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Editor's note: In this Q & A, Forrester Research Principal Analyst Derek Miers talks with ebizQ's Peter Schooff about the growth of business process governance and offers tips for those interested in adding it to their BPM programs and initiatives. This Q & A was excerpted from a more in-depth ebizQ podcast. It has been edited for length, clarity and editorial style.

ebizQ: Process governance has come to prominence lately, but it seems as if most people have only a vague idea of what it is. How would you define process governance?

Derek Miers: "Process governance" is an interesting term. I think what people are struggling with is governance of a process or improvement initiative, in terms of how it is set up and rooted in the organization appropriately. What is its charter? How does it operate compared to the traditional lines of business? Because in the end, these business-improvement initiatives are affecting not only just the order of activities, but the organizational structures, the reporting lines, the ways in which people earn their bonuses. The whole shooting match really gets called in.

Now in terms of defining it: It comes down to setting the sort of decision-making context for how an initiative is going to be set up: Who owns it and how does it report in? Who's going to sponsor it? Where is it positioned in the organization? How is it budgeted? How is it directed? How is it going to engage the different business units or lines of business?

Typically, you find that people are heading towards a center of expertise or center of excellence [(CoE)] approach…These [questions] become issues for how that CoE is mandated—how it's prioritized, what quality of service it's going to deliver, what sort of services it's going to deliver. [Those are big questions] because organizations really aren't used to having a unit like this, which changes the way things happen.

ebizQ: The question it clearly follows, then, is: Why do companies need process governance? What benefits do they derive from it?

Miers: [Without governance,] you run the risk of the initiative becoming just a couple of disconnected projects that fall by the wayside as the management attention wanes…Yes, an executive might give you sponsorship of your project. But when it comes to resolving the political challenges of affecting the sort of changes that need to be made, often you need [governance] to make it happen…Without it, the initiative is likely to falter and fall away…Without governance set up properly, you're going to be into deep trouble.


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