Is it possible for process documentation to generate ROI?
Jacqi Levy 270003E0DF JALEVY@US.IBM.COM | | Tags:  saas blueworks_live process_modeling process_improvement bpm cloud roi process_documentation
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Contributed by Brian Safron
There are two primary sets of activities that take place in the business process world. First is process modeling. There are a number of terms commonly used to describe modeling, including process mapping, process design, process documentation, and process discovery.
The second major focus area is process automation (to keep things simple we’ll include monitoring with automation), also called process execution, or simply… running your processes.
But as everybody in the process world knows, there’s another very important concept that cuts across both of these activities – process improvement. Many in the industry say that to achieve ROI you need to perform both activities - modeling and automation. Without question that is the ultimate goal for a process-driven organization. But most companies will model more processes than they automate, since modeling a process requires less investment than automating it. So the question is, can organizations achieve ROI from merely modeling their processes?
Let's look at the example of Elevations Credit Union based in Boulder, Colorado. Carla Wolfe is the process maven (my term, not hers!) at the credit union and has been leading a significant process improvement effort for the company. I recently attended a presentation Carla gave at the Impact conference in Las Vegas. She refused to wear a microphone or stand on the stage, even though the room was large and there were many people in attendance. Carla exuded energy and demonstrated palpable passion for what it takes to accomplish real process improvement. The audience was glued to her every word, as she preached the gospel of process improvement with a fervor typically not found in what is sometimes accused of being a boring and passionless discipline.
Carla took the audience through the ongoing story of Elevations’ process journey. She recounted how the company’s CEO set a goal for the credit union to win the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, and how as a preliminary step they have already won the Rocky Mountain Performance Excellence Award. She described how they began the effort with a small, dedicated team that didn't have experience in process improvement, and how they started using IBM Blueworks Live, a cloud-based process improvement tool, that became the "single source of truth" for all their process-related activities.
What really hit home was when Carla started talking about the results that Elevations Credit Union had achieved. She put up the graphic below to illustrate the specific ROI the credit union had generated through its process improvement effort.
The first thing that struck me was the sheer magnitude of the ROI directly attributable to process improvement:
Those are significant results, but the other thing that struck me was the breadth of business improvement, both quantitative and qualitative.
When you take into account both the breadth and depth of the process improvement, and the combination of quantitative and qualitative ROI, the results are pretty impressive. It’s no wonder Elevations won the Rocky Mountain Performance Excellence Award.
When Carla talked about the goal of winning the Malcolm Baldrige Award she called it a BHAG (pronounced bee-hag). That stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal. When she talked about it what it takes to compete, she focused on three key points:
“I have a special forces of 21 facilitators who cover every category on the process map”
“Helped us teach the organization where we were trying to go”
“I felt like Blueworks Live was with us standing on the podium when we got our award because I don’t know how we would have done it otherwise”
So going back to the original question: Can organizations achieve ROI from modeling their processes? Carla Wolfe and Elevations Credit Union say yes… but you may just need the right people, the right process, and the right technology.
To learn more about how collaborative process modeling in the cloud can help you achieve ROI,