Archive for the ‘Chief Process Officer’ Tag

Business Process Management needs Business Process Analysts rather than Chief Process Officer

About four years ago when the importance of BPM and process management spread to a wider group companies seeking process excellence, the role of the Chief Process Officer (CPO) emerged as an important senior position in organizations. I was among the many proponents of this new role. The rational was simple. Processes are key to the performance of organizations. BPM enables companies to capture the best practices for processes and use the power of software to execute them consistently while at the same time providing transparency, accountability and visibility. However BPM technology is still relatively complex, there are cultural changes that accompany its adoption which can have a major impact on its success or failure, and this change needs to be marshaled from a high level in the organization. The position of the CPO reporting to the CEO was designed to accomplish this.

At first blush the role of a CPO looks like a good idea. However some further thinking, evaluating my own experiences and recent discussions with BPM customers has made me rethink this approach.  My thinking has evolved because of the following considerations:

i.                     If BPM is as important to an organization the top management of the company including the CEO and functional managers must take the lead and become champions and true believers in a process-focused organization. This important responsibility should be delegated to a new role of a CPO.

 

ii.                   Functional managers must become owners of processes in their departments. Their performance and the performance of their department must be measured by the effectiveness of their processes. Functional managers have the most domain expertise in their area and are in the best position to know the business process requirements that will lead to success.

 

iii.                  If a new role of a CPO is created it will add another department in the organization. This will not only add additional cost, but there is a strong probability that friction will develop between the office of the CPO and other departments in the organization. While the CPO owns processes, or facilitates the development of processes, the BPM system (BPMS) still relies on the IT infrastructure that is owned by IT, and much of the technical expertise to make the BPMS technically successful also most likely resides in IT. Likewise, functional managers have the responsibility for processes in their areas and also the domain expertise to make these processes effective. It does not make sense to make the office of the CPO responsible for processes in different functional areas, and yet have management of the functional areas be measured and rewarded by processes which they do not fully control.

For these reasons I believe that functional managers must own the processes in their departments and must be evaluated and rewarded based on the effectiveness of these processes as measured by KPIs that the organization agrees upon. However, while BPM systems are becoming more powerful, their underlying technology is also becoming more complex.  Functional managers need help from IT to cope with the technical complexity. IT on the other hand does not have the business knowledge necessary to understand the complexities of business. So what the organization needs is a new breed of business analysts who also have sufficient process analysis skills. Let’s call them Business Process Analysts, or BPAs. The BPAs should have the following skills and attributes:

  1.         BPAs should belong to the IT organization and report to the CIO, but they should be    assigned to work with specific functional managers for automating business processes that are vital to the latter’s department.

 

ii.                   BPAs must become the bridge between business (functional mangers) and IT. They should know enough about business that they can understand and empathize with the process requirements of the functional areas they are assigned to. They must also have strong knowledge of IT insofar as their ability to understand the benefits and drawbacks of various technological choices. Empowered with the knowledge of business as well as IT, the BPAs become facilitators of business processes owned by the functional managers. They should be rewarded for the success and effectiveness of the processes they facilitate

 

iii.                  The BPAs serve as the bridge between the functional process owners and IT. As the bridge, they must diplomatically play the role of champions of each side and the developers of compromise in case of conflict between the two.

 

iv.                 BPAs must be trained not only in the modeling of business processes, which is really the activity for documenting business requirements, but also working with the functional managers to optimize resource allocation and the more complex art of process optimization using modern BPM tools.

 

The Business Process Analyst will become a vital role in an organization and in the success of BPM. An educational background that combines business and IT skills will provide an excellent foundation for Business Process Analysts to be successful.