Simple vs Complex – The Correct Decision!

Congratulations! Your company’s Business Process Management (BPM) initiative is officially underway and off the ground.

As you roll-up your sleeves, loosen your tie and wheel your chair up toward your computer to model that very first official process model, you think to yourself, “This sure has been an agonizing six months of key stakeholder and general business user meetings – I thought this day would never arrive”. Suddenly – with the BPMS modeler tool open, your internal body temperature rises, your palms become clammy and you begin to sweat like an artist with an empty white canvas, commissioned to paint the sequel to Michelangelo’s “Sistine Chapel”!

“Why am I so nervous”, you ask yourself?

Inevitably, all sorts of questions pop into your mind such as:

• Is this the correct first process for the business? Does it make sense?
• Should we scrap this one and tackle the most simplistic process? Or…
• On the other hand, maybe the most complex process is the one to strive for!?

Usually, what it boiled down to this … the first process tackled by most businesses is either the most complex process or the most simplistic process. Not the correct one! Let’s briefly take a look at each – the most complex and the most simplistic and the common reasons why companies choose one or the other.

• The most complex process, first. Reason? Well, most companies believe if they tackle the most complex process and succeed, then the rest of the processes will fall in line automatically – piece of cake! Whereas another school of thought is…
• The most simplistic process, first. Reason? The thought here would be if we get this “layup” out the door, then we will be able to gradually build upon the knowledge gained and successfully implement the remaining ones, progressively moving toward the most complex processes.

To be quite blunt – neither one of these process first theories, as a standalone decision is the ultimate correct decision.


Align your business processes and measurements with the business goals – then choose your first process model to implement, regardless of level of complexity by analysis for the ultimate return on your BPM investment. I have applied this technique to various clients from the pages of a fantastic read entitled “The Power of Business Process Improvement” by Susan Page.

1. Create a Process Inventory: List all business processes within your department or by business unit and assign a business process owner (the one person responsible for the process) to each business process. This step is very crucial as it both lays the ground work of prioritizing your business processes and also demonstrates that you understand the business and its goals.

2. Create Categories/Criteria: Once the process inventory is created, it’s time to assign categories such as: Impact, Implementation, Current State, Business Value, and apply criteria to each of the defined categories. This will begin your analysis as you measure what the business deems the most critical business processes to implement first.

3. Apply Weight for Impact: Finally, rate each of the criteria within each category by a scale that is totally up to you. For example, a scale of 1-10 or 1-3 or large, medium and small.

4. Analysis: Analyze your business processes within your inventory, and you should see a trend or ones that bubbles to the surface via the measurements that you applied in the previous steps.


In this example, I am comparing the “User On-Boarding Process” and the “Annual Review Process” in our process inventory by the following categories and criteria outlined below:

Process Impact Category (35%)
• Number of people affected by the process or Business Process Improvement (BPI) initiative?
• Internal stakeholders level (What groups are affected by the BPI?)

Process Implementation Category (30%)
• Process time to market (How long will it take to improve/implement the process?)
• Funding (What will implementing the process cost)
• Timing of the next cycle (How often is the process used?)

Process Current State As-Is Category (20%)
• Internal stakeholders satisfaction with the “As-Is” Process
• Pain level (to produce results) “As-Is” Process
• Does the process exist and is it documented?

Process Value Category (15%)
• Benefit/ Return (ROI)

I calculated the totals through my personal scaling system and came to the conclusion that the Annual Review Process’s total score of 6.65 warranted the first implementation for our BPM program. In turn, you may use whatever category, weight, criteria and scale you wish to establish your correct metrics.

Now, you are ready to choose and implement your correct business process, with the best return on investment for your organization.

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