tend to exhibit a classic immune system reaction, trying to fight back against the change agent.
This Charter proposes an active participation society in which all parties can contribute to the improvement of the business. Elements of governmental democracy are applied to the concept of a BPM democracy, wherein the cultural principles of rule by the masses are coupled with aspects of BPM.
The application of some commonly accepted political concepts can expedite BPM adoption within an organization. Specifically, implementing changes that are driven by the population's voice is a faster way to success than trying to force something upon them.
At its most fundamental level, democracy represents the embodiment of public sentiment. A democratic society applies the collective will of the people into action. The ideals and the mechanisms used in democratic governments can be used to great effect with a BPM program.
This Charter explores the ideal of rule by the people and considers some mechanisms by which that can be managed efficiently and effectively.
For the purposes of this Charter, democracy is considered to be a system where the members of society have equal access to power. In any large democratic society, everyone cannot practically have equal power. However, everyone can influence decisions that are made and can express their opinions to generate open discussion and dialog.
Democracy implies that individuals at all levels can contribute to improvement of the business. This Charter considers how that can be accomplished in a process setting and what expectations are placed upon those individuals.
For this particular Charter, it is worth emphasizing why democracy is critical to the speed and to the success of a BPM program. While the other charters are intuitively required, this one seems to stand out as an anomaly.
Take a moment to think about how solutions are rolled out to end-users, and add in the notion that BPM solutions will be rolled out on a more frequent basis. Those end-users will have opinions and feedback, and be assured that they will discuss that feedback amongst themselves. Successful change management requires that these end-users embrace the changes.
Also consider that one of the major complaints with large IT organizations is that they are too slow to react and often deliver the wrong thing. The very controls that allow IT to manage large, complex systems stifle the innovation that has made end-user computing such a powerful force in the last ten years.
Application of the democratic ideal turns this problem on its head. It allows end-users to provide their feedback in a structured fashion so that they are included in the decisions, easing the change management effort. It then allows IT to take action based on prioritized feedback and by using a planning process where controls can still be employed.
Democracy does not equal the anarchy that many opponents believe will occur. In fact the opposite is true. It quells the anarchic desires to fight against the deployed systems or process solutions. It reduces the number of surprises that arise when solutions are released. The speed by which BPM can make a difference to an organization actually increases.
A successful corporate society is based on fulfillment of mutual expectations. BPM cultures are also based on this cooperation with the added characteristic that everyone tends to strive towards attainment of corporate goals and objectives. These BPM cultures exhibit certain expectations, and those that can deliver are more inclined to succeed. Two sets of expectations are described below.
Make Things Better
Every corporate citizen should expect that their employer will provide a certain set of working conditions and benefits. In exchange, every corporate citizen must contribute back to the organization. A BPM citizen embodies a desire and a willingness to make things better.
That betterment could be for selfish reasons (i.e. to make one's daily life easier and less stressful or to attain one's bonus compensation payout) or for more company-oriented reasons (i.e. to improve the bottom line or to excel above competitors). The important thing is that a good BPM citizen is trying to improve things.
Employers should expect that an individual understands how to contribute and the mechanisms that are made available to them. The leadership must educate the individuals on the corporate objectives and on the facilities that are established to incent contribution.
In return the individuals must actually contribute in an educated and constructive fashion. Individuals should also highlight when the system prevents them from effectively contributing so that adjustments can be made.
This requires critical thought and analysis. Doing something because it has always been done that way is not an effective way to sustain an organization.
In democracies access to power is equally available. That does not mean that power is equally distributed. Certain individuals will always have more power and control over direction than others. The distinction is that any individual can influence and participate in the decision-making process.
Applying this concept to a BPM program and culture, corporate citizens should be able to influence how processes work. It is their civic duty to drive for a better process. To do so effectively requires understanding
- The objectives of the business,
- Their role in the processes,
- How to make suggestions for change, and
- Assist in incorporating selected changes into the standard operating procedures.
This ability to participate is not restricted to isolated pockets of job responsibility either. The modern corporation has processes that cross functional silos, which means that action in one group often affects other teams. Project charters should be open for review, so that affected individuals can provide feedback. At a minimum, this can allow an organization to detect and to avoid duplicate or overlapping projects that ostensibly deliver the same business benefits.
The program team should correspondingly
- Facilitate the feedback process and make it accessible to all process participants,
- Prioritize the submitted feedback,
- Implement selected feedback, and
- Communicate progress and changes back to the population.
A program team that operates in isolation is doomed to failure with adoption and with realizing objectives. The implementations will be too far removed from what the participants actually want. There will be rejection of the system and much rework, not only in fixing the implementation but in overcoming a negative precedent.
Many solution teams today include select process participant representatives in the process, but even then, it is still too low touch. Not all of the end-user population can contribute feedback, and there is no way to really gauge how important a piece of feedback is. Too often, when releases are rolled out, it is unclear how those remaining users can provide feedback, or even if those users can provide feedback.
This needs to change. Equipping every process participant, whether at the individual activity level or at the process ownership level, with the tools and the information to provide feedback drives a more nimble and a more collaborative program environment. Reducing the friction for feedback allows the program to concentrate more energy and attention on executing against that feedback. This is better for all involved.
The end-user perspective is overlooked or forgotten in the battle between the business and IT. Delegates are appointed to make decisions and to specify requirements on behalf of the end-users. Techniques like Voice of Customer are intended to do good but do not always work. What better way to achieve the same intent than to include the end-users in the process? Then the delegates can pick amongst the prioritized feedback rather than trying to guess.
Checks and Balances
In a branched democracy, the concept of checks and balances prevents any one group from exerting too much power or control. This concept can be applied to different organizational elements as they relate to BPM programs too.
In the Charter for Alignment the topic of transparency is covered. Organizations can only operate efficiently when everyone understands the rules of engagement and how decisions are made. When that system is well-defined and well-communicated, it becomes exceedingly difficult for a particular group to operate outside of the best interests of the Leadership team and of the company.
Opening the system to checks and balances like peer reviews and roadmap discussions keeps the overall program moving in the same direction. Today's inefficiencies also start to dwindle. Duplicate projects with overlapping features and benefits stop being authorized, and the funding mix can be allocated towards the more meaningful projects.
- Democracies still require structured mechanisms to drive decision-making. Majority favor for changes and action should be implemented by specifically appointed delegates. There will always be outliers who generate noise, but the majority of the population will contribute useful feedback.
- Democracy is often, and mistakenly, interchanged with elections. Elections are only one vehicle that a democracy can leverage to determine the will of the people.
BPM offers a chance for organizations to quickly deliver process changes that are driven not only by top-down business needs but also from bottom-up feedback. This inclusive society can more quickly adopt and drive business benefit.
Mechanisms should be provided to facilitate and to encourage feedback and contribution to maker the process better. This includes not only the technical features and functions but a cultural drive to help individuals understand the importance of their contributions.