Steve Towers, BP GroupSteve Towers, BP Group

Business process management (BPM) should be part of every organisation’s strategic plan, said Steve Towers, coach, mentor and consultant for the BP Group, in a keynote address at the ITWeb BPM Summit.

According to Towers, strategy means many things to many people. However, from a BPM context, it means creating a high-performance organisation.

“In BPM, strategy is the ability to connect the dots from the front line to the boardroom, and demonstrate how every single activity contributes to the strategy of the organisation.”

He also pointed out that BPM is about simultaneously reducing costs, growing revenue and improving customer service.

On improving customer service, Towers noted that customer needs have changed drastically, thanks to digitisation, which means everyone is connected intimately, all the time. “The customer experience is the process, and we have to get scientific about the customer experience.”

The customer should be at the centre of everything the organisation does, and organisations should work to identify factors that will not contribute to the overall success of the enterprise, he said. Towers urged organisations to go out of their way to be innovative in order to determine their customers’ needs.

Grant Field, group operations officer at FedGroup, spoke on the impact customers have on a company’s BPM.

Clients, competitors and employees are important drivers pushing organisations to focus on business process change, he said.

Field emphasised the importance of incorporating these drivers into a BPM strategy. “Business process management itself has been referred to as a holistic management process, aligning business processes to the wants and needs of clients.”

BPM is an important pillar in helping a business to provide the best products possible, said Field, and emulating industry standards is not enough. “If you are only looking at business best practices and industry norms, you’ll only be as good as best practices and industry norms. Use these as a benchmark, not goals: you have to have goals that are way better than the industry norm.”

According to Syed Ahmed Mohiuddin, founder, CEO and MD of BITS Consultancy Services, BPM should not only be driven by the business of an organisation, but also its architecture.

Business strategy is the common ground that ensures all people involved are working towards the same objectives, he noted.

Meanwhile, business architecture defines the structure of the enterprise in terms of its governance structures, business processes and business information, said Mohiuddin.

“Business architecture considers customers, finances and the ever-changing market to align strategic goals and objectives with decisions regarding products and services, partners and suppliers, organisational capabilities, and key initiatives.”

When aligning the business strategy and BPM, Mohiuddin urged organisations to focus on business from an “outsidein” perspective, using customer-centric process techniques.

Fleur Morris, global design authority lead for SABMiller, stressed the importance of standardised processes. According to Morris, SABMiller had processes in place but realised it had to come up with a better way to link tasks and functions in an end-to-end approach, so there would be a single thread linking all processes.

She said the planning process started off with asking exactly what the company needed. In this case, that was a single standardised process that could be used across many countries to bring uniformity into the brand’s global business processes.

SABMiller created a single, live repository, which is easily updateable and operates in real-time. “At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what work you are doing; companies need the right information at their disposal at all times in order to make informed decisions.”

Another important BPM approach to consider is that of an engineer, said , author and owner of consultancy James A Robertson and Associates.

“Engineers do not design bridges to stand up; they design bridges not to fall down,” said Robertson, urging organisations to ensure their BPM projects do not fail.

He indicated that 70% of IT investments fail totally; 19 out of 20 enterprise resource planning implementations do not deliver what was promised; 70% of BPM investments fail; and 90% of strategic plans fail.

Most business improvement initiatives fail to recognise this reality, and therefore fail to deliver on their potential, he said.


New technology presents unimaginable business opportunities, and it would be foolish for businesses not to integrate these innovations into their processes. This was the key outcome of a presentation by , associate director of Ovations. Leppan built his talk around some of the key BPM trends that were highlighted during ’s Impact Conference, in Las Vegas, in April. “Emerging technology requires a new class of business process system,” he said. “The next wave of engagement means businesses have to embrace things like cloud and mobile to fully connect with their customers, and BPM has a big part to play here.”

Craig Leppan, OvationsCraig Leppan, Ovations

For Leppan, business cannot afford to ignore mobile, social, cloud and big data. “Mobile must come first,” Leppan stressed, noting that mobile is a key means of engagement in SA.

In addition to changing technology, Norwin Lederer, senior manager of PricewaterhouseCooper, said the business world is changing – driving a move towards smarter, faster and more dynamic business processes. While Lederer noted that business must acknowledge there are traditional requirements to be met, he stressed that the world is moving on and more social processes need to be integrated into business. “The rise in social business and the developments that come with it are changing this space, bringing old-world processes and new-world trends together.”

According to Lederer, there are three pillars to dynamic business processes – improving efficiency, improving effectiveness, and becoming more agile. “You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You just need to make better use of successful processes that are already in place.” Scenario planner reiterated the need for dynamism, by stating South African organisations must be adaptable to the changing environments they operate in.

According to Sunter, scenario planning is not about predicting the future, but is rather about looking at current scenarios and how they may impact the future.

“Organisations must be adaptable, like a fox,” he said. “You need to look around and adapt to the changes in the environment.”

He said the chances of a real crisis in SA have risen dramatically, thanks to activities like strikes, especially in the mining and agricultural sectors. “Though we still give a 50% probability to South Africa staying in the ‘premier league’ of competitive nations, the assumption that South Africa will retain its premier status in Africa is distinctly dodgy, seeing how much our brand has declined in the last few months.”

Another BPM Summit speaker stressing the importance of looking ahead was Marie Wessels, senior ECM specialist at 3fifteen. She said when building a process flow, business must ensure the design allows for future updates and improvement.

“It’s guaranteed you will not cover all wants and needs the first time around, but only basic necessity,” she said. “You will need a second phase to expand functionality to cover other areas.”

This presents difficulties, she added.

“Most workflow engines do not allow redeployment without destroying current processes, unless you do it carefully, so you have to plan for extension – you cannot neglect the base principles of code.”

Planning for future changes in software can be tricky, she acknowledged, which is why a design that is intended to last will need to use mainstream parts of the software, rather than obscure parts of the framework, which are likely to change.