How to build a BPM capability in your organisation

Raymond Danton, director, applications services at Deloitte Australia.

Business Process Management (BPM) products have been around for many years, but in recent times, they have become more sophisticated and there's been a marked increase in uptake by corporates and government departments.

Two years ago, Deloitte in Australia invested in the Appian BPM software suite after examining seven products. Here's a summary of the steps we took to successfully deploy this application suite.

We initially established a BPM Centre of Excellence (CoE) using best practices provided by the vendor and some of its existing customers.

Having never used sophisticated enterprise workflow software, we wanted to build a sustainable, flexible operating model to help us review and prioritise development requests, and then deliver them using these best practices.

We took the time to meet with another organisation that had been using the software for more than five years, listening carefully to its advice and guidance.

We also started searching for people with experience with Appian. I firmly believe that to successfully implement new technology into your organisation, one of the key ingredients to put into the mix is experienced people.

Even if you use a vendor to assist with the implementation, there is no substitute for a specialist or architect who has been through the process before — someone who has learned what works and what doesn't.

As demand for and adoption of new platforms increases, so does the likelihood that some kind of technology sprawl occurs. Before long, your "perfectly" implemented system starts to grow in ways you would prefer it didn't.

For example, your organisation may not be adhering to code re-use or taxonomy standards, which increases support costs and makes future upgrades more painful and costly.

This is where a good architect (with management support) earns his or her keep and can ensure less experienced staff consistently deliver quality deliverables in line with the standards, processes and architectures that are important to your business.

The early stages of development
Once our initial team was in place, our methodology agreed, and our governance and operations models were up and running, we began building our first processes in Appian.

It soon became apparent that business demand was exceeding our ability to deliver. A major project was kicking off with complex workflow requirements and application integration was required to both internal applications and external sources such as Dunn & Bradstreet. Needless to say, the project absorbed our most experienced people, meaning the quick wins we'd hoped to achieve didn't materialise.

Other BPM development projects we were running also had significant workflow requirements and required deep integration with other systems and subsequent reporting needs emerged.

When we looked at the options to grow our capability, we realised that we could use Deloitte's investment in Hyderabad, India.

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