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“Shelley established a client management process, built a migration plan, engaged clients to meet their content goals, and developed a unique user acceptance testing process that really created client commitment. When the new Intranet site launched, clients raved and we had no major surprises.”

Shawn Wilson
Intranet Manager


Half the Time Process Improvement Fails: How to Be in the Other Half: Part 3 – The BPI Team

Car in pot holeAsk, do we interview various stakeholders to develop the current state models?  Do we seek out individual specialists to gather and analyze quantitative data?  Here’s what I have found: if you want to increase your risk of failure—use individuals instead of a BPI team.  A core team that is ongoing for the charter, modeling, analysis, redesign, and implementation plan is critical.  When SMEs are interviewed individually and provide input, they do just that—provide input.  When they are part of the core team they become a high performing team that ensures strong analysis, teamwork across silos, and successful implementation.

So who are these key team members?  I suggest a group of 6-8 people, including the Project Lead and Team Facilitator. (Part 1 and Part 2 of this series focused on the BPI (business process improvement) Charter and BPI team leaders, two critical elements for a successful BPI project.

BPI core team slide Screen Shot AM

Subject Matter Experts

The team needs two to six subject matter experts (SMEs) in addition to the Project Lead. The SMEs as a group need to understand all the activities in the High-Level Map. The number of SMEs needed is dependent on the complexity of the process and the size of the company.  Select the best and the brightest SMEs, not just people who are available, and the SMEs should be eager to improve the process.  It is fine to have one naysayer on the team, but if several of the SMEs are naysayers, forward progress will be difficult. 

Data Person

The data person is a team member who encourages the team to identify and gather quantitative data, and will spearhead this effort for the team. This person does not have to gather all the data and analyze it himself; rather, he just raises data issues to the team. It’s important that the person in this role know something about the process so that he understands the process’s current and future data requirements.  This role can be a dual role with a SME team member


One team member documents meeting ideas, action items, decisions, and models for the current and future state process. It is possible to have the documenter capture the process diagram models in real time on a laptop while the team is creating them on a large whiteboard.  But it is also fine to create the documentation after the session.  This role can be shared with a SME or the IT role.

Information Technology (IT)

The technology person on the team brings ideas and pragmatism to discussions about what is possible with the current technology and could be possible with future technology solutions. The team member in the IT role is not usually a developer, but a business analyst or an enterprise architect who knows the current systems and databases involved in the process and can suggest ideas for technology improvements in the process.  The IT person helps with thinking about the integration needed with other systems and databases. S/he helps the team understand what is easy from an IT perspective and what will take longer to develop. IT people love being on the team because they get to see the process end-to-end.


The Maverick asks probing questions, suggests different perspectives, and challenges statements such as “we’ve always done it that way.” The Maverick does not work in the process.  He is an outsider.  He brings a fresh outsider view to the improvement effort.

Anyone on the team can ask Maverick questions, and that naturally begins to happen on the team.  But, it is still helpful to have that role represented individually on the team.

The BPI team breeds success in several ways.

  • The team knows the work process.  Who better to model and analyze the current work?
  • The team members build the redesign and advocate for the design to their peers. Both elements reduce resistance from end users during implementation.
  • A story begins to emerge for team members (and leaders), enhancing the communication process and engagement with stakeholders.
  • The team aligns around the BPI goal (improvement targets and vision).  This alignment and their work together creates the synergy of a high performing team.
  • The team wants to implement and many of them join the new team to implement.  I had one team say, “We don’t need the Process Owners approval. We’ll do this ourselves anyway!”

Want to learn how to select team members and how many you need?  Read my  blog, “The Smallest and Largest BPM Teams”, take my live on line class “Starting and Organizing a BPM Project”  (see schedule). Or purchase my new book, The BPI Blueprint:  A Step-By-Step Guide to Make Your Business Process Improvement Projects Simple, Structured and Successful.  


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15 comments to Half the Time Process Improvement Fails: How to Be in the Other Half: Part 3 – The BPI Team

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