This post would not have happened if I had not stopped for a cup of coffee at a newly opened coffee shop near my home. The coffee shop was quiet, and several youngsters passionately worked on their laptops. Coffee and snacks, with Wi-Fi and a place to work. Sounded like a good place. What caught my attention was the soothing on-demand analog music playing on an audiophile setup, an environment that had an eye for details, creating a retro aura and inspiring innovation, coupled with service that was top notch. What a unique differentiator! I quickly fell in love with the new kid on the block in an otherwise crowded market.
These unique differentiators make a company stand out from a slew of good ones.
And that is not just for coffee shops. It works for any industry, including BPM Implementation. If you are in the market for a BPM Implementation partner, take a moment and look again at your list. Can you spot any impressive differentiators there?
All the good BPM consulting firms provide strong technical skills, project management experience, availability of needed resources at the right time, and competitive pricing. But I am sure you are looking for something more than that. Pointers that promise a trusted long-term partnership and indicators that excite you beyond your immediate BPM goals.
While I enjoyed my quick shot of caffeine, a list was already forming in my mind. A list of differentiators for choosing the right BPM implementation partner who will not only implement your BPM projects but will be your trusted partner to guide you on your broader digital transformation vision.
Like the people working around me, I opened my tablet and jotted the list down immediately. Here is what I think are five unique characteristics that you should look for while selecting your BPM implementation partner. Something beyond the basics.
1. Flexible Engagement Model
BPM vendors may offer engagement models that work for them, but you need a model that works for you, even when you grow or change direction. If your company is agile and keeps pace with the changes in your industry, you need a partner in step with you. Shortlist companies with a global delivery model that is flexible to match your changing needs – now and in the future. As an example, go for a partner that offers you the freedom to choose the percentage mix of onsite and offshore headcounts based on your needs rather than being forced the mix that suits the service provider based on where their talent pool resides.
2. Thought Leadership
BPM implementation partners who have an established track record of innovative solutions, tailored to the needs of their clients, will bring more to the table than a standard BPM project delivery company. They will not just follow your script but will present their own perspective on the right usage of BPM, creating a winning partnership that will benefit you in the long run.
A sure sign of thought leadership is their exhaustive understanding and passion about BPM, contribution to community knowledge, forums, blogs, white papers etc. Look for a trusted knowledge center covering a large number and types of skill sets, forward-looking approach, authority amongst peers, and regular participation in BPM events sharing the platform with the best. Companies presenting their ideas, success stories, solutions and thoughts at industry events, webinars and conferences is a great sign. Going further, look for companies that have created their own community and host their own customer conference to promote sharing of BPM best practices, lessons learned, trends and experiences and facilitate peer-to-peer networking.
Always place a premium on thought leadership because results are infinitely better when your partners can tap into the talent and expertise of their own core team.
3. Intellectual Property and Research Labs
Many BPM service providers have been implementing BPM for 10-15 years and should have enough knowledge, expertise and depth in efficiently implementing BPM solutions. But is that enough? If you expect to transform the way you work and not just automate current processes, you should look for strong BPM technical capabilities combined with innovative problem-solving skills in your BPM implementation partner.
I would suggest you grab a cup of coffee and take your time over this evaluation. A good way to gauge this if to understand if the partner has an Innovation Lab where research is conducted, new ideas are tested, and emerging trends explored in upcoming automation technologies. These research labs help you try things out and see them in action before you invest in them. Assess the vendors for original Intellectual Property (IP) they have developed using BPM. A range of pre-built solutions, frameworks and accelerators will highlight their deep understanding and confidence. Bonus points for a Center of Excellence that can provide support, training, best practices, technical leadership and continuously groom the project teams on an ongoing basis.
Thought leadership augmented with an Innovation Lab and a Center of Excellence facility is a hallmark for exceptional capabilities when it comes to BPM implementation.
4. Recognition from All Stakeholders
By now you must have narrowed down to a short-list of 2-3 BPM implementation partners. Now look for proven technical proficiency, respect from peers, and the right engagement model. The next yardstick I would recommend is the recognition the partner gets from all the stakeholders. And, by stakeholders, I mean customers, BPM technology vendors and industry analysts.
How do customers and partners recognize the vendor? While size of the firm is important, often smaller boutique consulting firms fare better in flexibility and faster delivery especially since BPM uses low-code technology and agile delivery, thus needing just 2-3 consultants per project, which helps in winning the customer’s confidence. A partner who can readily offer customer references can quickly demonstrates this. Customer advocacy can take the confidence level a notch higher by actively recommending the partner. Getting assurances from existing customers will qualify the value the partner can deliver.
Most BPM technology platform vendors have their own way of grading / scoring their implementation partners. A strong recommendation from BPM technology vendor coupled with recognition, awards and a strong, long-lasting partnership is a great indicator that a implementation partner has successfully delivered BPM projects year after year.
Industry analysts look at the BPM industry holistically rating vendors on maturity, capacity, thought leadership, innovation and technical depth. Such evaluation provides an impartial assessment from multiple angles, some of which are difficult to do on your own. Your best bet is to start with vendors that are in the top right quadrant/wave of the analysts’ recommendations.
5. Trusted Partnership through the Transformation Journey
My final measure takes a long-term view on how the implementation partner will fit into your corporate strategy and your measurable goals. Check the complete value proposition as a partner for all possible future initiatives and not just for the immediate needs. Estimate their commitment to learn and grow their domain knowledge as the relationship grows.
Study their project delivery strategy to see if they listen to your pain points and proactively suggest ideas/solutions. Do they follow only the standard project management steps or also take a personal interest in your success? Assess if they will be a reliable partner throughout the digital transformation journey from strategy, roadmap, architecture, successful project roll-out, and analytics to measure the success of each project. Are they keen to learn from measuring the outcomes and tweak further to improve the results? A trusted partner is open to incorporating lessons learned from past project to improve the outcomes of upcoming projects.
Coffee or no coffee, your thoughts must be racing, too. Going beyond the basics and working with these differentiated criteria will make your choice clear. Choose the right BPM implementation partner for flexibility, thought leadership, technical excellence, and industry recognition for a rewarding long-term trusted relationship.