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For example, if you have high-volume, highly distributed processes, you need a different type of governance than required for a one-step, locally run process. In addition, many companies define governance only for their core processes, expecting to extend the effort to other processes eventually. "But, of course, they never do," Olbrich says. "The challenge lies in the fact that governance itself is a process, which, because of its objectives, makes even higher demands on process management than other processes do."

Simply getting started with governance can be challenging as well. For instance, "we know that the average process-reengineering project will require about 40% of project time on [process] discovery, finding out what the current processes are and how they work," Olbrich notes. When you're investing that much effort on documenting where things stand, it can be tough to justify spending even more on governance.


Another common disconnect in BPM governance, in Olbrich's view: the question of authoritative documentation. For example, the documentation for each phase of a process lifecycle frequently involves different content. Design documentation will vary from operations documentation—if the latter even exists, as employees often choose to modify or ignore the methods prescribed in the design phase."We had a case some years ago at a financial institution where we found out during a process audit that 90% of [actual] working practices did not conform to the documented processes," Olbrich says.

Furthermore, audits performed in the Process TestLab indicate that about 92% of tested processes contain logical errors, with an actual average rate of around 120 errors per process, Olbrich says: "That's 120 reasons why a process would not work or cannot be implemented."

Even after those errors have been corrected, when future process-users are allowed to try the process, "this usually leads to the discovery of any number of misunderstandings in the process design," he says.

Unfortunately, in the absence of such rigorous testing, what usually happens is that "these things only come up either during or after implementation, which makes correcting these errors extremely expensive and time consuming," Olbrich says. That can create disillusionment among executives who are unwilling to trust process methods or to invest in topics such as process governance. Likewise, he says, employees may instinctively mistrust any projects involving major change, because they believe, based on past experience, that such efforts don't really provide improvement.


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