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How do you achieve the right balance of governance for BPM?

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Too little governance and your BPM lacks oversight, too much and you risk paralysis, so how do enterprises achieve the right amount of BPM governance?

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  • The simple answer is that ownership must be clear for things to be created, changed and communicated. The trick, then, becomes automating the workflow around that change so that governance isn't paralyzing. I've watched companies moving rapidly once they realize the importance of ownership within the business and a governance plan that relies on technology to resolve what would otherwise be very difficult governance.

    It takes time to get started, but once up and running is a thing of beauty. The alternative is content in the hands of process experts, not in the hands of true process owners, and stale and ignored information.

  • If an organization really adopts process management, BPM governance becomes a major part of MANAGEMENT, period, and like Christopher said, that belongs with the business.

    I tend to advise starting on the side of too much control, and then ease off bit-by-bit as an organization learns better how they want to work and what can be relaxed without too much risk.

  • A "Workflow Change Workflow" is a must have best practice and should be the first workflow implemented. This ensures that all stakeholders know about the changes being proposed and get to participate in the approval or otherwise of the changes.

  • During a keynote at the Forrester Business Process Forum the presenter talked about how inside every iPhone there are components coming from 76 or so different suppliers. Yet your iPhone looks so simple even my 3 and a half year old could make sense of it. The trick with complex systems like governance is that they should be hidden from the end users to make them feel like they couldn't do anything wrong - which is the only path to play and experimentation, so critical in rolling out change.

    How do you achieve the right balance? Hide the complexity associated with a governance initiative and this can only be achieved if governance is built in to your BPM implementation as opposed to an afterthought. For a more in depth analysis of BPM governance, check out this blog.

  • In order to increase your chances of achieving the right balance, I recommend following the "CUSP" principle for defining the BPM governance model.

    C = Complete
    U = Understandable
    S = Sustainable
    P = Pragmatic

    Make sure your governance model is complete. As a guide, look at the People, Process, Technology, and Asset aspects of governance and ensure they are all addressed. In my experience most BPM governance models focus more on the Technology and Process aspects, followed closely by Assets, with the People aspect being a distant fourth. Given that BPM is often the driver for change and transformation in an organization, the People aspects should be at least equally important, if not more important.

    Making your governance model easily understandable by people at different levels is critical to success. Governance policies and their rationale needs to be easily and consistently understood and communicated. If you have to repeat the rationale or relevance of a policy too many times, you need to either make it more understandable or do away with it altogether.

    The governance model must be sustainable. Complex governance policies and processes often require a lot of effort to implement and maintain - not sustainable in the longer term. Consider the value-add of every policy and every step in the process. If it does not add value, it is not required and should be eliminated (think Lean). It is essential that you have a clear, concise and consistent understanding of the governance principles before you can do this.

    Be pragmatic. Policies should be reviewed regularly. If there are too many exceptions to a policy (approved or otherwise), it probably needs to be changed, instead of being enforced more stringently. Remember, governance is for getting the most out of BPM for the enterprise and not getting the most out of the enterprise for BPM.

  • I learned in some interactions I had in past months with C level executives that due constants change in market conditions, here you need to deploy value to the market at the speed of light, does not pair well with classical governance, center of excellence, call what you want, because these approaches are too slow to make decisions.

    The approach will be more project oriented, where teams have more freedom to accomplish results dictated by strategy initiatives. People will have to dedicate to study business impact of changes they want to introduce, rather than having someone that tells them what to do.

    CIO's will need to adapt also, instead of taking care of systems they will need also to understand the kind of business industry they are get into. Particularly if the enterprise is opening new business units selling or providing services never done in the past.

    This may contradict everything about government foundations, but today is some industries speed is everything, the key is to assemble a team with the best resources and let them do it. In the end they will judged by the results. Control will still exist and will be run in the background by the board.

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