Protect & Preserve Your Intellectual Capital with Business Process Management (BPM)

Yesterday afternoon, I sat with a client who wants new business processes reflected in functional and technical requirements for a new information system. Of course, he has no idea what the current state of his business process actually looks like today. “It’s invisible” he told me. I mentioned that he may want to address the visibility of his current state – particularly if he has any concern that any of his subject matter experts (SMEs) might jump ship. He looked at me a bit puzzled and then lit up saying: “My God! You’re right. If any one of my department heads were to leave right now, I’d be lost. I have no idea how they do things or why they do them a particular way.”

When you document business processes, business rules, decisions, performance indicators and tie things together carefully, you’re protecting a very important asset – your intellectual capital.

Avoiding Brain Drain

For a decade, I had a team of directors reporting to me and each represented a discrete functional area. Prior to my baptism in BPM, I was the one laying in bed at night anxiously wondering what I would do if I lost one of those directors. In previous years, I had lost people to competitors, pregnancy and other family opportunities like cross-country moves and promotions. If you’ve ever been in that situation, you know you’re losing wisdom.

My first attempts at documenting work and procedures in simple swim-lane diagrams convinced me that I had answered my own unanswered question: how to preserve that wisdom so my business could continue. This was my business continuity plan. This was my knowledge management plan. All of it came together under the banner of BPM.

Preserve the Core

If your people are your greatest asset, you need to make damn sure you’re protecting that asset. Protect your people and preserve what they know with BPM. In the process, you will be prepared if something awful happens to them and you will, in fact, be launching your knowledge management initiative.

That’s the beauty of BPM if you can keep it accessible to people. It’s about efficiency, quality improvement, innovation, compliance, intellectual capital and knowledge management (and so much more). Keep it simple and spread the good word.

Any horror stories or examples you’d like to share? Comment below.

Thanks for listening.



3 responses to “Protect & Preserve Your Intellectual Capital with Business Process Management (BPM)

  1. This is a great post that ties together the concepts of intellectual capital, information technology and business process management. Business processes are the “production line” of today’s knowledge business. Without business process, everything is ad hoc.

  2. Patrick Joseph Gauthier

    Thanks for your feedback, Mary. I am a firm believer that there are a whole host of intangibles that form some of the greatest assets a company can claim for itself. Between the ingenuity and innovation potential of its people to the customer relationships and reputation (brand) they have, there is a real need to capture that value somehow and somewhere. In this case, capturing the core processes assures the company that at least some of their value won’t be lost merely by accident. I especially like the image of business process as production line in an era of information and knowledge work.

    All the best.


  3. Pingback: The link between IC and BPM | IC Knowledge Center

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