There are any number of ways to sell digitally based process (BPM) efforts to management, but I have found that linking BPM to something management has on its’ plate as a challenge is the best way. Search for the best benefit stream.
If it’s a better user experience, show that BPM can help by surrounding old transactions. If it’s better revenue opportunities by attracting and new prospects, leverage BPM to show customer journeys that would attract. If it’s operational improvement, use BPM dashboards and process intelligence to show opportunities for improvement .If it is governance monitoring and enforcement, show management how BPM can be leveraged to watch and guide the right behavior. After the first success, incrementally use it in a larger context or for a more complex problem. I have seen this approach work where there is little executive vision and support to win to live another day until an executive gets how BPM is beneficial and reliable for fast changing conditions.
If you are lucky enough to have a high level visionary, then ask that visionary for a chance to educate the rest of the folks and start with a meatier and larger scoped effort. Back this visionary with education, usually from an outside source, and great results. If the rest of the executive team rejects the idea, then make the visionary a hero with a set of projects that has significant impact. This works as well, but the risk level is higher. A digital transformation program is an ideal umbrella cover for BPM.
There are many ways of winning management, despite swimming upstream with political debris floating your way. If you can find a visionary, leverage that situation otherwise, win each little battle until it delivers an overall victory. Keep in mind that there are many process and case types and apply the right process style to the right problem. BPM supports easy to use and change delivery that can be leveraged quickly to show the change resistant that BPM works. Sand-boxing and incremental delivery seems to help either a bottom up or a top down BPM effort. I have personally used both in each kind of BPM program with good success.