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BPM as a cornerstone for any digital transformation

Many organisations are in the process of a digital transformation or are considering it. Often these transformations are technology-driven, with the idea being that the tool will take care of the optimisation.



But nothing could be further from the truth: the basis of any digital transformation is the process with the customer, the employee, with partners and suppliers. A tangle of processes, activities and manual and automated tasks that can kill a digital transformation.


BPM follows a life cycle


Business process management (BPM) is a framework for identifying, discovering, analysing, optimising, simulating and observing processes. Any organisation that has a good grip on its processes is ready for digital transformation.


BPM has a life cycle, running from identifying processes through discovery and analysis to optimisation, simulation, implementation and observation and back again to discovery.


Identify which processes are relevant


The first stage in the life cycle is to identify all processes. In a process architecture, all organisational processes are named. Customer processes are also ideally part of the process portfolio.


Often, organisations have described the - usually internal - organisational processes, but these are not up to date and are also incomplete. The organisational processes are usually not described from the employee's perspective. And even more often, customer processes are missing.


For a successful digital transformation, it is essential that all relevant processes are mapped and that customer and employee processes are included in the process portfolio.


Find out which processes belong together


The second stage is to discover the processes that belong together.


Here you put together an end-to-end process that transcends departments and functional processes. An end-to-end process starts with the customer's need and ends with delivering value to the customer that satisfies the need.


Normally, you get the sub-processes from the process architecture. But if that overview is not yet complete, you make sure that the 'new' processes are still included in the process architecture.


Analyse the problems and define the requirements


The third phase is to discover the processes and write them down in an "as is" (or "ist") model.

Without getting too lost in the details, because the ultimate goal is process optimisation, not closets full of process manuals.


Analyse the "bottlenecks" (bottle necks) and "loops" (loops) that make the process inefficient and often ineffective. Spend the necessary time on that analysis. If you overlook essential issues here, your entire digital transformation could backfire.


Also establish the requirements (demands and wishes) that should improve the process. In doing so, keep in mind the success factors and performance indicators that have already been established in the early stages at the start of the digital transformation.


Also establish the requirements (demands and wishes) that should improve the process. In doing so, keep in mind the success factors and performance indicators that have already been established in the early stages at the start of the digital transformation.


Design the optimal process


Now you are ready to optimize the processes in a "to be" model. Really think from the customer and the employee and other stakeholders such as partners and suppliers.


Always (!) keep the ultimate value to the customer in mind. "Does the outcome of this process have value for the customer?" Also, do not assume the existing situation and processes, but look right through all the processes and

come up with a totally new approach if it has value.


Test before you go 'live



Even though the process is so 'to be,' in practice it may not be completely optimal for 1001 reasons. So it is important to simulate the new process in a digital 'live' environment. Especially if there are a lot of variables in the process, it can be useful to simulate it digitally.


Of course, you can also test the new process with real people in a "brown paper" session. This is especially desirable if the process involves many different people who have essential roles in the process and can 'dry practice' this way.


Make it work


All sorts of things can still go wrong when implementing the optimised processes. So do this literally with policy.


Keep in mind that people may have been used to a certain way of working for years. Think of the implementation as a change process where people need to be guided into the new way of working.


Depending on the quality and depth of the 'to be' process models, processes can be automated quickly. Consult intensively with all stakeholders and keep a close eye on the effect on other processes. It is precisely in the interaction with other processes that things can sometimes go wrong, especially if they have not yet been optimised.




Keep measuring and optimising


Continuously observing the performance and value of the processes is essential for a successful digital transformation. In this phase, you evaluate the processes against the previously established performance indicators.


Processes that turn out not to be optimal after all - because they do not provide value to the customer or because they are still too inefficient - are still adjusted.


Follow the lifecycle of continuous optimisation


The latter is actually the essence of BPM: continuously observing, evaluating and optimising processes. After observing, you go back into the Discovery phase.


Is a process optimal? Then you grab the next process for improvement, depending on the success factors determined by the digital ambition. Again: BPM is not just about internal organisational processes. Especially in a digital transformation, the focus is on the customer experience or 'customer experience' (CX) and the employee experience or 'employeer experience' (EX). That is where the gains can be made.


Free Poster 'Towards continuous process improvement'


TIMAF has included the business process management life cycle in a handy poster. Here you will find all phases of the BPM life cycle, which runs from identifying processes via discovery and analysis to optimisation, simulation, implementation and observation and back again to discovery.


You can use this poster to explain to your colleagues and clients what process management is all about and how to work towards optimal processes.




Attend the BPM training in April


Want to know more about the role of BPM in digital transformation?


Erik Hartman will give a 4-day BPM training in April. Here, you will get all the tools, methodologies and best practices to optimise the value and efficiency of your processes.




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