Posted by: Adam Deane | 17/03/2010

BPM: Choosing the first process to implement

One of the most important priorities for an organisation embarking on a new BPM initiative – is to identify the first process to implement.

A positive impact from the newly implemented process, showing added value and getting positive feedback from the business users will propel the BPM initiative forwards, bringing in more business buy-in and creating a real impact on the organisation.
If a wrong process is selected – the positive impact from the newly implemented process won’t be felt. Disappointment, backlash, losing the business buy-in – will cause the whole BPM initiative to stall (or even binned)

The key principles for deciding on the first process for implementation are:

  • High business impact with low risk to the business
  • Well defined process
  • Low complexity process

Initially, it would be a good idea to look for processes in which the tasks are poorly defined and the effect on the business is expected to be high.
Processes that involve approvals are usually good candidates, as they often entail workarounds and inefficiencies. Similarly, financial processes tend to have greater impact than non-financial ones: for example, a “New employee” HR workflow is nice-to-have, but a credit approval scenario is more likely to save the company some real money.
Improving a poorly laid-out process shows more added value than improving an existing process that is already carefully managed and monitored.
Other good starting points are processes in which management has insufficient visibility or traceability and where seemingly minor errors may have a serious negative effect on profitability or sales.
Avoid complex inter-departmental scenarios for the first process. These types of processes normally involve too many opportunities for political infighting, delays and increased project risk.
Avoid sophisticated end-to-end processes and try to focus on an effective solution.


  1. I basically agree: the approval processes are the Hello World! examples for BPM (and are the most used in teaching, in fact): easy to understand, design and demonstrate.. and can quickly gather consensus among the stakeholders.

    Not so sure about tasks that are poorly defined: understanding can be different between the people (also within the customer enterprise)and could lead to delays and fights between the roles (our experience). How to deal with this?

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