I have recently been privileged to participate in the process of product selection by two ‘best in class’ organisations. It is my experience each time you deal with a best in class organisation you always have learns and are reminded there is no substitute for doing a process properly. As my dear mother always said, “If it is worth doing, it is worth doing well.”

Firstly, some quick background on the organisations. This blog post is not about the companies per se but rather how best in class organisations go about their work. Both organisations are global; one organisation operates in business services, and the other in the resources sector.

Both businesses approached their problems with laser-like focus on their own business pain point but they were also ensuring whatever solution was deployed could evolve into an enterprise business process solution. Another notable aspect was that both organisations sought to heavily involve their business users in the selection process. This was in itself not noteworthy except the goal of the selection was that, going forward, the business users would actively participate and even build processes from scratch. To succeed in the eyes of the business these were not to be IT dependant projects.

One organisation went so far as to ensure that the choice of product would not create new workloads for IT. This was unique and recognised the maturity of the organisation in addressing change and new technologies. Staff outside the IT department needed to be able to build production quality processes. The view, at this organisation, was also that all processes did not need to be fully researched and defined before they could be deployed. It was acceptable that the definition of the process, to start the build, did not have to be complete from cradle to grave with all permutations thought through and documented (design by doing). The organisation is mature enough to adapt the processes as part of continuous improvement. That is to say that if the initial processes were undercooked, the fact that the journey of digitisation had started was success in itself, rather than imperfection being considered a failure. It does remind me of a favourite saying from a business colleague of mine, Michael Sheehan, who always says, “an imperfect idea acted on, beats a perfect idea not acted on.”

Both organisations started out looking at only two vendor companies and after discussions went forward with a proof of concept (POC). In the case of both companies I think this approach was not arrogance or misplaced belief but rather a sign of the confidence they have in executing projects. They are best in class after all. They know that when they approach a project they will achieve world class outcomes; they have the people, processes and attitude to ensure that what they do is the best.

Over the years I have heard often the arguments for and against using a POC. In both these product selection processes the POC was used to good effect and maximised the benefit to the buying organisation.

The interesting point about the business pains that both companies wanted to resolve was that the outcome could be measured with empirical data. The one organisation wanted to remove lag time from activities, as this reduction would directly translate into lower project costs and quicker conversion to a revenue stream. The other organisation wanted to guarantee that all staff head count increases were processed through the company’s procedures and all reviewers participated, with the aim that all head counts translated directly into achieving company goals, thus keeping their biggest cost under tight control. These ‘pain points’ drove the product selection process but the remarkable fact is that both organisations kept the goal of having an overall enterprise solution.

The Aberdeen Group recently released a survey report where they found that best in class organisations are 65% more likely than ‘all others’ to have implemented BPM software. To start out on a BPM project the survey found the key BPM strategies best in class organisations adopted include: 56% remap and re-engineer business process to be more efficient, 35% had the strategy to promote collaboration between disparate business processes and units and 25% to improve visibility into workflows. In both the reviewing organisations these strategies were key to their decision making process.

Ultimately the real takeaway was both organisations avoided soft options and soft justifications.  It was a pleasure for my organisation to be involved.  If you are wondering … we were successful in one bid and unfortunately we lost out to a great competitor for the other deal. Our team is better for the experience.

The author represents XMPro Intelligent Business Operations software, a leading provider of BPM software.

You can read more about Professional Advantage and business process management and XMPro here.

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