by Molly Eddington
In the business of overseeing successful Business Process Management (BPM) implementations, technical capabilities certainly help. And being well-versed in the Direct Capture of Objectives (DCO) capabilities of PRPC, as well as having experience running DCO sessions, will definitely give you, your project team, and ultimately your client, an edge.
There are other skills and abilities, however, that I might suggest becoming aware of and getting into the habit of practicing on every single project that you’re involved in.
How many are you currently in the habit of?
Habit #1: Get the Big Picture
Often when we arrive on-site to start a project, somebody has completed a good deal of up-front work prior to our arrival. And nine times out of ten, we are handed a bunch of process flows, and/or requirement documents, and perhaps (if we are lucky) some sort of specification. Our immediate tendency is to go heads down and start slicing and dicing to make some sense of all this “stuff”.
Before that head goes down, though, take the time to make sure you understand the big picture. Find out how your project came into being, and seek out any high level documentation such as high-level diagrams, PowerPoints etc. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the technical architecture document will not be useful. You don’t need to understand every single box on it to “get” the big picture.
Understanding the big picture will allow you to better process the detail and be more knowledgeable of the clients business, which will be invaluable in DCO sessions to help drive process improvement.
Habit # 2: Listen…Really Listen
“The biggest communication problem is we don’t listen to understand, but to reply.” -Unknown Author
In DCO sessions, it is not uncommon to come to the table with a bunch of known questions that need to be asked before the session is even started. As you make your way through the session and ask the questions, it’s important to focus on the response of the question you just asked. If you listen to understand the response you hear, it may actually trigger another question, which, if you weren’t truly listening, you would likely have missed.
It is also vital to pay attention to the conversations between Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) that occur during DCO sessions. Often on the surface of the conversation it sounds like they are in agreement, but try to notice when one or two words said by one party may trigger or exacerbate a doubt; this can reflect that they are actually saying two different things. If you are not really listening this may be overlooked, leading to complications down the road.
Habit #3: Document Once (Not Twice or Thrice)
This may seem obvious, but often in an effort to have impeccable traceability, project teams document data elements and/or business rules within a specification, or as requirement rules linked to specifications and perhaps even in spreadsheets attached to specifications. This results in having the same information in up to three different places. However, as things change (and they will) this manual traceability quickly goes out the window, and you are left with incorrect/conflicting documentation.
Take the time to plan on where and how best to document information one time, and use the DCO capabilities for traceability to ensure your documents are always in sync with each other.
Habit # 4: Play Devil’s Advocate…Nicely!
As a business architect one of your primary functions is to guide clients on how they can improve their processes. Business process improvement is not an unknown concept to our clients, but unfortunately, the client’s intention is often to simply replace their as-is process with a PRPC solution. It may be true that “the customer is always right”, but if you don’t challenge the client to improve their processes, you are not enabling them to have a truly robust BPM application that can handle change.
So don’t be afraid to politely challenge the “to-be” process they have come up with, or present different options on how their processes can be improved. This is your opportunity to engage the client with the goal of getting them to start thinking this way themselves.
Habit # 5: Use Your Detective Skills
In order to solve crimes, detectives need to have a wide range of skills including: multi-tasking, strong analytical skills, good intuition, and of course good communication skills, including strong interviewing abilities, and astute judgment and perceptiveness.
These are the same skills a successful business architect needs to possess and practice continuously at all times when engaged on a project. These skills will not only help you seek, find and resolve the many “unknowns” on a project but will also have a positive impact in your DCO sessions.
Habit # 6: Be Creative
In other words, think outside the box.
All projects are unique and somehow, some way, this uniqueness will require you to think outside the box. Whether it’s in coming up with the “to-be” process(es) or determining how you are going to document the 1000+ business rules, you will need to be creative in coming up with ideas/solutions that solve for the now and are adaptable for the future.
Habit # 7: Keep Your Finger on the Pulse
This habit is also known as “keep your eye on the ball,” for those of you who are sports fans. Don’t assume that your work is ever done, even though you may no longer be gathering requirements or participating in DCO sessions. There is constant movement and changes within a project and it’s up to you to be aware of key decisions and changes so you can determine whether or not, or how it’s going to affect the requirements, specifications and processes you have been living and breathing.
If not already doing so, take the opportunity today to start incorporating these habits and see how much more of an effective business architect you can become.