When the Titanic sank, researchers furiously worked to determine the causes, so all future ocean liners could safely transport passengers. When an organization experiences a material operational disruption – such as the inability to ship products or close the books – it should work just as furiously to determine root causes, so it can learn from its mistakes. Often, these mistakes are related to business process management.

Learning From Failure

Don’t let your operational disruption discourage you from attempting business process management again. While it can be a daunting process fraught with risk, it’s the only way your organization can grow and innovate. Here’s how you can learn from your mistakes.


You can conduct a lessons learned meeting to review project deliverables. While you want to focus on causes, it also is important to look at effects. Quantifying the direct and indirect costs in terms of time and money will give you an idea of the benefits you’ll need to realize to achieve a positive ROI on failure.


Sharing lessons learned with the entire organization creates a culture of transparency and trust. Every department has something to learn from the post-mortem so be sure to spread the knowledge and empower employees to help you succeed in future initiatives.

Components of Successful Business Process Management

While it’s normal to experience a decrease in productivity after implementing new business processes, operational disruptions can be avoided by developing an effective business process management plan that include the following components.

Business Process Mapping

This involves mapping your current state business processes at a high level, while looking for pain points and opportunities for improvement. There are several degrees of improvement you can choose. Maybe you just want to remove waste. Maybe you’re striving for ultimate efficiency. In some cases, you may want a radical change where you start from scratch. Once you’ve improved, optimized or reengineered each of your processes, it’s time to map your future state. If you’re implementing new technology, you’ll want to map these future state processes to serve as the basis of your ERP selection.

Organizational Change Management

As mentioned earlier, implementing new business processes often causes a decrease in productivity. Organizational change management can reduce the degree of this productivity drop and shorten its duration. Business process management cannot succeed without customized training and targeted employee communication, both of which should begin before software selection.

Continuous Improvement

 A mentality of continuous improvement will ensure that your processes remain optimized overtime and evolve with the needs of your organization. Setting KPIs will allow you to regularly measure performance and determine when processes need further improvement.

Understanding the Wreckage

Now that you know what successful business process management looks like, let’s go back to the wreckage, and see if it makes more sense.

  • Low morale among employees
    • If employees are resisting organizational changes, you may have neglected to map your current and future state business processes and identify gaps for training purposes.
  • Heavy customization and/or software functionality inadequate for your business requirements
    • If your software doesn’t fit your needs and requires extensive customization, you may have allowed software vendors to wow you with shiny new features instead of scripting the demo based on your business requirements.
  • Low benefits realization
    • If your business transformation delivers fewer benefits than anticipated, you may have failed to improve the processes with the most potential to improve efficiency and reduce costs. Or, you may have standardized processes that should be competitive differentiators.

What’s Your ROI on Failure?

If you follow our tips for learning from failure and our steps for successful business process management, you can learn from your mistakes and achieve your vision. Your ROI on failure is up to you.

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