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“Very insightful, as it made me think about asking for things in a different way in order to get a different outcome”



How Do You Get Buy In for BPM Recommendations? – The Engagement Plan

Dear i4Process,

My department operates at an involvement management work level. Employees can contribute ideas but the supervisors or unit heads make the final decisions. In this type of management work level, employees must make sure to provide supervisors and unit heads with comprehensive information about their work and processes so that informed decisions can be made. (See and earlier blog for an explanation of the Management Work Levels.)

Two key stakeholders in our research grant pre-award proposal process are principal investigators and research administrators. These stakeholders cumulatively have a wide range of experience and a familiarity with the pre-award process so their knowledge provides added value to the process improvement recommendations. The sponsor for the project, the Management Services Officer (also a stakeholder) also needs to be involved as he makes the final decision, but knows the least about the process.

How do I get the commitment of all these stakeholders for the improvement recommendations?

Need Commitment

Dear Need Commitment,

You’ve done a good job already of understanding your involvement culture and you’ve identified three key stakeholders – the principle investigators, research administrators, and Management Services Officer.  You have also identified the Management Services Officer as the sponsor, which means you have established the key leadership and authority for the process improvement project. 

Now what you need is an Engagement Plan.  I prefer the name Engagement Plan to Communication Plan. I think Engagement Plan articulates a fuller purpose than Communication Plan.  Engagement Plan implies using different strategies and media to dialog with and get input from stakeholders whereas Communication Plan can imply just ‘pushing’ communications to the stakeholders.

I suggest the following template to formulate an engagement plan. On the left hand side in column one list the key stakeholders: internal groups of employees and managers who work in the process, manage the process, and interact with the process, as well as internal or external customers, and external suppliers.  Across the top put the major touch points with each group as the BPM project progresses; also identify what you are going to request of each group.  Then in the cells, identify what method you will use to engage this group, and what you will request of them. 

Template for Engagement Plan (cells partially completed)

Now this is really only the beginning because you will need to detail out each engagement cell – who will do it, what the specific content will be, what benefit the project will have for each group, and what you will ask of them.  At certain times you may ask a group to give you input, to provide data, to test prototypes, to engage other colleagues, to promote the work to other groups, etc. You want to engage them during the session or blog or prototype demo, and then you want to get them to give back through your request.  Without a clear ask you won’t get any action on their part.

Engaging stakeholders is one of the keys for change management. The engagement process should not wait until the process has been redesigned and the recommendations approved.  That’s like saying,  “We did the blueprints for our conference room and built it; now here it is.  How do you like it?”  It’s too late then.  The BPM team and Process Owner should be engaging with peers and other stakeholders as soon as the charter is completed – to explain why the BPM project was started, what is the business need and how it aligna with the strategy, who the leaders and team are, and what the roadmap is.  Then continue with periodic engagement interventions, at milestones or after a specific time-boxed periods.  In the life of a three-month project, there should be three or four engagements with stakeholders and more with the Executive Sponsor and Process Owner.

In fact this client later elaborated on the elements of their Engagement Plan in three areas:  Informing, Consulting, and Empowering.

Later “Need Commitment” told me what she thought of the Engagement Plan.

At the beginning of the engagement plan, the stakeholders were a bit hesitant and one was even resistant to make any improvements. However, by getting their feedback and opinions on how these improvements should be made and emphasizing the importance of their involvement, I realized that this gave them a sense of empowerment at the very end of it. It was a long process of consensus-building and participatory decision-making that made all the stakeholders feel very invested in the success of this improvement process. The thoroughness and amount of effort were evident in the valuable feedback presented at the meetings. The sponsor, having attended these meetings, was very open to approving whatever plan of attack the stakeholders developed because he trusted that the plan was a product of all the hard work that he observed at these meetings.” 

If you want to learn more about  how to successfully start and organize an improvement process, register for my i4Process class June 18 and 19.  Currently there is a coupon for 15% off the list prices.  Or consider the second virtual course, Analyzing and Optimizing BPM Processes July 30 and 31. 

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