The Business/Process/IT Partnership (Your Secret Ingredient For Process Transformation Success)

Over the past 20 years, I’ve been involved in many process initiatives, working closely with business and IT execs. And I’ve seen some efforts work while others go south. But it’s only this year that I so clearly understood why some organizations zoom ahead in process transformation while others stumble, go in circles, or abandon the chase. My own big “ah-ha” moment came at a big business process excellence event in 2012, when I looked across an audience of 500-600 process practitioners and realized there were very, very few CIOs, IT leaders, or even technologists in attendance. Then I remembered some past technology events when my references to process technologies, techniques, or methodologies drew blank stares. Why was that? It was because few process experts were in the room! That made me start wondering — what’s wrong with this picture?

More and more senior execs are embarking on business process transformation. These new changes are catalyzed by many things: new business models made imperative by a new market leader, new threats or opportunities because of rapid changes in technology, a much more customer-centric business strategy, aggressive global expansion plans, or something else. As a result, many organizations are working to become process-driven by 2020.

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Calling All Chief Process Officers!

In early 2013, I plan to continue researching the business/IT partnership for process transformation by . . .  interviewing Chief Process Officers. I’ve only met two honest-to-goodness officially titled Chief Process Officers, although I’ve heard rumors of more, and I've talked with many who have that responsibility. If you are a CPO or know someone who would like to talk on or off the record, please send a note to Many thanks!

You may be wondering, what is a Chief Process Officer? My working definition is:

A chief process officer (CPO) is the senior-most executive reporting to the board of directors, CEO, or COO with responsibility for an enterprise’s business process transformation and continuous improvement initiative. The CPO works with executive counterparts to develop strategic goals and objectives for process transformation in alignment with the business strategy; identify 5-6 cross-functional processes for transformation; and identify business outcomes (based on the customer’s outside-in perspective on processes). The CPO oversees process governance, methodologies, training, and change management and helps other process owners within business functions. The CPO may have more than one title and one set of responsibilities.

Some reasons why CPOs are as hard to find as unicorns may be:

  • Most companies have not yet embarked on strategic business process transformation.
  • Senior executives (including CEOs and COOs) are doing this job already without the CPO title.
  • Other titles compete, like Business Architect, Sr. VP of Business Optimization, and Sr. VP of Process Improvement.
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Bring Your Own Technology: The Lines Between Work And Personal Technology Are Blurring

Bring-your-own-technology (BYOT) is no longer driven by do-it-yourselfers choosing their own devices for work — instead, a rapidly growing population of workers across industries and regions is embracing a wide spectrum of bring your own “fill-in-the-blank.” BYOT now spans hardware, platforms, and apps, plus cloud services like storage and collaboration.

Just how big is this trend? According to Forrester's Forrsights Workforce Employee Survey, Q4 2011, of nearly 10,000 workers worldwide, 53% bring their own technology for work. The rapid growth of mobile BYOT devices within business is reminiscent of Web adoption during the mid-1990s. After early handwringing and resistance, followed by rapid growth and innovation, the Web emerged as an indispensable tool. No one thinks twice now about using the Web for work. BYOT will follow a similar pattern.

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Want To Transform Your Business Processes? Get To A Single Version Of The Process

Most of us understand the criticality of creating and maintaining a single version of the truth for business data. We “get” the problem instinctively because so often, as individual consumers, we are the victims of disjointed, inaccurate, siloed information. To operate effectively, businesses must have trusted data that provides a 360-degree view of the customer and a comprehensive, accurate view of product information. This need has driven many companies to invest in master data management (MDM) and has even fueled the acquisition of MDM software by BPMS vendors who have a vision for how process and data technologies can work together.

As my colleagues have noted in other research reports, a single version of the truth for data helps companies:

  1. Deliver a consistent and reliable experience across multiple communication channels — such as voice, email, chat, and social channels.
  2. Optimize customer-facing processes such as contact management, customer segmentation, and campaign management using trusted customer, transaction, and third-party data.
  3. Deliver product information management for merchandising.
  4. Maintain an official system of record for employees. 
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Use Your Creativity To Find Sources Of Innovation

I’ve just participated in two webinars about innovation.  Claire Schooley and I hosted How To Foster, Manage, And Sustain Innovation. And Forrester alumnus, Navi Radjou, who is now with the Center for Creative Leadership and author of  Jugaad Innovation just gave a webinar on that topic. Navi talked about “doing more with less”—a big concept sweeping through emerging markets like India and Brazil.  Navi argues that improvised ingenuity has taken a backseat to structured innovation, leading to high R&D costs and stifled creativity.  And he took a swing at Six Sigma, arguing that it gets 99.999% sameness, or “better sameness” in Forrester’s view.

Forrester defines innovation as:

the transformation of a business process, market offering, or business model to boost value and impact for the enterprise, customers, or partners.

It’s time to think creatively about ideas for innovation. Look to:

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Women IT Execs Share Insights On Leadership And Risk Taking

Next week at IBM’s Innovate Conference I'll moderate a panel of highly accomplished women executives who will talk about their personal leadership mindset when taking business risks.  The panelists are:

- Cheryl Allison, Director, Raytheon Network Centric Systems

- Ellen Daley, Managing Director, Forrester Research

- Gina Poole, Vice President, IBM Rational Software

- Meg Selfe, Vice President, IBM Rational Software

- Karla Wallace, Senior Manager, General Motors

Note that Forrester’s Ellen Daley will be one of the panelists, joining this impressive group of women execs in IT. If you can’t catch us live at the conference (Tuesday, June 5th at 3:00 PM Eastern), then I hope you’ll join through streaming video ( and Twitter at #ibminnovatewp.

Many people wonder: why offer a panel specifically for women—why not men too?  Good question. Men are just as interested in risk taking and leadership as women, so they are invited to participate in the panel and discussion on the Web and Twitter.

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Changing Wheels While Still In The Race . . . Lessons Learned From Process Excellence

I’m at IQPC's Financial Services conference in New York listening to Brenton Harder, MD and head of operational excellence at Credit Suisse. He's clearly got a lot of experience under his belt that is worth sharing. Here are some BPM lessons learned based on his experience working in multiple businesses:

  1. Businesses must move from static BPM to a dynamic community with a clear customer focus. He believes BPM practitioners need to own the customer experience and even become chief customer officers. He also thinks “outside in” BPM hasn’t been customer-centric enough. Focusing on the customer requires more than thinking about inputs and outputs to a process; instead, it involves really digging in and understanding the end-to-end business process from the customer’s vantage.
  2. Continuous improvement, or Kaizen, is fundamentally sound, but sometimes you must go faster than that. For example, in financial services, regulatory requirements are moving faster than ever, and customer expectations are increasing at a faster pace, requiring process experts to move faster than most continuous improvement methodologies and tools support.
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Gotcha’s In Change Management For Business Process Improvement

IQPC’s Process Excellence for Financial Services conference just got to one of my favorite topics — change management. The more I work in process transformation, the more I realize that change management is absolutely crucial for determining success or failure. Also, driving innovation and sustaining a culture of innovation is closely linked to how well the organization does change management.

The panelists include:

  • Karl Friedman, coaching/training lead, Allstate Insurance Co.
  • Larry Duckworth, COO, The Quality Group.
  • Christopher Gaver, vice president, service excellence, Prudential.
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Live From New York — Process Excellence For Financial Services

Today I’ve had the opportunity to speak at and attend a conference about Business Process Management for financial services.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • Process practitioners and BPM practitioners are still discovering each other. Although these two types of people are passionate about improving and transforming processes, they invariably come from different backgrounds and practices. Process practitioners typically have Six Sigma black belts and/or practice Lean, and they usually report into business operations or some C-suite business executive. Often, process practitioners do not have any experience in, knowledge about, and interest in BPM software. Conversely, many BPM practitioners work in IT, may report to a director of BPM or the CIO, and have found BPM software to be a powerful way to “modernize” IT and automate improved processes. These two kinds of people desperately need to meet each other, join forces and learn from one another, and ultimately end up in a BPM Center of Excellence together. Usually process practitioners get nervous whenever software creeps into the discussion, but this conference is different. It’s great to see both types of practitioners sharing experiences and figuring out how to work together in the future.
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Don’t Miss The Transformation Boat When Modernizing IT

I recently got a briefing from HCL about its Business Process Management practice, and we are hosting a joint webinar on April 4th.  The briefing was impressive in that HCL is focused on large scale business transformation projects — what we call Big Process. When we got to the following slide, the wheels in my head started turning.



This graphic depicts how IT is modernizing IT infrastructure to include BPM, enterprise content management (ECM) collaboration, and social to expand the IT architecture beyond enterprise suites — like ERP and CRM — which are systems of record rather than systems of engagement. This IT legacy renewal is powerful, and, by focusing on technologies that support systems of engagement, it will position the business to support customers in new and exciting ways and to be more creative and collaborative throughout the organization. In fact, I recently talked with an executive from Pegasystems about the same thing, and he said virtually all of its customers are focused on modernization.

During our discussion, I asked HCL if IT modernization works, and they said yes, it works especially well when there is a corresponding top-down business transformation exercise providing the context and justification for bottom-up IT modernization. In the rest of the cases, where it’s more from the bottom up than the top down, IT modernization stutters along due to lack of business case and funding. 

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