Tuesday, 28 August 2007

India Week – Why BPM Does Not Resonate in India (Yet!)

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During the past 3 months I have had the opportunity and pleasure of working with, presenting to or training over 1,000 people from literally hundreds of organisations in India. My experience to date shows that BPM faces a real uphill struggle to show itself to be relevant.

Just as elsewhere in the world there is the perception that BPM equals BPMS, and we all know that BPMS's mean automation. Well if BPM is all about automation and the elimination of much work, then why would a country that is more focussed on the need to create jobs have any interest in it?

Let me give you an example. Just last night I needed some photocopying done and so went down to one of the many Xerox shops here in Chennai to get it done. I had around 50 pages and I required them to be printed double sided. The whole job took no more than 10 to 15 minutes and cost very little, but the experience said so much. Firstly, the copy shop made no use of auto sheet feeding on the copy machine, it was all done manually by the operator – the shopkeeper told me that he would have to do literally years worth of double sided work to justify sheet feeders and duplex units, far cheaper to pay operators to do the work, and besides it creates employment. Secondly, we also see that quality is something that is talked of but not always delivered. The same copy shop had posters everywhere that were motivational, inspirational and assuring the customer that they cared. However, when my copies came they were of an extremely poor quality, despite complaining it was stated that it did not matter if I did not like the output, they had done the work and so I had to pay – Hmm... behaviour follows reward, they are rewarding themselves for the work not for success, the probability is that this particular copy shop may not last too long.

So if we are to make BPM interesting to the Indian market, then we have to show it to be relevant to the market, which it most certainly is. Indian businesses, just like any other need to work smarter, need to acquire new customers faster, need to control costs, need to increase revenues, need to generate profits and most of all need to keep customers happy. Well the good news is that BPM is done properly can help them achieve all those things and more. I would also add that there is another imperative for BPM and Business Transformation here in India, one of scalability. This is a vast country with many different cultures and unique challenges, not least of which is transport and distribution.

Unfortunately, to date it seems that too few people talk about BPM this way in India, to date most of the people talking about and promoting BPM are Indian IT companies, and as we shall see in a later article these companies are not well suited to looking after the interests of the Indian people and do not necessarily have a particularly bright future. Indeed many of these companies actively state that they are not wanting to get involved in the business aspects of change and are not interested in the Indian market –a question I have is if you do not care about India and the Indian market then why should India or the Indian market care about you?

BPM if applied as a philosophy will help to unlock some of the massive potential that exists here in India, but it will require forward thinking, better training and most of all action – it is not something to be talked about be too be acted upon. Whether the actions take place at the board level doing full blown BPM or whether they take place at a lower level in the guise of some flavour of continual process improvement it does not really matter as long as it is about processes, always doing better and focussing from the outside in.

If it is taken on board then it can help to address not just some of the business challenges of India Inc. But some of the social challenges too.

A final thought would be that if Indian businesses don't work fast to address this, then there will be plenty of opportunity for international players to enter the Indian market and then as we all know customers will vote with their wallets (but staff will vote also, with their wage packets!)

Thoughts for the Day

  1. If you are not going to be Customer Centric then why should your business survive?
  2. How man the products or services you provide be applied to a wider market in India?
  3. Do you reward the behaviour you desire or just pay for work?

1 comment:

Sabuj said...

Hi Mark,

The thoughts that you have put in is very true. Let us take the example of the photocopying shop. If you had looked around, you might have found that it was the only photocopy shop in the vicinity and the owner knows that people around do not have a choice but come to him. Moreover, the onus lies on the customers to make the owner understand the problem. It is the mindset of the common mass that needs to be changed. As long as this does not happen, BPM will always take a backseat here.
You have put up a small example. If you ask an average Indian guy, you will find that he lives with such compromises every day. The common mass here have strangely forgotten that they have a VOICE after all the pre independence struggle. We need to bring that voice back.