Many businesses turn to tools and technology to cope with the pace of change and innovation, but at times this emphasis on technical solutions leads executives to overlook the role people play in organizational success.

With all the talk of artificial intelligence, robotic process automation and virtual reality, the role of humans may appear to be at risk of becoming obsolete in the achievement of operational excellence. People should be at the heart of successful process improvement efforts. While it would be naïve to suggest that teams could be effective without using computer systems, the best approach is a balance between technology and people.

Tech That Matches Human Needs

Organizations that experience success in their pursuit of operational excellence have realized this, and they are becoming smarter at engaging their teams with technology that matches human needs and habits while also helping to streamline and simplify complex environments.

When it comes to business process management (BPM), the use of apps, tools and software platforms can enable people to interact with information — and with each other — in ways that are efficient and happen in real time. Choosing a BPM tool that is right for your organization and will help you achieve your process improvement goals is key, and there are many factors to consider as you approach this important decision.

You’ll need to understand your organization’s level of readiness, what you want to achieve with your process improvement efforts, and why you have embarked on process improvement. Think about how you are managing your processes today, and what resources are at your disposal to drive and support your process improvement initiatives.

Future development requirements will also impact your platform selection criteria, so be clear on your upcoming needs.

Organizational needs will vary, but here are five features and capabilities to look for as you begin evaluating BPM software tools.

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1. User Fit

One of your priorities should be to determine whether a BPM system will be a good match for your users’ needs.

Remember, technical process specialists and front-line employees have different requirements and skill sets. Think about who will use the software, and learn about their communication preferences. Users should have the ability to engage with the tool easily, and it should save them time and effort. If a system is too hard to use, employees will ignore it and look for workarounds.

Moreover, the BPM tool should be made available to your whole organization. The employees who will use it every day are the people who know your processes best. They can tell you what is and isn’t working in your current processes, and you should ask them to help plan your forthcoming processes.

2. Change Management Capabilities

Governance is critical to the success of process improvement efforts, so look for a tool that facilitates governance.

Given the pace of change in most businesses, features to look for include the ability to change or update processes easily, version control, the ability to maintain a record of who uses the system and the ability to track changeable components for auditors. It’s not enough to simply capture static processes.

Learning Opportunities

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3. Support for Collaboration

BPM tools should enable and encourage active collaboration and the exchange of ideas. To help drive engagement with your processes, you want a tool that gives teams access to process information where and when it’s needed, as well as a tool that creates one version of process truth.

Ideally, a BPM tool should house and track suggestions for improvement and feedback, and it should keep a record of when these are successfully executed.

4. Scalability

You will want process management software that’s future-proof — a system whose capabilities can expand as your business evolves. Tools like Visio, Word and PowerPoint often fall short on this front because they aren’t scalable. Your rollout plan should include the development of an IT infrastructure with sufficient resources to support a scalable BPM platform.

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5. ROI

Regardless of your level of investment in a process management platform, BPM tools should deliver concrete results.

After you roll out your new system, you should expect to see small wins within a short period of time. This will motivate and encourage employees to identify opportunities to reduce waste, remove non-value-add activities and look for opportunities to cut costs. It will also give leadership teams confidence that they have invested wisely in process improvement.

BPM Tools Support People

Keeping these five factors in mind will help ensure that you select the right approach to meet your current and future business process requirements, and that you position your company for operational excellence and success.

As discussed earlier, people, of course, are key to the success of any organization. But you can improve your chances of operational excellence success if you choose a technology platform that supports your employees’ efforts.

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