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Selling your CEO on BPM

To build support for business process management, keep it simple.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Slow and steady wins the race -- at least when it comes to implementing IT disciplines such as business process management (BPM). At least, that's the advice of some BPM experts.

Start small and get results first if you expect to win management's support for broader implementation.

"Don't try to solve world hunger," said David Cappuccio, managing vice president at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc.

Business process management is software that automates and monitors business processes within a business. A relatively new trend, BPM still needs to prove itself in most companies. At this week's Gartner Business Process Management Summit, Cappuccio said a BPM project team must demonstrate small successes and build a case for further implementation. A BPM team must reduce risk and avoid the more complex business processes at the beginning.

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"To get proof of success you start with low risk," he said. "When you succeed at doing the quick project, then you get funding for the second one with more complexity. Some companies start with high complexity and high risk [processes] and they end up in project hell."

To continue building support for BPM in a company, the CIO and his team should avoid other pitfalls, as well.

First, BPM must be business-driven, not IT-driven. Although BPM has the potential to link a company's IT organization to the rest of the business, CIOs must realize that BPM is a business-driven project. It should serve a business's needs. If the project is driven by IT, the return on investment will suffer.

"BPM is not an IT project, but it is implemented by IT," Cappuccio said. "It enables BPM, but it doesn't drive it." Projects that are IT-driven run the risk of having no ties to business strategies, goals and objectives.

A BPM project must also be shepherded by an executive with "governance authority," Cappuccio said. "The lack of an owner with governance authority will lead to some groups taking over and adding more complexity, which brings rising costs."

Saul Brand, a business relationship manager at The Walt Disney Co. in Burbank, Calif., agreed that a BPM project needs strong leadership from the top to protect against "scope creep." Brand just joined Disney after spending two years implementing BPM solutions for El Segundo, Calif.-based Mattel Inc.

"Scope creep becomes a big problem," Brand said. "During organizational change, we experienced a tremendous challenge. Each new division head had his own ideas about the project's scope.

"The key to all this is having executives and senior management getting behind the project," said Brand, who will be involved in implementing BPM at Disney. "It has to be pushed from the top down, not bottom up."

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Shamus McGillicuddy, News Writer

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