How to counter employee resistance to BPM initiatives.

We know that people resist change so the obvious strategy to decreasing resistance is to minimize change and make the change transparent.Ball_up_Hill

Let’s take a virtual tour of an organization.

You are a consultant with a mandate to increase staff efficiency, improve process throughput, decrease errors and improve compliance with internal and external rules and regulations.

Where do you start?

Step 1
Do a gap analysis.

How good a job is the organization doing in these areas and where would the organization like to be following implementation of the changes you will be recommending?

Understanding how all the pieces fit together.

Rule #1 is that operations follows strategy. If you don’t know where you want to end up chances are you will not get there. If you do manage to get there, you won’t know it.

So, each process must be supportive of strategy.

How do we ensure this?

Well, given a set of strategic objectives, we simply need to rationalize how each process instance advances one or more strategic objectives.

In-place processes should either directly support strategic objectives or indirectly support strategic objectives.

Strategic Objective: Improve quality image at the customer level by reducing product returns by 20% over two years.
Process Contribution: increase QA sampling rate from 5% to 100% by putting a process in-line.

The project covering the QA sampling rate increase will, in the normal course of events, be cost justified by an ROI.

Step 2

Manage the New Process Project

You’ll need a timeline for this and the methodology of choice is a Gantt chart or a CPM diagram (plan, monitor, control).

The deliverable at Step 2 is the required infrastructure plus a BPM flow graph.

Step 3
Put the flow graph in-line, not on-line, assuming a certain level of complexity of the process.

If the process consists of only several steps, connected serially, you could be done once you take staff through change management and publish the paper process flow graph or map.

Otherwise, (i.e. processes characterized by multiple steps, connected in complex ways, where different skilled resources are required to perform different steps, where step-specific data must be collected), you need to put your process in line.

On-line vs. In-line

The distinction between on-line and in-line is all important.

Organizations routinely post policy and procedure to corporate web sites. The presumption is staff will refer to the content. Don’t count on it!

In-line is “in your face”. Staff receives all work assignments at their individual InTrays (including work assignments they impose on themselves).

How do you get staff to adapt to the “change”?

If you go the InTray route, there is little change so resistance should be low.

Our approach is to remind users that there is very little difference between an e-InTray and traditional “agenda books” they are all familiar with and have used at one time or another.

The UI can consist of nothing more than a calendar on one side of a computer screen and a to-do list on the other side.

Staff quickly gets it that fixed time appointments go on the calendar and floating time appointments go on the to-do list.

Events on the calendar require no explanation. Click, you get to a form that allows you to document an event occurrence, you save and then, when you commit, you are done.

As for managing to-do lists, tasks post, they are performed, they clear from InTrays. If you cannot empty your InTray for today, you re-schedule to another day or, if delays cannot be tolerated, your supervisor will assign one or more tasks to someone else.

Easy for you, easy for the organization and today, with mobile options, communicating with people and software systems is straightforward and inexpensive.

So, on your next assignment where stakeholders ask “How will you manage change?” your response should be “I’ll take care of it”.


Management consultant and process control engineer (MSc EE) with a focus on bridging the gap between operations and strategy in the areas of critical infrastructure protection, major crimes case management, healthcare services delivery, and b2b/b2c/b2d transactions. (C) 2010-2019 Karl Walter Keirstead, P. Eng. All rights reserved. The opinions expressed here are those of the author, and are not connected with Jay-Kell Technologies Inc, Civerex Systems Inc. (Canada), Civerex Systems Inc. (USA) or CvX Productions.
This entry was posted in Business Process Improvement, Case Management, Organizational Development, Planning and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to How to counter employee resistance to BPM initiatives.

  1. Here is the checklist we give to our facilitators

    First of all, minimize the change.

    Implement BPM and ACM but avoid talking about this.

    The pitch to stakeholders should go something like this (rephrase in your own words to make it less formal) :

    1. We are in a competitive environment.

    2. There is nothing better than “best practices” so let’s map these out and have them sit in the background of a new software system where they can provide advice and assistance but not constrain your work. You can follow the advice and assistance or ignore it but chances are your work will be simplified if you follow the advice and assistance.

    3. The software system we are introducing comprises one basic screen that has a calendar on one side and a to-do list on the other side. (i.e. your InTray) so it’s very much like the Agenda books most of you have at one time or another used and are familiar with.

    4. The environment hosting the calendar/to-do list is an automated resource allocation environment that causes tasks to post when they become current, the tasks that post are the ones that require action on your part (matching your skills and availability with the skill and timing required by the task), plus tasks that you post yourself.

    5. In respect of the tasks you post and the tasks that the environment posts, you are free to schedule these the way you like ( i.e. do a few small tasks before a meeting, after the meeting focus on one big task with a view to advancing its status).

    6. Whereas there is nothing better, most of the time, than a “best practice”, we all know that specific situations and contexts require deviation away from best practices so you can, when appropriate, skip over tasks, perform tasks in a different order, or insert tasks not in the best practice.

    7. The software system has the ability to pick up on extreme deviations away from best practices so in addition to advice and assistance from the environment you will from time to time get ‘warnings’ and the occasional hard stop.

    8. Adoption of an “agenda book” approach essentially removes the need for changes to the way you work. You have been following our own best practices all along – the tasks that post, the workflows, the forms that post, the need to collect data at tasks, the need for you to indicate when you are done with a task are the same as what all of us are familiar with. (we have today all manner of mobile devices so if you cannot type, speech-to-text, or dictate or write on ordinary paper and the data will be entered by a scribe).

    8. All of this is for the benefit of increasing the competitive advantage of the company and to make work easier for you, much like a GPS helps with driving.


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