Ready to DT your BPM?

If you want to learn why you should DT your BPM (digitally transform your business process management), here is an article (among many) that answers the question, and that describes the benefits succinctly: ‘7 Step Framework for Digital Transformation In Business Process Management’ by Yugandhar Babu (

How would a process plant or facility, and its associated contractors, engineers and other stakeholders digitally transform (DT) their business processes? By all accounts many companies struggle mightily with this challenge. We’ll explain how you can fast track the path to a DT process in each of the 7 stages in Babu’s article. This approach leverages the mature DT abilities of an established solution vendor in this technical area. Working with such a vendor significantly improves your opportunity for quick wins, while reducing your risks and costs. An added advantage is that you use your in-house staff for knowledge and subject-matter expertise and system and BP analysis, thus avoiding costly consulting fees for these services.

Not only will your DT solution integrate with your legacy asset management tools (like ERP, CMMS and EAM), you can expect a better quality of actionable data to be available for analytics.

Note: Acronyms are defined at the end of the article. Trade names referenced here are the property of their respective owners and are used here for illustrative reasons only.

BPM is a collaboration between processes, applications and people. Digital Transformation in BPM refers to transforming business operations, services and models by embedding technical advances in the business . .

Site business processes that will quickly benefit from a DT makeover include Routine Maintenance Management; Capital Project Management; Turnaround and Outage Readiness Management; Turnaround Management; EPCM; Reliability-based Maintenance; Customer Relationship Management; Business Development; Enterprise Resource Planning; Supply Chain Management – pretty much any thing that requires your company to need to store its actionable data in an easily accessible and analyzable mode.

With enhanced technologies, organizations start rethinking their existing business models and will explore new and improved ways to do their business. However, digital transformation is not just introducing latest technology trends into an organization, but it is also about implementing cultural change . . .

The DT process, like all processes, travels through Stages or Phases. Here, the 7 significant Stages are: Imagine, Identify, Itemize, Invent, Inform, Implement, Improve. Yes, I did work to get all of these to be I-words – and I think that you will agree that they are useful in describing the 7 stages that we’ll review in a little more detail here.

Imagine – This is an initial review, where you look at existing business processes and grow an awareness of the technical shortcomings of each, in the context of what would be expected to be a norm in 2018: Our competitors are using mobile devices in the field for recording progress – why aren’t we? Why are we still using paper copies for each person in our 50-member team? Why are we attaching a file to each of the team, meaning that now that file is in multiple locations? Why are we limiting our entry to a single file? Are meetings focusing more on what was done rather than on what’s next? Do you have a nagging awareness that each action is taking longer, and requiring more people, than it should? Answers to each of these questions provide the brainstorming needed to justify to management the need to move to the next step – Identifying the processes that will benefit from the DT makeover. A logical deliverable for this stage is a Business Gaps List. Another is a Business Needs List. Each of these would be high-level and would address broadly needed improvements: like the need for electronic sign-off and approvals; notifications; centralized document management and availability. Avoid analyzing a specific business process until you get the green light to proceed to the Identify Stage.

Identify – Look at specific processes, like Supply Chain Management; Cost Tracking; Turnaround Readiness; Planning; Execution Management; Time Management. Decide on one or more to focus on. Plan on digital transformation of these processes as a pilot project, at a minimum. This step requires no external resources and depends on internal teams being honest about the current state of the process’s shortcomings on the company’s performance and bottom line. Jaded users are also evidence of poor processes – no one wants to do ‘mindless’ work – if it can be automated and digitalized, do it. Data re-entry into a new spreadsheet is an example of ‘mindless work’. It also causes errors to creep into the process. The deliverables of this stage include a ‘Technical Gap Analysis of the Turnaround Readiness Business Process’, etc. You are now ready to get management approval to move to the next stage, when you will detail out the specific improvements that the business process needs.

Itemize – We’ll analyze and dig deeper into the selected processes to determine the specific improvements that we’ll need in our digitally transformed solution. Each decision point needs to have an alert sent to a project team member with the right Role – preferably they were notified in advance so they are not surprised by a time-constrained request for immediate action. If a schedule milestone is running late, potentially delayed actions need to alert key team members in advance of the issue becoming critical – this can only be done if the business process is integrated with the business flow in the same system. Replace paper forms with electronic, mobile ones. Replace spreadsheet data maintenance to integrated data entry. Convert Word documents into Standard Document Management. Enable email communications using ‘social media’ type posts linked to your assets and equipment, similar to LinkedIn and Facebook handling of related data. Ensure that you plan open, yet role-limited, access for all stakeholders, including customers, partners and employees. Ensure that each person with a certain role is adequately trained to perform their duties. A key deliverable of this stage is a ‘Requirements for a Digitally Improved Process for Turnaround Readiness Management’ and similar documents, that provide a specification for the next stage, Invent, to use to build the solution or tweak and existing solution. Another deliverable is a ‘KPIs for the Turnaround Readiness Process’, that specifies KPIs that are to be used to measure the benefits of the DT solution and to help the future lessons learned analysts to analyze how well a process worked and to improve these processes as needed based on collected and analyzed data.

Invent – Assuming that you have rigorously followed processes thus far, you need to press on to get the results in front of users. Apps should be available quickly on mobile devices. This is the expectation level of users today. Your approach needs to be able to accommodate this rapid development approach. Using a Technology partner, like TeamWork Group, is a logical, and cost-effective way to not have to start from scratch. Use your in-house team of Business Analysts, SMEs and System Analysts to communicate with your technology provider to obtain results in days or weeks, rather than in months or years. Keeping the effort alive and fresh is a good way to never let it become unfocused and irrelevant. Use disciplined project management, in the DT solution itself, to manage the Invent or build process, as using the solution that is going to deliver your results in this way ensures that it is as responsive and viable as you expect it to be for your users. The deliverable for this stage is the completed, functional app, or group of apps defined in the Itemize stage.

Inform – Through most of these stages, it is a good idea to find easy ways, like a dashboard or a website, to communicate your progress in these stages. You will be surprised at the feedback that you can get from sources you had not expected to provide great insights. This brings the Social Media aspect of 2018’s technology landscape into your company’s business processes. Management and users will be surprised with the complete evolution of how business gets done, as each process is digitally transformed. Alert them about this and provide tools to help them engage and be part of the transformation. Organic transformation of the business process is effectively the best outcome, and judicious management of the transformation process helps teams to quickly get on board and help to also push the envelope as they discover newer, unconsidered ways to keep the process on an improvement trajectory. Use solution based training to validate knowledge and skills that lead to designation of SME status on users, and that incrementally opens additional access and functionality to users as they learn and grow in their roles.

Implement – Each functional business team should start using the digitally transformed process as quickly as possible to ensure that no valuable, and costly, time is wasted. Your technology partner’s maturity in error-free development of functional apps for your users is critical part of ensuring success of this stage. Don;t make the roll-out a huge deal. Instead, get used to seeing incremental updates each day, as often as they are ready to be deployed. This method of updates has been perfected in recent years by automated updates to mobile apps and even desktop operating systems, like Microsoft Windows and Google Chrome. This approach is yet another time and money saving outgrowth of the technologies that DT brings to your teams’ business solutions.

Improve – No process is perfect once it’s being used. Having a mindset that acknowledges that there always room for improvement helps you to support a team’s attention to continuous improvement. A DT process enables automatic, silent collection of lessons learned data. Analysis of this data can lead to a tweaking of the business rules to more closely mirror a desired business process. This tweaking should be a metadata reset and not involve any re-coding. This is yet another reason to maintain a great partnership with your mature DR solution vendor. Little time should be allowed to elapse between an identification of an issue and the implementation of a solution that addresses the lessons learned. Wasted time in this phase is money lost, so it is critical to stay closely engaged with your technology partner to ensure a quick turnaround on the Itemize, Invent, Inform, Implement and Improve stages, so the company runs smoothly.

Using TeamWork Group’s integrated solution, TWIST as your technology enabler, helps you to avoid getting stymied by in-house or contract development bottlenecks – the most common cause of failed development projects. Instead, this collaborative approach with your vendor leverages and engages your current staff. A low, monthly or annual, service-based cost for your DT solution provider helps you to navigate, relatively painlessly, to the new digitally transformed environment that makes your company a pacesetter in an extremely competitive environment. Your people win. Your teams wins. Your bottom line wins.

The BPM in this age of digital transformation not only deals with your internal processes, it also takes in to account the expectations of new gen customers. Driven by customers, fueled by IT and empowered by efficient processes, the digitally transformed BPM holds the power to take the business efficiency and customer experience to an enhanced level.

Acronyms used in this article:

  • BP – Business Process
  • BPM – Business Process Management
  • CMMS – Computerized Maintenance Management Systems
  • DT – Digitally Transform or Digital Transformation, also Digitize or Digitalize, based on different authors
  • EAM – Enterprise Asset Management
  • EPCM – Engineering, Procurement, Construction Management
  • ERP – Enterprise Resource Planning
  • SMAC – Social-Mobile-Analytics-Cloud, yes there is even an acronym for these!
  • SME – Subject-matter expert
  • TWIST – TeamWork Integrated Solutions Technology, an app-building tool set from TeamWork Group, that enables rapid deployment of integrated digitally aware solutions, using a built-in metadata framework to ensure error-free and predictable outcomes. Includes each of the SMAC technologies.

Let’s keep the dialog going – we’d love to hear your comments and input.