There are many ways to design and implement business processes in an organisation. All of them have one hard and cold truth in common: the business objectives are only achieved if the processes are really executed as intended. Many process implementations, however, stop short of going live. What are the success factors for real process execution and a good return on investment?

The following topics appear to be simple, and yet, organisations often ignore them.

Nothing is what it seems!
Leave the universe of slide shows and process tools! The reality is different – always and everywhere. Create practical measures for the transformation of concepts into reality right from the beginning. As easy as this seems to be, the “real reality” is often neglected.
IT and business processes
The implementation of an IT tool or system does not change any process by default. In fact, people often find creative ways to work around IT systems that do not match their needs. Never forget: People are smart enough to find efficient process execution paths to bypass unsuitable IT systems.
Process performance measurement and process execution
Even the most sophisticated process performance indicators show only a part of the process reality. Manual process steps – often numerous – are hard to measure. The way they are executed is hardly captured by automated systems. Idea: From time to time, ask your people “in the trenches” how they execute specific process steps. The answers are often surprising.
Effectiveness before efficiency
Real process efficiency cannot be improved unless the effectiveness of processes is ensured. Efficiency-raising measures for non-executed processes can be disastrous for business operations. Would you push the accelerator of a car lacking wheels and then wonder why it did not move forward?
Idea: First check if process execution is effective. Then increase the efficiency.
Incentives and processes
Reward systems are always stronger than process management practices! If process targets conflict with personal incentives, every individual in the organisation will still act according to the latter. The challenge is even double if the responsibilities for reward systems and for process management are in different silos: HR and operations management.Idea: Always ensure that the reward system is aligned with process goals.
No process execution is there for eternity. It might deteriorate with the change of people, systems, tools, or organisational structure. It is thus essential to create a governance model for continuous process execution and process fidelity. This governance model should include structured interviews with people working in the process – and not only with managers and department heads.
Process fidelity can be managed!
With the right governance model and continuous reality checks, process compliance can be ensured in each organisation. An effective approach must be independent from any IT system and reach out to the frontline people in respective organisational and geographical units. And more: it should be structured, systematic, and continuous – an efficient business process itself.

Volkmar Voelzke – Leader and management consultant, transforming strategies into reality. Volkmar has more than 20 years of professional experience as business process principal, senior business analyst, controller, …
Business process modelling