Surviving the Age of Disruption

Broken Bridge

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Peter Schooff:  This is Peter Schooff, Managing Editor at BPM.com and today I'm very pleased to speak with Ivan Seselj, the CEO of Promapp. Ivan has more than 10 years experience in business process improvement roles across a range of organizations and industries. And by leveraging his finance and internal audit background, he founded Promapp in 2002. He has helped a great number of organizations improve both their processes and their performance and that's exactly what we're going to be talking about today. So, thank you so much for joining me today, Ivan.

Ivan Seselj:  No worries. Hi Peter.

Peter Schooff:  So, just to start it off, exactly what made you found Promapp?

Ivan Seselj:  Okay, well look, I was one of those people running process projects, part of these big transformation projects for large organizations, and felt like they were working perfectly fine for the projects would all sign off. And my real surprise was just how badly they were received after the projects. They were basically not relevant at all. They weren't used. They weren't alive in any way. They weren't, to me, making an impact at all and I just thought, "This is crazy. There's got to be a better way." So that's what started my journey with Promapp.

Peter Schooff:  Gotcha. So, let's drill down on that a little further. What did you feel was not working with other BPM tools?

Ivan Seselj:  There's two areas I thought that where the failures were coming through. One was just no one's engaging with this information. No one's using it. There's got to be a reason. And I felt that this stuff was just written for the wrong audience. I was writing my process information and summarizing and getting that sign off within that really controlled environment of a project. And the guys out in teams that are using it every day, that are interacting with customers, are just a different audience. And so I think that's a stone cold killer for engagement, if it's not even written for you.

Peter Schooff: Definitely.

Ivan Seselj:  Yeah. The second aspect, I sort of thought, "This has got to be alive. It's got to be living, breathing, changing. It's got to be the cause of conversation around a water cooler and let's do something about this." You know, that's how alive I consider the process to be. You need process owners involved in that conversation with tools that they can drive, that they can accept responsibility for. So that's the second aspect. I just think it's got to be something that every day business teams, process owners can own, can drive. That was the second area not working.

Peter Schooff:  Definitely. So engagement is definitely key and that's what we've seen at BPM.com. So, a recent survey of U.S. companies indicate that only 46% of companies have a BPM system in place. Why exactly would you say that number is so low after so many years of BPM?

Ivan Seselj:  Look, from what we see, and we have our fair share of pitches where we come in and we see just how dire the process environment is and the culture is and they still don't ... You know, the executive team just runs though the decision process and they still don't proceed. Thankfully that's something that's happening less and less now. I genuinely think some of these leaders and exec teams think they've got process running, they've got it covered. 'Cause I've seen some process maps on walls or they've got some manuals around or their auditors are running around doing audits and there's no red flags. And they just don't realize how bad the situation is. And I think, depending on the style of leaders that you have, there's going to be cases where they're sort of treating the symptoms. They're trying to blame technology, perhaps. Or "We can fix this by getting a new ERP," rather than really taking a good hard look at their own processes. So, I think part of it is exec teams think they're responding by fixing the symptoms rather than the underlying cause, which is just poor process.

Peter Schooff:  Very interesting. Now, you have a long history with processes. So, why do you think it is so important than a company focuses on processes?

Ivan Seselj:  Okay, well, I think now more than ever you can't avoid the fact that we're in the age of disruption, of digital disruption, of markets turning upside down. And you're going to get left behind. And I think we're already seeing it where if you're not constantly challenging how you do things and making that call to every team, every person, almost, in your organization to step up to that challenge and look at how we're doing things, then you're going to get left behind. So, I think it's very much undersold as processes ... Just about slight incremental improvements, perhaps or having some control over how we do things. It's actually a much bigger picture now, which is very much your company's survival.

Peter Schooff:  Definitely. Now, let's say there's one takeaway from this podcast. Exactly what is the key to successful BPM?

Ivan Seselj:  Okay, my take on successful BPM is across the board collaboration across every team, everyone feels like they've got a voice, everyone feel's like they're participating, and the conversation of improvement and innovation. And that means, when it comes down to successful BPM, engagement, simplicity, communication at a level teams understand. So we're very much, at Promapp, focused on that whole "Look BPM is just as much a communication platform as it is a control and improvement platform." So, that's what I think the absolute key is to BPM: engagement and simplicity.

Peter Schooff:  Definitely. I agree completely. This is Peter Schooff of BPM.com speaking with Ivan Seselj, the CEO of Promapp. Ivan, thank you so much for joining me on the podcast today.

Ivan Seselj:  You're welcome. Thanks, Peter.

Peter Schooff
Author: Peter SchooffWebsite: bpm.com
Managing Editor
Peter Schooff is Managing Editor at BPM.com, where he oversees the BPM.com Forum as well as other content and social media initiatives. Peter has over 15 years experience in various enterprise IT fields, including serving as Director of Marketing for email security company Message Partners. Most recently he served as Managing Editor for ebizQ, for which he created and ran the ebizQ forum. Peter is known world-wide for his views and contributions to BPM, and was named among the Top 12 Influencers of Case Management through independent market research.