During Forrester’s most recent 2010 Global Business Process Improvement Online Survey of 141 companies we identified three types of organizations: a) organizations in which the process improvement team works separately from IT (to the extent they operate entirely independently); b) organizations where IT leads the improvement program and c) organizations where the process improvement team operates independently, but works closely with IT.
I have two questions to you:
Which of these three types is more mature from a governance point of view a, b, or c?
For the type you think to be most mature, who is responsible, accountable, contributing and informed (RACI) for making process improvement decisions?
We have a lot of discussions about the role of business process management (BPM) in enterprise management these days. I believe that BPM has no meaning without a variety of tools, such as process models, rules engines, activity monitors and business analytics. But I also think that BPM initiatives cannot succeed without deliberate governance. Formal governance ensures that BPM focuses on the sustainability of enterprise processes rather than application of individual technologies.
Visual management is of particular interest in this context, as the following example shows. You certainly remember Forrester’s Lean Business Technology maturity for BPM governance matrix. Transformed into as a multi-choice questionnaire the matrix becomes a powerful governance tool. Business process executives can use this tool to identify the constraints that hamper BPM in the enterprise and determine where to improve next and why. The following Figure illustrates the results of a real business assessment, where we used the matrix.
I recently completed an interview with the VP of patient management for a large healthcare organization. When introducing herself, she said that her responsiblity is “connecting the dots”. I asked her what kind of dots, and she said “We have a software application for everything we do -- I must get them talking to each other and this is a challenge.” I asked her what the role of IT. Her answer was “they do a good job of maintaining the applications, but not so much on cross-functional processes”.
Is this an unusual situation? Obviously not. A recent Forrester survey of 141 organizations shows that in 78% of organizations business executives -- not IT -- drive process improvement initiatives. I assume that most of these initiatives are about “connecting the dots”.
I think that IT decision-makers can do a lot more to improve business processes, in particular cross-functional processes. Acting as agents of process improvement, they need to re-focus their teams from supporting tech platforms to optimizing cross-functional processes. As one of these change-agents pointed out in a recent interview “ No single functional department owns end-to-end order-to-cash. IT can help a company see something that is hard to see”. (see this report)
Working with several IT decision-makers, I developed a few recommendations for change-agents who aim to increase the business orientation and efficiency of their organizations:
Focus on business enablement through service orientation
Our latest featured podcasts are Alex Peters' and Connie Moore's "Business Process Pros Hold the Key To Business Transformation".
In this two part podcast, BP&A Principal Analyst Alex Peters and BP&A Research Director Connie Moore discuss what Business Technology transformation is, who drives it inside the organization, and the role of the process pro in Business Technology transformations.
We look forward to your questions and comments.
Subscribe to Business Process & Applications podcasts through iTunes.