Despite the economic situation, investments in BPM tools remain a key priority in many firms. Attracted by their performance-improvement potential, business stakeholders often adopt such tools from inside their functions and fail to recognize the overall impact at the enterprise level. The consequence? Many tool-based initiatives are counterproductive, making already intricate processes even more complex and difficult to support. As costs swell and projects become unmanageable, the responsibility of BPM falls onto the IT’s lap. As recent Forrester Leadership Board (FLB) research on “Driving Value With Process Improvement” illustrates, CIOs must step up to the mark and proactively embrace the responsibility for BPM-tools early in the life-cycle. To succeed, they must leverage their position in the enterprise as they:
Have a unique cross functional view of business processes. CIOs straddle all business units, developing portfolio of services tailored to each business function, and understanding each business users needs and expectations from technology. They are able to view processes which span all business functions, allowing them to disseminate best practices and knowledge, as well as being able to continuously refine processes. CIOs are business executives ideally placed to support the business in its process improvement initiatives.
I haven’t heard much about alignment recently and I wonder if the subject is loosing its appeal. In 2008 SIM spotted IT-business alignment as the No.1 management concern. But during the six major CIO networking events that I attended this year, I haven’t heard much about IT alignment. Scholars and practitioners used the term to describe the strategy process for adjusting technology resources to match business objectives. And year after year CIOs placed it at the top of their list of unsolved issues.
A major challenge related to alignment is its practicality. Even in the relatively stable days of mainframe computing, few organizations, if any, have experienced alignment nirvana — the perfect state of IT-business relationship, free from animosity, anger and other afflictive perceptions. The waves of tech innovation, which followed the mainframe, increased the complexity of the issue. They came fast, required more changes than most organizations could absorb, and created a state of continuous ailment rather than alignment in the IT-business relationship. See June 17, 2007, “Debunking Alignment Nirvana” report.
Here’s another follow-up to our recent jam session on how to use Lean as an opportunity to make real improvement running IT. In a previous post on defining Lean, we addressed cost cutting, reduced planning horizons, consolidation and the quick killing off bad ideas. But we did not discuss whether and how Lean can help innovative CIOs transitioning their firms to Business Technology (see Forrester’s "Five Essential Best Practices For The IT-To-BT Transformation"), instead of focusing on making their IT shops skinnier.
Firms have used Lean for solving different problems. So far the most popular application has been as a process improvement tool, with Kaizen Blitz being similar to other process improvement tools such as Just-In-Time (JIT), Six Sigma, or Total Quality Management (TQM). Executives use them to uncover and implement opportunities to improve lead times, cut waste, and optimize development and provisioning processes. These tools work fine for processes with relatively stable steps and stakeholders, such as incident, problem, change, or release management (see Forrester’s "Applying Lean Thinking To IT").