"I know that our organisation will really benefit from a BPM system, but I am having real trouble securing budget for one."
Is this how you feel? If so, it probably means that your business case is not getting buy-in from the Senior Management Team (SMT), because it is not persuading them that the returns on the investment required are of sufficient value.
So why is this? And most importantly, how do you build a business case to secure budget for BPM?
Firstly lets look at why your business case might not be persuading your leadership team to invest in BPM.
How Not to Build a Business Case for BPM
Really common reasons why business cases for BPM don't get senior support, are that they focus on:
(a) the BPM system
(b) how BPM will solve a problem that is not important to the SMT
Don't focus on the BPM system
As the person who has spent time researching BPM and BPM systems, even if you haven't made a final decision on which system to go for, it is very easy to become excited about the details of a system and include far too much information about it in your business case.
Don't do this. Your leadership team really aren't interested in how any systems work, what features they contain or what they can do. Giving them this information will switch them off, before they get started.
The SMT are interested in business cases for investment in projects and systems which solve a problem that they believe that it is important to solve. They don't want to know the nuts and bolts of how you are proposing to do this, just that you will and what the resulting benefits will be.
Don't focus on non-strategic benefits
BPM can deliver a lot of benefits at a lot of levels, throughout your organisation. If you are a Quality Manager for example, installing a new easy to understand, easy to use BPM system will undoubtedly make your life a great deal easier - but explaining this to the leadership team will not make them reach for their (metaphorical) cheque books.
Oddly making your life easier is not at the top of the list of things that concern the SMT, so don't include it in your business case. Think instead how a benefit to you, might in fact be of strategic benefit to the whole organisation...
One of the reasons that BPM systems make our lives easier is, because they save our time. As well as saving a Quality Manager's time, a BPM system will also save the time of all its end users. Now that is more likely to get the interest of the leadership team - explaining how each time someone looks for a form (for example) they will save at least 10 minutes and as this is an action repeated 10 times a day, by 100 employees - that is 10,000 minutes or 167 hours saved each day - which equates to many thousands of pounds of efficiency savings each day.
How to Build a Business Case for BPM
So having looked at what not to do, how should you build a business case for BPM?
Well it helps to remind yourself of the definition of Business Process Management.
What is Business Process Management (BPM)?
If you Google this question, a variety of definitions are returned; the two I find most useful are:
Business process management (BPM) is a field in operations management that focuses on improving corporate performance by managing and optimising a company's business processes. Theodore Panagacos (25 September 2012). The Ultimate Guide to Business Process Management: Everything You Need to Know and How to Apply It to Your Organization.
"Business process management (BPM) is a discipline that uses various methods to discover, model, analyze, measure, improve, and optimize business processes. A business process coordinates the behavior of people, systems, information, and things to produce business outcomes in support of a business strategy. BPM is key to align IT/OT investments to business strategy." Gartner. "Business process management (BPM)".
Neither of these are the explanation to include in your business case, but there are some key phrases to focus on:
- “improving corporate performance”
- “improving business performance outcomes and operational agility”
- "...improve and optimize business processes"
- "produce business outcomes in support of a business strategy"
What leadership team doesn’t want to do this?
Lead with the corporate objective
Identify the strategic initiatives that BPM will support. Capture these as documented in your corporate plan and lead your business case with them.
Then show the link between achieving these and “improving and optimising business processes”. Show how in your organisation BPM will produce the business outcomes in support of your organisations business strategy.
It is really important to use the language that your leadership team have agreed to and signed off, but strategic objectives are very likely to be around:
- Increasing revenue
- Reducing waste
- Reducing costs
- Delivering more value
Your leadership will value projects that deliver on these objectives very highly.
Other problems that your SMT would like solved
Other problems that BPM solve are more specific, but may well be a corporate objective:
- Return to business-as-usual following a merger or acquisition
- Business and IT alignment (to support implementation of an ERP system for example)
- Knowledge retention
- Process control
- Risk management
- Restructure of the organisation
- Business transformation or change
- Compliance to business critical regulations (for example FCA)
On occasion the decisions may already have been taken to approach a problem in a certain way:
- Implementation of Lean or continual improvement
- Quality standard accreditations (for example ISO and TickIT)
- Adherence to a best practice model (for example EFQM Excellence Model)
And all that is needed is for the link to be made between achieving this and BPM.
On other occasions a specific problem has been identified and how BPM solves it is what should be explained:
- Lack of a consistent way of working
- The need for standardisation between department
- The need to eliminate single points of failure
- A requirement for support for training and induction
Start with the place that your audience have already reached and take your explanation from there.
Write your business plan for its readers
Think carefully about who your business plan audience is and what is important to them.
Your FD is likely to be concerned about Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) compliance, financial risk management and cost savings.
Your Operations Director is likely to be concerned about process efficiency, operational excellence, retention...
But if actually it is the IT Director that you need to get buy-in from in order to secure budget, focus on how BPM is key to aligning IT investments to business strategy.
Explain how BPM solves their problem(s)
Keep your business plan focused on just the problem(s) that its audience are interested in solving, and explain:
Business Process Management enables an organisation to:
- Establish what is currently happening, how predictably and why
- Measure how efficiently the process is working
- Gather information to understand where waste and inefficiency exist and their impact
- Develop new improved processes to address the issue
Or in other words:
Business Process Management is a way to capture a model of how an organisation works (the AS-IS). Once this is in place, improvements can be modelled (the TO-BE options) and once the best one is determined, the improvements can be made.
Include the figures
Certainly if your FD is a key decision maker on your budget, it is important to support your business case with the figures. This can be difficult to calculate, but it is worth making estimates of the quantifiable financial benefit if you possible can. For help on this read: Calculating Return on Investment (ROI) on Business Process Management (BPM)
The cost of inactivity
Tread cautiously with this one, but one other thing that you could add, if appropriate to your audience, is the potential cost of not addressing the issue. Could it be a quality failure that could end up in the news? If so the damage to your organisation’s reputation would far far outweigh the cost of addressing it now.
Triaster can help
With well over 20 years of experience with BPM and the Triaster BPM Systems, we can help you at every stage of your BPM journey, from finding out about what BPM is, to building your business case, to managing a successful implementation and delivering on your improvement objectives.
Much of this is captured in our A-Z Guide to BPM, which can be downloaded below:
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