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BPM: Theory to Practice

Tim Huenemann

Process Models - Aligning the High and the Low (Part 2)

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In my last post ( Process Models - Aligning the High and the Low (Part 1) ), I discussed high-level process models and how they are often disconnected from the detailed models that show how work actually gets done.

Why Do We Care?
If your organization is committed at all to taking a process view of the enterprise, any confusion between models is a detriment to success. Now, if your models end up on the shelf and nobody looks at them again, anyway, that's a problem for another day. ;-) Any cross-functional or end-to-end perspective needs to have a clear process architecture, with an understanding of boundaries, roles, inputs and outputs, etc., with high-level models in alignment with detailed models. Otherwise, when you want to make changes, any big picture thinking and planning will lead to a design that doesn't fit with the lower level depiction of how things work.

Improving Alignment
- Have clear owners of process models, ideally with the final accountability being process owners of some sort. And if feasible in your organization, have a top-level governance arrangement that works across process owners. It's not good enough to have ad hoc creation and ownership of models; models will get out-of-date, cross-functional issues will fester, and there will be little push to align things.

- Institute a centralized means for model management - a way to catalog, review, and synchronize all the process models. Even if you don't have a centralized process group that creates and maintains models and provides BPM expertise, you can institute policy and process to accomplish these results. Rein in rogue process models.

- Build communication and a culture that enables alignment. Communicate and reinforce the need for the high and the low to be in sync. Help staff and project teams get access to all existing models, and make it easy for them to work with other groups to reconcile their models.

- Decide which models are "official" and how they become official. Some models are used to truly represent the enterprise and how things work. They are relied on for decision-making and communication. These models should be managed and kept in sync as described above. However, there are usually plenty of miscellaneous diagrams and flowcharts created as people work through ideas and issues. Don't overburden this work by adding unneeded bureaucracy to work-in-process artifacts. Just make sure that when a model is to be the basis for any substantial decisions, procedural changes, etc., it is promoted to "official" and given the necessary rigor.

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This blog offers a true “practitioner’s perspective,” with issues and commentary based on real-world experience across many industries.

Tim Huenemann

Tim Huenemann is the senior principal for business architecture and process management at Trexin Consulting. He has more than 20 years of experience in process management and business-focused IT. In his consulting work, he helps organizations execute business strategy by implementing effective process management and IT solutions. He regularly translates BPM theory into practice, and practice, and more practice. Contact Tim at tim.huenemann[at]trexin.com.

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