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Wednesday, June 20, 2012 by Mark McGregor
Earlier this week I shared the story of KPMG from the IBM Impact event. Here I would like to share with you a story from BSkyB Ltd, a major provider of satellite TV, broadband and telephone services in the UK and Ireland. The presentation was given by Kitson Kelly, Head of Business Change at BSkyB – a brave man who wanted us to be able to learn from their experience.
Kit explained that his group was focused on improving the IT systems that are used to support the B2B side of BSkyB rather than the B2C part that many of us are familiar with. As an example, one of the areas is the support of the BSkyB business “The Cloud”, a business that provides over 66,000 wi-fi hotspots.
Kit’s journey into the world of IBM BPM came as a result of intercepting a less successful project, one that had originally been estimated to take 18 months and cost £12m. Four yours later and at a cost of £40m, the system is now finished. However, finished does not mean complete, as it does not provide all that the capability the business might like or had originally envisaged.
The issues regarding completeness could not all be blamed on IT; within the BSkyB structure the business itself and the requirements were changing very quickly. The project had also set out to solve a problem that people did not initially know how to solve.
To get to the stage of at least completing as much as was practical, the BSkyB team changed their original ideas around development and switched to using a BPMS system. The use of a BPMS enabled them to be a lot more flexible and, of course, more agile. The suggestion seemed to be that without the aid of a BPMS the project might still be running and still not delivering.
In sharing his experience Kit told us that within BSkyB they have “Business Analysts” and “Business Business Analysts”. Apparently the latter group is more focused on understanding business people with business issues, while the former is more focused on the technology needed to support the business.
How the world has changed. Once upon a time we would have had Business Analysts focusing on business problems, and then let Systems Analysts work out how we might use technology to support and implement the needs of the business. It seems we try to use the term Business Analysts for everything now – business analysis, systems analysis, application development and testing!
Kit was very keen to share the lessons they’d learned so that others can avoid some of the pitfalls BSkyB encountered. One of his discoveries was that while he had a great group of people who really understood development and process automation, these people did not fully understand how people interacted with the processes and systems. The BSkyB solution to this was a combination of training people and also holding more JAD-type sessions with users for interface design. Kit suggested that sometimes it might be better to “JAD the UI with users first and then work out how to put the logic behind it”.
For Kit, the next steps are to keep everyone focused on ways to deliver more, faster. He is also looking at implementing a new IBM BPM-based system to replace legacy systems and integrate their CRM system within their “engineer visit process”¯.
Perhaps Kit’s wisest words came at the end when he reminded us:
“Before being able to undertake major enterprise BPM projects, we first have to rebuild the credibility of IT within the eyes of the business; until we can get back that level of trust it is unlikely that they will allow us to undertake what is in effect major surgery on the business.”¯
For me this was a very refreshing story. Refreshing from the point of view that while success was achieved with IBM BPM and IBM service support, it was not all about IBM and their products, but instead an everyday story of someone trying to bring things back from the brink, being human and achieving some things but not everything, and then dealing with the practical lessons in order to learn for the future.
With this and the KPMG story we can see that there are multiple ways to think about and use a BPMS system in order to generate value, but that to get the best value requires skills and thinking beyond the technology itself. And of course doing BPM means more than simply trying to implement a BPMS.