James Smith profile smallLess than a week to go until BPM Europe and we’re delighted to announce our guest speaker: James Smith, Director of Process Improvement & Corporate Information SystemsBirkbeck University of London. 

James will be speaking on Wednesday 17th of the event which takes place in London on 15-18 June. For the agenda, and information on how to register, visit the IRM website. For now, here’s a forward look at some of the nuggets that James will be sharing on the day…

This year’s BPM Europe Conference is focused on enabling organizations to architect while still managing the day-to-day. What are the biggest challenges you have faced in your process improvement efforts?

Just that – planning for the future whilst maintaining the here and now! But I don’t think you can separate the two. Process Improvement is not something that anyone is going to do ‘next year’ – it is a journey. First, you need to overcome the mindset that BPM involves complex and time-consuming implementations. As we’ve found ourselves, the right BPMS – in our case, Bizagi – has enabled us to embed process change quickly and put in place the supporting platform for long-term improvement. Case Study: Learn how Birkbeck delivered ROI in just 12 weeks.

How has your BPM initiative evolved? How much impact does continuous improvement have on your daily running of the corporate information systems?

Our reason to purchase a BPMS was part of a University-wide ‘Operational Excellence’ programme to tackle a whole range of challenges, including a 40% cut in teaching grants, fees & funding changes, combined with the overall drop in part-time student numbers.

Birkbeck University of London

How did your BPM initiative begin – and how has it evolved?

We started by identifying the processes that gave us the biggest headaches, and then engaged a facilitator to help us bring all the participants together to understand the existing process, its strengths and weaknesses, and then design a new process. At the same time we were implementing our Bizagi platform. Once the newly designed process was agreed we were able to start implementing it in Bizagi. Over the two years since the process has gone live, we’ve been able to monitor the way the process behaves (or should I say the participants behave!) and release refinements to the process in a controlled way.

How does an organization like Birkbeck embed technology & process improvement into its culture?

The first challenge is agreeing what our processes are and what they look like. That is where the modelling comes in. Having an easy-to-use modelling tool has enabled us to get people to start talking the language of process (something that seemed like a big ask a few years ago). Having engaged in collaborative discussions around a process model, it is straightforward to automate and deploy a live process. Bizagi’s architecture – probably of more interest to me and the other IT users – impressed us, because in it we saw a set of tools that provided the necessary technical infrastructure, but also a clean and intuitive user experience that wouldn’t scare of our business process owners.

You’ve achieved some great results through BPM… Can you explain?

We were able to deliver our first process improvement project in just 3 months and deliver some very impressive ROI (the process, which manages course change requests accessible to 18,000 students is now 90% faster than before). This gave us the spark we needed to engage the budget owners and set the stage for more change initiatives.

Birkbeck Oracle Apex Student Services Portal Bizagi

My Birkbeck Profile: Using the Birkbeck Portal, students can log in and make change requests to their course of study. Using Bizagi, this process is now 90% faster than it was in 2013.


What can delegates expect to hear from you at this year’s EAC/BPM Conference?

An honest insight into what it’s like to embark on the journey to Operational Excellence. I’ll be talking in depth about how we initiated our ‘First BPM Process’ and the results we achieved. Themes, such as gaining efficiency, value for money, overcoming data silos, engaging stakeholders – will be relevant to any discipline, not just those within the HE sector.

Finally, what does it take to keep Operational Excellence on the agenda?

Knowledge, competence, commitment, resources… and a dash of humour!

 Can’t make this event? Here’s some information you may find of interest…