A lack of staff resources and inconsistency in internal practices are limiting the benefits Australian organisations are gaining from business process management initiatives, according to new research.
The research, commissioned by Promapp and polling 620 organisations across Australia, New Zealand and the United States, shows 68% of Australian survey respondents felt low staff numbers were a top barrier to process improvement. The research also found the majority of organisations don’t have fundamental process governance roles – and 40% do not have ‘process owners’.
Despite these shortfalls, both public and private-sector organisations which invest in process management are seeing benefits from their investments, with 88% of public sector respondents saying BPM has delivered some positive impact on their performance, and 84% of the private sector confirming it had.
Key positive impacts included improved consistency and standardisation, better alignment between teams, improved productivity and the easier induction of new staff.
Ivan Seselj, Promapp chief executive, says the results are encouraging, but show there is still plenty of work to be done.
“While BPM is achieving key benefits in both the public and private sectors, there are clearly ways in which these could be extended even further,” Seselj says.
The majority of organisations across the three countries polled have, however, already bought into the concept of business process management, with two thirds already having BPM systems in place.
Within both the public and private sectors, 83% of respondents believe BPM plays an important or very important role in helping them meet organisational goals.
Top priority for the public sector was increasing satisfaction (62%), followed by making better use of physical and financial resources (50%) and improving quality (40%).
Seselj says it’s clear BPM strategies being adopted by organisations are working.
“In fact, there is a strong correlation between a focus on BPM and profit growth over the last three years,” he says.
"Interestingly, the research found that the benefits achieved from BPM by public-sector organisations outweighed those in the private sector.
“Of the survey group, 82% of public-sector organisations said BPM had helped to improve staff efficiency, compared with 72% of private-sector respondents."
Other BPM-related benefits that appear more evident among public-sector organisations included enabling consistent service delivery (82% versus 72% in the private sector), improving customer satisfaction (64% v 55%) and reductions in training times and costs (55% v 46%).
The survey found the prospect of future investment in BPM appears strong with 70% of respondents indicating they plan to either maintain or increase their spending in the area. When asked to nominate the top three reasons for increasing their investment, public-sector organisations highlighted changes in organisational structure, the impact of new technologies, and support for growth.
However, despite the combination of current and planned BPM investments, the survey found only 28% of Australian public-sector organisations believe their processes are better than those of others. This compares with 31% of organisations in the private sector who feel this way.
“It astounds me that 58% of Australian public sector organisations say that few to none of their processes are even documented,” says Seselj.
'The research has identified that there is still a lot of room for improvement when it comes to getting the most value from BPM initiatives," he adds. "Within many organisations the fundamentals are just not there. Process owners, a governance structure and more visible leadership are essential ingredients for success.
"Organisations that achieve best practice processes are more likely to have internal process owners, an agreed process governance structure and a chief process officer," says Seselj.