BPM has to become customer-centric

White paper: How BPM has to reinvent itself

If Business Process Management (BPM) wants to guide organisations through current and future turbulent times, it first has to reinvent itself. This is the bold statement in the recent white paper “Re-positioning Business Process Management”. Comments from Professor Stijn Viaene and feedback from the field by Eddy Helsen, Managing Director at ViCre, our Prime Foundation Partner, which jointly conducted the research for the paper.

Change as a way of life

The paper, initiated by our Centre for Excellence in Business Transformation, kicks off by stressing the need for organisations to embrace change as a way of life. Stijn Viaene: “In terms of BPM, this means that organisations need to develop a different set of organisational capabilities that allow them to be more connected, both internally and externally, to detect disruptive trends, to take quick decisions, to be customer-centric and to have committed leaders. These so-called ‘business transformation capabilities’ can lead to systematic, repeatable transformation. But if the environment around BPM practitioners is changing, BPM has to make a case for itself by contributing to relevant and appealing customer experiences.”

That sounds logical. But how can it be achieved?

Stijn Viaene: “BPM has to look at other domains – as it always has done before – to complement its traditional techniques. One such helpful domain is Service Design Thinking (SDT), which is more opportunity-based, emotional and creative. ‘Experience is value’, especially in the digital environment. BPM needs to step up to this challenge. Although ‘customer-driven’ has always been at the heart of the discipline, many of the traditional lenses, tools and methods need to be fine-tuned or extended to accommodate customer-centricity in a digital environment. I’m referring to working with personas, customer journeys, wire-framing, using online mock-ups, minimum viable products, etc. Also, more and more we’re going to need a big data perspective to be added to the mix.”

How should this be supported within the organisation?

Stijn Viaene: “Over the years BPM has matured and encountered other enabling functions, such as strategists, enterprise architects and innovation managers. Increasingly today, we see these functions come together in Business Transformation Groups or Communities. But to be valuable in the age of the customer, they really have to team up in order to become a powerhouse for fast change.”

Mr Helsen, based on your years of experience at the helm of ViCre, a company in Business Transformation services and solutions, what will be the biggest challenges for organisations that want to engage in this “customer-centric” business transformation?

Eddy Helsen: “The biggest challenge when embarking on a transformation process – customer-centric or otherwise – is to accept that transformation as such is never a project with a start and end date, but a continuum that has to be mastered at all times. In order to do so, you need a master plan, managed by a business transformation team and sponsored by the leadership team.
“The vision of the company will give direction to this master plan. Strategic teams – or Business Transformation Communities – will create processes and knowledge to ensure that the vision is reflected in day-to-day work. Last but not least, the sponsor will guarantee progress by giving the BTM team progress responsibility, thus driving further improvement in the next iteration.
“By following the master plan, you will build a learning organisation, leading to continuous improvement and disruptive innovation by serendipity. Embracing the iterative nature of business transformation is the key to its success.”

How do organisations get started with such a transformation process?

Eddy Helsen: “First of all, you need a leader with a vision, and a team – internal or external – with transformation capabilities. The role of internal BT Offices or external BT consultants such as ViCre is that of a catalyst. They have to create awareness of and commitment to the need for customer centricity and facilitate the BT process by providing the right methods, tools and techniques. ViCre builds teams and coaches talented people on the necessary transformation capabilities to make sure our customers have ample resources to maintain the right pace throughout the process.

“Turning specifically to the ‘customer centric’ part of the question, we believe that customer centricity is driven by value reception. Customers, internal or external, should experience that what is delivered to them is an answer to their needs. This is how customer centricity directly links to connectedness: you can only respond to needs consistently if you are connected, if you know what your customer values.

“In conclusion, I would like to add that multiple stakeholders benefit from a customer-centric and value-driven approach. A healthy balance between value reception by the external customer, the shareholders and human resources ensures continuity.”

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