You can definitely cure a bad business process with BPM software

By Peter Schooff on March 9, 2011 10:04 AM

Several weeks ago, I asked the following question on the forum: Can you cure a bad business process with BPM software?

Several days ago, Connie Moore from Forrester Research wrote the following response to the question. Also, don't forget that on March 10 Connie's Forrester colleague, Craig Le Clair, will be speaking at the BPM in Action Virtual Conference.

What follows is Connie Moore's response:

At the risk of sounding like a total contrarian, I'll take a counter-intuitive position and say without any doubt at all: ABSOLUTELY, you can definitely cure a bad business process with BPM software.

Why? Because I've seen it done many times over my 20 year career. In fact, companies with crummy processes often get the highest ROI and continued payback of any organizations implementing BPM suites.

Let me give you an example. A large financial services company had a core process for relocating employees and selling their houses as part of a business service provided to corporate customers. This process required a lot of interaction with many different entities, including people who were selling their houses, banks, title companies, real estate agencies, and many other participants in the process. The interaction involved a lot of forms and documents, and often the data entered from paper forms was incorrectly keyed. That meant errors entered into the system slowed down the entire process, requiring substantial amounts of rework and adding cost to the process. The whole process was inefficient, poorly designed and highly manual from start to finish.

So of course, the inevitable happened when the company automated the process with e-forms and workflow, along with data entry validation and single sign-on. Savings during the first 12 months approximated $5M and savings for the next several years were in the $2M/year range.

Now, this didn't mean they had a continuously improved process and it didn't mean they had transformed the business process for years to come, but it did mean they went from a horribly archaic system to an advanced e-forms/bpm system and delivered huge savings along the way.

The challenge then was to continue down this path, shifting from a major automation effort into a continuous improvement path. When companies continue to push forward with continuous improvement, they get even more benefits and can keep their business processes aligned with all the inevitable changes that constantly creep into the process. The morale of the story? Automating a bad process can save millions; automating a bad process and then continuing down the continuous improvement path can save even more. Don't stop--keep going.


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