Eager to recognize tangible ROI from existing investments, companies see Business Process Management Software (BPMS) as a silver bullet that can resolve many process-related issues. BPMS can automate workflows, enforce process and data consistency, and lay the foundation for further AI and automation efforts.
While the value of BPMS is being realized quicker than ever, before moving forward, careful consideration is needed to prioritize ideal processes for implementation. To fully appreciate potential benefits, we recommend that you examine your process against six key considerations.
1. Process Complexity: If a process is causing a “headache,” it may not necessarily mean that it is the best starting point for automation. The process itself is likely inefficient and will require re-engineering before implementation. In this case, be prepared to allocate additional resources to a redesign effort or select another process.
2. Business Criticality: Consider the criticality of the process to the core business. Prioritizing a highly critical process for implementation on a new platform often requires significant change management effort. Furthermore, while a properly planned implementation should not have significant issues in execution, there are always risks. Any roadblocks or setbacks could impact critical processes. A critical process is not an ideal candidate to test on a new and potentially unfamiliar technology.
3. Process Documentation: A well-documented process will be easier to translate into case stages and steps, as the handoffs and decision points are well established. This enables a diligent and comprehensive assessment prior to making a go/no-go decision. The team can be comfortable that all necessary steps are accurately presented.
However, just because a process is well-documented does not necessarily indicate that it is the best option for implementation. Documentation is unlikely to fully capture details surrounding aspects such as culture, leadership, and governance, nor is it likely to capture deviations from the norm or complex nuances.
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4. Integration Complexity: An often-overlooked consideration is whether the process is dependent on upstream workflows and external systems. A reliance on upstream work will add a high degree of implementation complexity, especially if the upstream process is also going to be implemented into the BPMS in a later phase. In this case, the system may need to be redesigned to accommodate the upstream workflow. Spending time on a comprehensive upfront analysis against potential integrations and dependencies can save significant effort during implementation.
5. Process Duration: If a process has a cycle time of months or years, or has an indefinite duration, it is likely not an ideal candidate for implementation. Such lengthy cycle times make it more difficult to prove ROI in an immediate timeframe, as value cannot be fully proven until the downstream process steps have been executed through the system many times. Regulatory processes with shorter timeframes (e.g. days or weeks versus months or years) and specific timeline constraints, such as regulatory document submission, are far more ideal for implementation.
6. Process Volume: Implementation business value is difficult to prove with processes that have only a handful of iterations. Even if those iterations are complex, more data is required. A steady, reliable volume should therefore be a key characteristic of the selected process.
If the six criteria listed above are not considered, companies could experience several challenges with implementing a BPMS. First, the implementation effort could drastically increase in scope—and therefore cost—as analyses reveal the full technical and operational complexity of the process. Furthermore, selecting the wrong process may not sufficiently prove the business value of a BPMS to key stakeholders, thus creating a skeptical attitude towards subsequent projects.
Thus, when a business embarks on a BPM journey and identifies a set of processes to automate as part of a BPM program, each option must be vetted with an objective eye. The six considerations above will help you better plan and structure your BPMS program. Once the right processes have been selected and implementation begins, organizations will begin to realize the tangible benefits of BPMS, including reduced overhead costs and enforced data and process consistency.
Rupen Mehta is a life sciences expert at PA Consulting.