It started off with a small workflow that I was requested to build for a customer.
I arrived at 9:00. Big building, lots of employees running around, phones ringing, people shouting, complete chaos… the normal daily life in a big organisation.
I met the project manager. Young guy, looked a bit scared.
“I need you to build a quick proof-of-concept to show to the management board today at 4:00″ he said to me.”
“Ok”, I replied, “that doesn’t leave much time. Let’s get started, where is the workflow design?”
“Sorry” he said, “I couldn’t find anyone to help me with the design. I was hoping you could do it for me.”
“No process designers??” I gasped. “Surely you’re joking. How can you not have a process designer in an organisation like this?”
That’s the way we work in this organisation, he said with an embarrassed smile. Lots of red tape and internal politics.
“Mmmm” I said, “let’s see if I can help…”
First, I’ll need to talk to the IT manager to see if he can help me set up a server. Can you organise a quick meeting with him? I asked.
Sure, sure. I’ll tell him now, stuttered the project manager as he picked up the phone.
.. John?.. Hi, listen.. In a couple of minutes a gentleman will be over to speak to you.. name is Adam… help him with anything he needs.. it’s for the board meeting.. thanks..
I popped over to see John, the IT manager.
“Look John”, I tried to reason with him. “I can’t develop if I don’t have an environment. If you can’t help me with an environment – tell me now and I’ll do a powerpoint instead. I’m sure the board will understand…”
“Bollocks they’ll understand” said John.
“Look here. They’ve been looking for a reason to push me out, but I ain’t going without a fight!”
I’ve got a spare server. I’ll get the system administrator to help you set it up. I’ve got two additional developers free that can help you with any coding you need, and I might have another resource to help you with the database problems. Will that be enough?”
Excellent. I said. Do you have anyone the can do QA?
I’ll find someone, but I’ll need you to OK the resources with the department manager.
Not a problem, I said. I’m on the way to him now.
The department manager sent me to the programme manager.
The programme manager sent me to the finance manager.
The finance manager sent me to the CFO.
I caught the CFO as he was leaving his room.
“Sorry to disturb”, I said, “but I need your approval for IT resources and budget”.
He looked a bit startled. “Sorry, I don’t know what you are talking about”.
“It’s for the BPM programme”, I said. “I talked to the IT manager. He’s got the people ready. He just needs your ok”.
He scratched his forehead. “I might be mistaken, but as I recall I only approved a budget for a simple workflow. Anyway, resources, you’ll have to talk with George, the CIO”.
I was starting to lose my patience. I marched over to the CIO’s office.
Look George, I said. I having problems with your guys. The IT manager can’t start without getting the ok from the CFO.
The CFO says he has only approved a simple…
George cut my sentence short. “Excuse me! With all due respect to the CFO, he doesn’t get to decide on resources. He does finance, and even that he manages to screw up. I approve resources.”
He was red in the face. “Wait here for a sec” he said and stormed off in the direction of the CFO’s office
While waiting for the CIO to return, I met Kallie, the CEO’s secretary as I was making myself a cup of tea in the corner kitchen.
In the background we could hear the CIO and CFO yelling at each other. I told her about the CIO/CFO conflict. She smiled. “Company politics” she explained. It’s the reason nothing gets done around here.
The CIO strode back red faced. Now listen to me he said. You remind the IT manager that I’m his manager, not the CFO.
Go and tell him to join us now in the round meeting room, and we’ll sort this stuff out, he said as steam came out of his ears.
The meeting with the CIO went quite well. I was allocated an additional 10 programmers, 4 business analysts and 3 system administrators. It was decided that I’d be allocated a separate budget to enable them to bypass the CFO.
After the briefing with the business analysts, the Chief Enterprise Architect popped in and asked if could have a few words with me.
He was extremely upset that no one had counted him in. “I’ve been building the “Centre of Excellence” for the last 6 months he told me. I got a team of 20 managers, but no one ever listens to what we say.”
We agreed to combine teams. He’ll be in charge of making the policies, I’ll square it with management.
Kallie asked me to pop into the CEO’s office as he wanted a few words with me about the CIO-CFO quarrel.
“Look” I said. The amount of bureaucracy and internal politics that I need to deal with is staggering. I got dozens of people to manage, the CIO and CFO are ready to kill each other, and I can’t find anyone to approve the programme for the management board at 4:00.
What programme? he asked. I thought we were doing just a quick workflow demo.
I gave him a brief overview on BPM. Cost cutting, efficiency, more work done. He bought into it right away. “The new Change Management Programme” he called it.
The problem is that programmes like this never succeed, he said.
People don’t like change.
We agreed that I would have one-on-one meetings with all of the management team to propose the changes. I was given decision autonomy.
Let’s see if you can make it work…
The one-on-one meetings went very well, I think…
I offered the CIO a change of role to become the company’s new CFO.
“The challenge to prove how things could be done better.”
We agreed on doubling the annual spending budget as long as he could prove that there would be real savings in the years to come.
The next meetings went also smoothly.
The CFO was offered a new role, COO, which would include an independent budget and responsibility over the HR department and resources.
The Finance manager was offered a promotion – to be the new CFO.
The HR manager was offered the finance manager’s job.
Kallie was offered the new HR director role.
The rest of the afternoon I sat with most of the middle management and appointed quite a lot of VPs.
The management board meeting at 4:00 went quite well, I explained to the company’s board of directors the way I believe BPM can help them. The meeting took only 30 minutes and was followed by the board’s request to talk to the management team. I excused myself, and went to have another cup of tea.
At 5:00 I was asked to return to the boardroom, something about CEO resigning, I think I heard the words “management mutiny” mentioned.
I was asked by the board if I was willing to take over the role of company CEO. I told them that I could agree only if I could implement a full BPM programme for the organisation. They agreed.
The company is running nicely, good working spirit, lots of enthusiasm.
I had a meeting this morning with Kallie, our new HR director.
Things are going well”, she said. It’s the small things that bug me.
We’ve recruited 10% more employees in the past month: project managers, business analysts, finance accountants. Good people, highly skilled and motivated.
My only problem is that we can’t find anyone that can build us a simple workflow…