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After a well deserved blog break of 1 week, at least I tend to think it’s well deserved, it’s now time to put down the fountain pen and pick up the keyboard to start a new series of four blogs this month around the well-beaten topic of Business Transformation. And in all honesty, the reason why I chose this topic is the fact that it is well-beaten but at the same time also is still plagued with lots of ambiguous and unclear jargon and intentions.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in. A commonly used definition of business transformation is this: the process of fundamentally changing the systems, processes, people and technology across a whole business or business unit. As such, a business transformation project is likely to include any number of change management projects, each focused on an individual process, system, technology, team or department.

What can we learn from this generic definition? The first thing that really jumps out for me is that it involves more than one type of organizational resources, it involves systems, processes, people and technologies and as a consequence they should be considered as a whole and not just as parts. In my opinion it is simply impossible to transform only one of them and still expect to have no effect on the others. To me, that is just overly naïve. Just think about it: a business process brings together actors (a fancy word for people or sometimes for a RPA bot), applications (systems) and data (or information). A manufacturing process similarly brings together raw materials, production technology, MES systems and Operators. Change one and you can make a reasonable and safe assumption that one or more of the others will be affected too. An organization, after all, is a very complex and opaque web of interdependencies.

Having said that, now let’s first go after that hideous and very popular term called: Digital Transformation and I would like to argue that this is always a part of a larger business transformation. Nevertheless, the digital transformation is often positioned and executed in isolation and being supported by specialized tooling that also believes that a digital transformation project can be done as stand-alone with the organization. Only later to discover that some of the other resources (for instance: people) have not been taking into account sufficiently and, given human nature, will start to rebel. The next you know, you need to explain to the executive board why this digital transformation, like many others, failed. Now, don’t get me wrong here, business transformation programs do not automatically have a higher success rate, but that is for different reasons, I believe.

Let’s bring this a little bit closer to home, shall we? After all, this blog is all about BPM and the question what BPM can do to support business transformation is one I often discuss with our customers and I will come back to this in my later blogs this month. I believe that there are three major steps any organization need to take if they want to maximize their likelihood of success with business transformation, supported by BPM:

  1.  It starts at the very top
  2. You need to align the planets
  3. You need to build the solar system

Before you start wondering whether this is a BPM blog or an astronomy blog, let me clear that up for you. The very top means that the managing board needs to actively and pro-actively sponsor and oversee every business transformation program as these programs are much too complex to delegate to lower levels in the organization. Secondly, aligning the planets means that organization that go through business transformation should always pay special attention to ensure that the alignment between strategy, operating model, processes and all other organizational resources is guaranteed (assuming that this alignment is already there, and if not, then hopefully this transformation will result in said alignment). Thirdly and finally, building the solar system refers to having a single transformation support platform that not only supports the ongoing transformation, but also the continuous management afterwards. In other words, having a BPM platform that enables you, as an organization, to continuously align all those pieces that are connecting to each other in the first place. 

In the coming three weeks, I’ll go deeper into each of them and I hope you will stay with me until that time.

Ciao, Caspar

Tags: ARIS 10 Business Process Management