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About Got ERP?

Welcome to gotERP?
This is an online forum to share experiences, lessons and learning about the selection, implementation and return on investment for Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems. We also like to discuss Customer Relationship Management software (CRM) systems, Social CRM (SCRM) & social media, Manufacturing Systems, Supply Chain Management (SCM) systems and Payroll & HR Applications.




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Using BPM to Prevent Automating Broken Processes

Aligning Business Processes with Application Software Delivers Synergistic Results

To help your business operate smarter and faster, you brought in the right information technology (IT) hardware and layered it with the right business software applications, from a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software suite to packages for Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Supply Chain Management (SCM).

Yet at the end of the day, or the quarter, or the year, it sometimes seems that things inside your business aren't improving as quickly as expected, even though you are leveraging all of that new technology.

Perhaps, according to a sampling of analysts and IT users, that's because you're in part trying to change the wrong things. New business software applications are both promising and alluring and can deliver improved productivity and revenue potential, but before those things can achieve big benefits, your company probably has to do some changing and improvements in the ways that internal processes are performed and decisions are made.

That's where Business Process Management (BPM) applications fit in. Often, it's not the business software that needs to be refreshed first. Instead, what's needed is a review and change in those high volume business processes that your company repeats over and over again, sometimes with mediocre results.

Business process improvement or reengineering is difficult work, and there are often plenty of people and processes inside your company that are going to be resistant to needed change, says Daryl Plummer, an analyst and chief of BPM research for Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc.

Plummer, who spoke on this topic at the Pegasystems PegaWORLD 2010 user conference in Philadelphia, said the natural resistance that humans have to change is often very evident within companies of all sizes when it comes time to make business processes work better. "Staff are used to doing things a certain way, or people don't want to lose their jobs" due to the impacts of such process changes, he said. "They are either protectionist or unaware." The problem is that those attitudes will hold your business back big time, especially if you've already recognized these kinds of problems in the past but chose to live with them rather than try to remedy them.

"Today, in the 21st century, you just can't compete if you don't change something about the way you used to operate," Plummer advised. To keep moving forward, companies have to constantly advance their business processes to their greatest advantage, he said. But while most companies can readily recognize their most obvious assets - their employees, products, production facilities and distribution systems - they often leave out one of their most critical components, the critical business processes that they day i and day out to accomplish all the tasks and work they have to get done.

BPM analysts like Plummer have been researching the topic and delivering messages about its importance to business leaders in an effort to help them understand how valuable such process optimizations can be for their companies. As the global economy continues to slowly improve, companies that are using business process management (BPM) methods and tools will show significant gains by being ready to react more quickly when consumers and businesses start buying products and services in earnest again, Plummer said. "All of our companies have processes that need to be transformed," he acknowledged. "You have to think about how to do things differently" to improve design, production, sales, marketing, distribution, manufacturing and more. "If you're going to be a driving force in your business, you must transform to succeed. When it gets better, you have to be ready. When the downturn turns to an uprise, those who are still trying to do more with less will be the first ones against the wall."

"It's going to be hard" to raise and implement changes inside a rigid business culture, he said. "But companies that don't adjust and change will die."

To implement a BPM culture inside your company, you have to train your staff to think differently, to closely think about the processes they use to do their jobs and to determine where process improvements can be made. "You need to have objectives and goals that are matched," says Plummer. "Transformation must become endemic."

It won't all happen at once, though. "BPM has a long way to go" to become as pervasive as ERP and CRM systems inside businesses, he said. "It's reached mainstream, but not a $3 billion market. Most companies are reluctant to change. It's going to take a while to penetrate, and require lots of education."

To get started, businesses will have to obtain a BPM modeling tool, or a process engine to create a baseline, evaluate what they do now and how they can bring about process changes that will advance their operations. That can be followed by more advanced steps and by investing in organizational readiness, change management programs, staffing skills and alignment of your corporate strategies with your business processes across the board. "It's amazing how few companies have goals but not the strategies to get there through processes," Plummer noted.

One of the biggest opportunities from BPM methods and tools is that it empowers individual users to personally suggest and integrate needed changes by directly adding altered and improved processes into the PBM applications. According to one conference user, "It allows for faster change and for improvements, but it does scare the IT folks" because some of the process improvements can be implemented or integrated without having to ask the IT department to write new code. "It terrifies them" because they worry that it will negatively impact their jobs or cause them to be less valued, he said. "It's something we have to work out."

Connie Moore, an analyst with Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc., called BPM a discipline that every successful company will have to implement to stay competitive. It goes back to that idea of buying new hardware and software all the time, but then implementing the new technology using the same old methods from the past, she said. "Technology shifts and this is one of those big shifts," Moore advised. "Change is scary, but change is necessary. Change is imperative. We better learn to love change" because change is coming whether we like it or not, from compliance requirements to digital records to environmental and natural resource changes. "If you don't like change, go to another planet."

But if you choose to embrace change, then BPM can help, she said. "That's why I think BPM is so incredibly powerful," Moore said. "It allows you to do your work in different ways by changing processes and business rules. It makes it easier to manage change in an organized fashion and to keep doing it. This is evolutionary change that never stops."

Yes, change can be scary. But the consequence of doing nothing is even scarier. Just ask the folks who used to work for the now-defunct companies including Pontiac, Saturn and Edsel.

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