Are We There Yet? How to Tackle BPM Project Jitters?

There is a famous scene from the movie "Shrek 2" where the three lead characters -- Shrek, Princess Fiona and the adorable Donkey are on a trip and the donkey keeps asking the same question to Shrek and Fiona TIME AND AGAIN -- "Are we there yet?” ,”Are we there yet?”.

The donkey KNOWS that they are going to reach the destination soon but it still has doubts in its mind about when are they going to reach their destination. It feels vulnerable, confused and scared... all at the same time!

Watching the movie, I tried correlating this dialogue with what we keep hearing at a client’s place. When do clients feel vulnerable, confused and scared... all at the same time? When do they have their -- Let’s call it, "Are we there yet?" moments?

Confused? Okay, let me draw you a picture.

Let’s take the case of an organisation that’s undergoing an enterprise-wide business transformation. The organisation has handed over the transformation project to its service delivery partner/vendor to deliver this transformation.

The vendor’s team primarily consists of two entities – the BPM team (who will study the current process landscape and design the As Is and To Be process maps) and the solutioning team (who will deliver the end solution). The end solution can be a new ERP, a Shared Service Model or a new software package.

Okay, now that we have set the context – let’s jump into the real world scenario.

Day 1

The BPM consultants land at client site and start their workshops, drafting process maps and suggesting future roadmaps to the client.

Month 2

Process Maps are signed off and handed over to the solutioning team who start working on the solution as per the information captured in the process maps and the requirement documents.

Go LIVE date

Tic Toc.... Tic Toc....Go Live Date is here. And suddenly, the client starts having jitters at the last mile. After doing all the leg work, ensuring that the solution is in sync with the requirements captured in the process maps, all of a sudden, the vendor hears the dreaded question from the client--"Are we there yet?”

The vendor tries to calm down the client and says, "Yes, we are. There's nothing to worry about. We are here to handhold you for the initial teething period and then you will be good to go!”

But somehow, I have experienced (and this is just my personal experience from a recent client engagement) that the client suddenly starts losing confidence just before the GO LIVE. There is this fear of the unknown, the fear of "something is missing!" -- A sort of mental obstacle that creeps in.

Why does this happen? Until now, both the parties (client and solution provider) were on the same page. Both were quite comfortable in moving the “theoretical” process maps to the “real world”, day to day operations. What went wrong all of a sudden? Why does this vulnerability creep in?

Myopic thinking

This is where I think most projects go wrong. Generally, an implementation partner deploys different teams (BPM, Solutioning, Infra, Change Management etc.) to deliver the solution but all these teams get into a typical myopic mindset, where each team focuses on just their OWN deliverables.

Each team delivers their specific bits and pieces nicely. But when the time comes to stich in all these deliverables into one BIG PICTURE, in terms of filling up the gaps and delivering the solution in its entirety -- the picture gets hazy.

That's precisely where the clients start sensing the discomfort when they want to see the BIG PICTURE in the form of an overall solution. When they dig down a little deep, they find gaps in the solution that causes the loss of confidence in going for the GO LIVE. As the saying goes – “The devil lies in the detail”!

Right, so now that we know the cause of the problem, let's just ponder about the solution too.

Integration Specialist

In my view, the major reason why we see gaps between the Process maps and future solution is due to the absence of a key resource -- an Integration Specialist. An integration specialist should be the one CONSTANT in the life of a project who should be in the thick of things right from Day1 to the very end right till GO LIVE.

The Integration specialist knows the overall picture of the project. S/he possesses strong business acumen and also has a good technical know-how of designing solutions. S/he also acts as a governance body, whose main task is to avoid any solution gaps and to ensure the “link” between the BPM process maps and the future solution is maintained throughout.

The integration specialist safeguards both the parties – the client as well as the implementation partner. To cut a long story short – More often than not, an integration specialist ensures that the client doesn’t get carried away with its “Are we there yet” moments!