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.