Business process management team mindset is the secret sauce for getting your company from where it is today to where it needs to go tomorrow. There are two key questions to ask yourself and your team.
First question: Which business process management systems (BPMS) do we currently have in place?
Business process management systems (BPMS) focus on improving corporate performance through managing and optimizing processes. These systems represent the intersection of your people (who), information (what you know), processes (how you execute and implement) and strategy (why your people incorporate what you know to produce output for customers).
If you are a small to medium size business (SMB) – from a vendor of elegant chocolates to a prime supplier of reverse-engineered obsolete manufactured components – you have business processes. It’s how you get stuff out the door into your customers’ houses and factories.
Let’s say you are a SMB engaged in creating custom fabricated output for a specific industry vertical. Your people work cross-functionally with individuals from other disciplines: engineering, sales, accounting, logistics, sourcing.
There are three key engagements for a successful business process management team:
- Your people work with multiple applications: CAD, order entry, project management office, invoicing.
- Each day is dynamic: no two days are ever the same. Your people anticipate making multiple choices, based on varying customer side and supply side conditions (availability of resources, for example).
- Each team member understands how what they do impacts what everyone else does. No one works in a functional silo.
Take an inventory of all the different business processes you currently have in place. Now ask yourself the second question.
Second question: How well do my business process management teams manage our existing business processes?
Business process management teams make decisions about how, why, when and where to use available applications to create output. Business process management systems are neither created nor executed by one person.
Here’s the Achilles Heel: Just because you have business process management applications in place does not ensure that your teams are integrating and managing these systems efficiently, productively or profitably.
Business process management teams can become absorbed in entering information into these applications programs. However, there is a difference between entering data into a business process management system and analyzing the implications of these data for your business growth.
Does this scenario sound like you?
One small manufacturing integrator with whom I worked had an accounting system. The general manager dutifully entered billing information. According to his analyses, the company was profitable. This company was considering acquiring a second company, because they were “poised for growth.”
Upon further examination, their team realized their sole business process management system was entering data into their accounting application. They were not factoring in amount of billable versus non-billable time into their profitability calculations. They had not included time from order to completion to cash in their equations, which negatively impacted cash flow. They were entering, but not tracking, the status of each project during design, engineering and operations. Their sales pipeline flowed in fits and spurts, created by external manufacturer’s reps who threw projects their way in an ad hoc manner.
This team was very busy being busy. However, the team realized there was very little strategy and virtually no processes involved in executing today’s business, let alone positioning themselves for growth.
Team culture trumps software applications
Once a customer relationship management (CRM) software application was coupled with a PMO (project management office) solution and their accounting software was upgraded from a household program to a business platform, this company started to hum along with purpose and passion.
Along the way, this team developed respect for the importance of a business process management team mindset. Their business outcome was not a matter of integrating a couple of plug-and-play software solutions. Their corporate culture made great strides in moving away from an authority-driven model towards a multi-disciplinary one.
What is the status of your own company’s business processes? Start off by asking yourself – and your teams – the two questions in this post.
Babette N. Ten Haken builds innovative, productive and profitable teams focused on excellence in the execution of strategy. Her Playbook on collaboration hacks, including tools, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com.