InfoWorks interviewed Shelley Sweet, who is President of I4 Process and author of The BPI Blueprint. I4 Process provides consultation, workshops and training programs based on a unique 3-PEAT method of modeling processes and analyzing data that accelerates operational improvements, and builds leaders and employees who sustain operational excellence.
InfoWorks: Why did you decide to write a book about Business Process Improvement?
Shelley Sweet: I have more than 20 years experience as a business process management expert. Over that time I’ve had many clients express how they appreciate my approach to business process improvement (BPI) training because I make it easy to understand and they get great results quickly. Many also suggested I write a book based on my methodology because the other books out there were very complicated. So I took their comments seriously and wrote The BPI Blueprint: A Step-by-Step Guide to Make Your Business Process Improvement Projects Simple, Structured and Successful to fill that void.
InfoWorks: What are the biggest challenges people face when implementing BPI projects?
Shelley Sweet: Three top challenges are:
- Information technology does not have the bandwidth to work on the improvements for implementation now or for the next 6 months, so the implementation dies a slow death.
- Employees must change how they do their work and they do not see the value of the new way.
- New functions are needed for implementation that were not engaged in the improvement project and do not make implementation a priority.
InfoWorks: What is different about your approach to BPI?
Shelley Sweet: My approach, detailed in the book, is different because it focuses on business process improvement projects and what to do, from choosing a process all the way to implementation. It is a practical guide that outlines exactly what’s required at each phase, such as: Chartering and Staffing, Process Discovery, Process Analysis, Process Design, and Implementation Plan. Plus, modeling, analytical and redesign tools and techniques are explained so readers can replicate them. And client examples provide guideposts, demonstrating what works, what doesn’t, and why.
But it doesn’t cover every technique and tool, or you’d be doing the project for 6 months or more. Instead it tells you what techniques you need for your project in your organization, so that you can keep it simple and be successful.
InfoWorks: Who is likely to benefit from reading your book?
Shelley Sweet: The book is made for leaders of a BPI project and team resources doing the modeling, analysis, and redesign of the project. That means any executive or senior manager who has stepped up to be an Executive Sponsor for the project or the on-going Process Owner. It also means the Project Lead or best subject matter expert and the Team Facilitator (who could be any employee who knows group process skills and business process improvement techniques.) All four of these are leaders. It is also for employees and managers who will be part of the resources of the team doing the BPI project.
It for written for business professionals at any level, in any industry, at companies of any size doing a BPI project. Each group benefits by knowing the steps of a BPI project, its potential pitfalls, and what to do to keep the project on track.
InfoWorks: Can you share an idea from the book that will benefit anyone doing BPI?
Shelley Sweet: Developing a charter is a must. (Project Managers know that from other projects as well). For A BPI project the charter has certain elements that are specific to a process improvement effort – such as a high-level map of the process, improvement targets that set goals for the project, quantitative baseline measures to show where the project is today, a defined scope, a vision, and a few other items. It can be completed in 90 minutes or less by the 4 leaders of the BPI project – the Executive Sponsor, the Process Owner, the subject matter expert Project Lead, and the Team Facilitator.
The BPI charter brings the leaders together and gets them aligned; it scopes the project and focuses the work through the improvement targets; it enables the leaders to see how a process project is different from other projects; it defines and assigns roles and responsibilities to the leaders; and it designates the team members and their roles. If you can’t get the leaders and the charter, there is little point in starting, as the BPI project will limp along or be confused.