Ian Gotts
January 04, 2017

Why Do Internal BPM Projects Fail?

Screenshot 2017-01-04 21.55.17.png

We have just completed a 12 week project where I have been the Program Manager for a critical business transformation project for a multi-national company that delivers major ($1-10 billion) construction projects. The first phase, which has just finished, was a proof of concept. The objective was to develop a hierarchical process map for their Deliver Construction Project process. But as it is so huge – 90% of the employees are engaged in delivering construction projects – we were asked to only map down a few levels. In fact in many places we went down much further. Down far enough to prove that the approach would work, to build a business case for roll-out, and to develop implementation plans.

Innocent bystanders

Therefore my team facilitated the workshops and developed the process maps. The client staff were the subject matter experts in the workshops; engaged but innocent bystanders.

For the next phase the client has just decided that they want to pick up where we have left off. They want us to train a couple of their team to use the mapping tool and they will take it from there. But I can see that this could be high risk approach. They have been involved in some workshops and mapping. They have not been exposed to what is the most important part; thinking about how to personalize and present the content to their employees so that they actually want to use it, and then encouraging or driving adoption.

Don’t get me wrong. I have absolutely no interest in spending the next year away from home working at the client. So my comments are not a way to generate follow on work for me or the team. But the client doesn’t know what they don’t know. The initial project had no element of skills transfer as it was not scoped or planned that way because it was expected that this would be in a second phase. Plus my team are so polished at facilitating the workshops, they have made it look easy. The client doesn’t really appreciate what everything that was going on; the preparation before the workshop, the facilitation techniques, the years of experience of capturing complex processes and making them intelligible on the fly.

Sure, we have developed a detailed set of implementation recommendations that include the cost benefit case, implementation plans and technical implementation guidelines. But only when you start implementing the processes for real will you start uncovering the issues that need to be resolved. That will require a deep knowledge of BPM and experience of implementing process-centric programs.

Related: What Will Process Excellence Look Like in 2025?

Learning to drive is a lovely analogy.

To date the client has been sitting in the back seat and we have driven down a relatively straight road. The drivers (my team) are so skilled that gear changes and avoiding the odd pothole have been imperceptible from the back of the car. The ride has seemed beautifully calm and easy.

So running a product training course will teach the client how the car works. And we have given them a destination and roadmap; the implementation recommendations. But it will not prepare them for the issues on the open road; other road users, pedestrians stepping out, the driving rain or the odd patch of ice, whilst trying to remember how to change gear. Dealing with those without crashing is built up over years of experience on the road, and the inevitable near misses.

The client is considering asking us to spend a little time supporting them as they get going. That is analogous to sitting in the passenger seat whilst they learn to drive. As any driving instructor or parent of teenage children will tell you is a very scary experience: fighting the urge to grab the wheel. Some of you may remember the fantastic Bob Newhart sketch, “The Driving Instructor”.

Implementing a process-driven approach, changing engrained working approaches and getting engagement across hundreds of construction projects spread around the world makes learning to drive look like “Driving with Miss Daisy”.

Why go it alone?

So why does the client want to do it themselves? It is not because they are unhappy with our work, as they have told us several times how impressed they are with my team. They run huge, complex construction projects so perhaps they believe, having watched us that they understand what to do.

Or maybe it is the normal issue: cost. The value of external BPM consultancy is always questioned, particularly in construction firms who are notoriously tight-fisted. They probably think we are expensive, but we are not nearly as expensive as ignorance. And the cost of ignorance is not “getting it wrong”, but it is about “not getting it right”. We have conservatively identified $4m of savings per project which means $150k per day for the company if it was rolled out to just the major construction projects around the world. And they are running hundreds of these projects around the world concurrently. Implementing successfully in all those projects will have a material affect on the company bottom line.

Were we too good?

We have spent 12 weeks understanding their project processes.  I have run some large projects in my time, but that doesn’t mean I could do what they do after just 12 weeks. So why would they think that they could do what we can do?  Perhaps that is why BPM projects fail. It doesn’t look that hard. But they didn’t see “what was going on BEHIND what was going on”.   The preparation before workshops, the mapping to reconcile inputs and outputs and rationalize resource types after the workshops. And the experience built up form facilitating hundreds of workshops.

I hope it ends well as the client has been the best we have worked for in the last 15 years; 0pen minded, engaged and super organized. For their long term profitability, growth and success, they desperately need this to work. And they know it.

View Ian's Contributor Profile

Culture Transformation in Operational Excellence

BPM Case Study

The Business Transformation & Operational Excellence Industry Awards

The Largest Leadership-Level Business Transformation & Operational Excellence Event



Proqis Digital Virtual Conference Series

View our schedule of industry leading free to attend virtual conferences. Each a premier gathering of industry thought leaders and experts sharing key solutions to current challenges.

Download the most comprehensive OpEx Resport in the Industry

The Business Transformation & Operational Excellence Industry Awards Video Presentation

Proqis Events Schedule

Proqis Digital

Welcome to BTOES Insights, the content portal for Business Transformation & Operational Excellence opinions, reports & news.
Access all 75 Award Finalist Entires
Subscribe to Business Transformation & Operational Excellence Insights Now
ATTENDEE - Proqis Digital Event Graphics-2
ATTENDEE - Proqis Digital Event Graphics (2)-1
ATTENDEE - Proqis Digital Event Graphics (1)-1

Featured Content

  • Best Achievement of Operational Excellence in Technology & Communications: IBM
  • Best Achievement of Operational Excellence in Oil & Gas, Power & Utilities: Black & Veatch
  • Best Achievement in Cultural Transformation to deliver a high performing Operational Excellence culture: NextEra Energy
Operational Excellence Frameworks and Learning Resources, Customer Experience, Digital Transformation and more introductions
  • Intelligent BPM Systems: Impact & Opportunity
  • Surviving_the_IT_Talent_deficit.png
  • Six Sigma's Best Kept Secret: Motorola & The Malcolm Baldrige Awards
  • The Value-Switch for Digitalization Initiatives: Business Process Management
  • Process of Process Management: Strategy Execution in a Digital World

Popular Tags

Speaker Presentation Operational Excellence Business Transformation Business Improvement Insights Article Continuous Improvement Process Management Business Excellence process excellence Process Optimization Process Improvement Award Finalist Case Study Digital Transformation Leadership Change Management Lean Enterprise Excellence Premium Organizational Excellence Lean Enterprise Lean Six Sigma Execution Excellence Capability Excellence Enterprise Architecture New Technologies Changing & Improving Company Culture Agile end-to-end Business Transformation Execution & Sustaining OpEx Projects Culture Transformation Leadership Understanding & Buy-In Lack of/Need for Resources Adapting to Business Trends Changing Customer Demands Failure to Innovate Integrating CI Methodologies Lack of/Need for Skilled Workers Lack of/Need for Support from Employees Maintaining key Priorities Relationships Between Departments BTOES18 RPA & Intelligent Automation Live Process Mining BTOES From Home Cultural Transformation Financial Services Customer Experience Excellence Process Automation Technology Healthcare iBPM Healthcare and Medical Devices Webinar Culture Customer Experience Innovation BTOES Video Presentations Exclusive BTOES HEALTH Strategy Execution Business Challenges Digital Process Automation Report Industry Digital Workplace Transformation Manufacturing Supply Chain Planning Robotic Process Automation (RPA) BPM Automation IT Infrastructure & Cloud Strategies Artificial Intelligence Business Process Management innovation execution AI Lean Manufacturing Oil & Gas Robotic Process Automation IT value creation Agility Business Speaker Article Systems Engineering RPAs Insurance Process Design Digital Speaker's Interview data management Intelligent Automation digital operations Six Sigma Awards thought leaders BTOES Presentation Slides Transformation Cloud Machine Learning Data Analytics Digital Transformation Workplace Banking and Capital Markets Data Finance Professional Services Education IT Infrastructure IT Infrastructure & Cloud Strategies Live Blockchain Interview Solving Cash Flow with AI BTOES White Paper investment banking Analytics Insight BTOES19 Consumer Products & Retail Enterprise Agile Planning Government Operational Excellence Model Project Management Algorithm Automotive and Transportation Banking Business Environment Digital Bank Enterprise architecture as an enabler Hybrid Work Model Primary Measure of succes Relationship Management Sales business expansion revenue growth Adobe Sign Agile Transformation CoE Delivery solution E-Signatures Electricity Global Technology HealthcareTechnologies Innovation in Healthcare Reduce your RPA TCO Transportation Accounts Receivable (AR) Big Data Technology CORE Cloud Technology Cognitive learning Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) Logistics Services Operational Excellence Example Risk Management business process automation transformation journey Covid-19 Data Entry Digital Experience Digital Network Digital Network Assistant (DNA) Digitization Drinks Effective Change Leaders HR Internet Media NPS Net Promoter Score Program Management Portal (PgMP) Sustainability TechXLive The Document is Dead The New Era of Automation Automated Money Movement Banking & Financial Services Biopharmaceutical Blue Room Effect Building Your Future Workforce in Insurance Business Process Governance Capital Market Creative Passion Digital Transformation Workplace Live Digital Workforce Digitalization ERP Transformation Finance Global Operations (FGO) Financial Services Software Frameworks Hoshin Planning Human Capital Lean Culture Natural Gas Infrastructure Natural Language Processing Organizational Change Pharmaceutical Pharmaceuticals & Life Sciences Project manager Supply Chain Management Sustainable Growth The Fully Automated Contact Center Transformation Initiatives Workplace Analytics eForms eSignatures 3D Thinking BEAM BFARM BTOES17 Big Data Processing Business Analytics Business Growth Centralized Performance Monitoring System Communication Creativity Digital Technologies Digital Technology Educational Psychologist Energy Management Health Insurance Health Maintenance Organizations Hospitality & Construction Human Centered Design Integrated Decision Approach Integrated Decision Making Intelligent Document Processing Kaizen Medicare Moodset for Excellence Natural Language Processing (NLP) Offering Managers Oil and Gas Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Pharmaceuticals and Life Sciences Photographing Price and Routing Tracking (PART) Process Design Document (PDD) Product Identifier Descriptions (PIDs) Python Quote to Cash (Q2C) Resilience SAP Sales Quota Team Work Telecommunications Text Mining Visually Displayed Work Culture master text analytics virtual resource management