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What is the key to successful BPM governance?

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What is the key to successful BPM governance?

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  • Easy...automation. Any organization trying to govern process by hand is faced with a soul-sucking amount of work to keep track of who owns what, stakeholders, reviews, promotion of new process, etc. One of the single greatest failings in the BPM space (if not THE greatest) is doing this manually.

    From SharePoint on one end to more complex products like Nimbus Control (where I worked until recently), there are tools that automate governance. Not using them is wasteful and kills the spirit of an organization awash in change.

  • I'm going to counter Chris and say 'people'.
    People are the key to successful BPM governance. Automate what you like but unless the person at the other end understands what it is they are to do with the information it's pointless.

    To paraphrase V: "People should not be afraid of governance. Governance should be afraid of people."

    Get the right people in the right place first, automate after.

  • I suggest that they are both correct, each in their own way. The KEY to successful BPM governance, in my opinion, is recognizing that success in this arena can only be realized when one adeptly manages the pillars of Goals, Processes, Service Delivery, and overarching Policies/Rules. The latter may be corporate, regulatory, or both.

    These pillars support success in BPM initiatives. While there may be others in a given situation or solution, it is likely impossible to be successful if you eliminate or ignore even one of those basic pillars. If you ignore more than one, failure is all but guaranteed. To Theo's point, the people are represented in the Processes and Service Delivery pillars. The integrated management of the pillars in an automated manner serves Christopher's point.

  • Peter,

    Great question. Because while there are important and interesting BPM technology questions, the BPM business question is the key to unlocking any BPM technology potential.

    So my answer to the question on "successful BPM governance" is just "governance", or perhaps "process governance". I'm not trying to be clever here, but rather am highlighting the question of business ownership and management of processes.

    I've been a BPM-oriented technology sales person for almost 10 years, representing both proprietary and opensource vendors. And what I've learned is that the key for customer success around a BPM project is "process governance". This key means that the host organization has in place end-to-end ownership and control of a process, even and especially if the process is cross-functional. Of course the most interesting processes, with the most compelling use cases, are going to be cross-functional!

    Cross-functional processes may have technical challenges (interface reliability, conflicting data definitions, unclear process definitions etc.), but the biggest challenge is sometimes finding a business owner to step up! All the business analysts in the world, and the nicest BPMN diagrams, don't matter at all if you don't have an executive sponsor to "orchestrate" management buy-in.

    Take a procure-to-pay process -- where the wonderful benefits to an organization may include higher reliability on deliver, lower spend, and lower working capital. Such a process in a manufacturing environment likely involves manufacturing, marketing and sales (i.e. for demand forecasting), procurement, treasury (for payment scheduling, terms and financing), IT (for B2B), logistics etc. It can be like "herding cats"!

    As so many IT commentators have emphasized, having executive sponsorship for any project is key. But it is especially true for BPM. I like to emphasize the unique nature of BPM. BPM is "the technology about the work of business" in a way that no other technology is, except perhaps ERP. But BPM ultimately is directly about building core technological artifacts that help you do your work. From this perspective then, there is a certain identity between BPM and organization. From this perspective it's easier to imagine then that "BPM governance" is the same thing as "business governance". We can call it "process governance" to be a little more specific.

    Twitter: JohnHMorris

  • The governance challenge is in 2 parts;
    - getting content under governance
    - keeping it that way

    Getting it governed is hard. It is about a single repository of process knowledge that everyone has access to with a governance framework around it

    Keeping it governed is even harder. That is about making sure that it is easy for people to make changes within the governance framework - but care enough about the content to be bothered.

    In this BAE Systems Shared Services video, they explain it far better than I could


  • Todd has a great point it is a combination of both people and automation. I would tend to focus on the people. The problem most organizations are going to face when it comes to governance is when you make it too restrictive and full of red tape issues. When you do that the people are going to bypass your best plans to implement and have good governance. As such you need to focus on the people and how they do business, how do they work, what tools do they use etc. Once you do this and you have a user focused plan and process it is best to automate that to improve effectiveness, efficiency and auditability.

  • user-pic

    The challenge to the question is "the key". There are several keys to successful BPM governance, but if I have to distill it down to one, it would be metrics. How will I measure BPM success and once I identify the key metrics, monitor the results and adjust the BPM projects and programs appropriately.

  • Empowerment. No power, no "teeth," no governance. Most damage I've ever done on a client's behalf was as the lead architect on their ECM/BPM COE having full sponsorship and backing of senior management. Sh^t got done and got done right.

  • A BPM project involves engagement with people that do the job. Quick build with them to deliver an optimal digitised solution with automation where possible becomes a sustainable process. "Agility" is important in build for feed back and for future change. The process then “belongs” to the business users but knowledge belongs to the business!
    Governance is achieved by real time measurement and audit trails of activity. What you want to achieve is a feeling of empowering the users that do the job and encourage further involvement as circumstances change.

  • After reading the comments, it occurs to me that the concept of BPM (Business Process Management) governance doesn't have a common definition. I agree however, that technology is NOT the answer.

    I'm coming at this from the perspective that BPM governance means the control/oversight, eventually, of all of an organizations operation since the "processes" are the business.

    With that in mind, I would suggest that the "Key" to BPM governance is that it happens at the Executive Level of an organization. I realize this isn't the easy answer, but the fact that this doesn't happen in organizations is fundamentally the reason there's a struggle with it happening successfully. Until the executives realize that Business Process is their Business, there can't be true governance of the processes. With the assumption that BPM governance means the governance of the organization, I submit the following comments.

    Successful governance is a combination of components just as process itself is a combination of "things". For example, if I'm trying to build a vehicle, I can build an engine, transmission, carburettor, etc. but if I don't understand the overall plan for the vehicle, then the vehicle will never function properly. To be able to build a functional "vehicle" I have to know, for example, if I'm building a Ferrari or a Land Rover, which includes the plans/blueprint and the vision, mission, business drivers, strategies, tactics, goals, objectives, KPI's, critical success factors (CSFs), and metrics. I also need to establish the quality standards for that vehicle, a responsible party (someone who is measured based on the successful creation of the vehicle), a well defined process for building the vehicle, resources with the appropriate skills and capabilities, correct materials, and equipment for manufacturing the vehicle. To bring all of this together, I basically need a process for the Process, People and Technology (Data & Applications). This is the dilemma faced by organizations addressing the BPM governance issue. In addition, all of the supporting and managing processes must be governed as part of the overall approach.

    If all of this sounds like the basic structure for operating a successful business, it is. That's the basic problem. Few people really understand what process represents and what BPM (Business Process Management) really implies.

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