Alignment through Business Process Management
What do we enjoy about leisure activities? A symphony’s crescendo. A well executed touchdown. A sunset from a summit. We love the harmony. But in business, there is also value. Along with that feel good moment, alignment creates value. It ensures the whole is worth more than the sum of the parts. And the potential for alignment is in many directions. We want to be aligned to customers, shareholders, employees and our communities. But alignment only occurs through design.
In a phone conversation this week, someone asked me what BPM is. To me it is the design of the alignment. BPM isn’t the only discipline driving alignment. In another conversation with a private equity sponsor, when asked about their upstream measures of alignment, I was quickly given financial metrics which if crossed triggered an action. In such an advanced market economy, we have very refined measures for alignment to the requirements of capital. And alignment with customers is the essence of Voice of the Customer.
So where can the elements offered in SSQ’s business process alignment focus? How do we contribute to an organization’s quest for value? We focus on aligning processes vertically and horizontally using KPI metrics.
We introduce scorecards or dashboards as a way to monitor alignment vertically in an organization. The built-in ability of cascading scorecards, regardless of the number of hierarchies, depicts how the business rolls up from any perspectives. While easily attained but it is readily understood and accepted. It fits our view of organizations and compensation systems.
A greater challenge is achieving horizontal alignment. Even though vertically defined functions and groups have a stake in a company's outcomes, many times the overall company fails to optimize its potential because resources and information are “owned” by the vertical components. Thus, we create silos. I am an optimist and believe people want to work together. But I also believe in our quest for simplicity and accountability, we’ve failed to fully understand horizontal relationships and created incentive systems that drive people to work on their own.
So our implementation of BPM seeks to facilitate an organizations’ understanding of how a course of action adopted by one function impacts other functions. We seek to aid the company building a systems approach by giving the various vertical entities visibility into each other’s plans, resources and performance gaps based on internal and external customer requirements.
We finally seek to redefine the KPI’s balancing the vertical requirements with the horizontal requirements to get the alignment in harmony. By comparing those KPI’s with actual performance we help a company define the projects and activities that will close the gaps to the highest scorecard to ensure we also meet external alignment.
The BPM we introduce has many benefits. It examines and aligns to scorecards. In ensures financial and vertical measures are met by building the muscle tissue in the form of process definitions. It focuses on KPIs, performance gaps and prioritized project lists. But it is unique in its facilitation of an understanding and acceptance of horizontal alignment and thus takes organizations a step closer to its optimal value creation.
So in answer to the question for a definition of BPM, I say the essense is alignment. And in answer to what we bring different than any other focus, we feel we facilitate overcoming horizontal barriers to value creation. If you’d like to discuss these concepts and how we can help your organization, contact me.