Is there a need for a BPM Authority in your organization?

Context

Organizations require technology solutions to automate many of their operational processes to generate efficiency and to provide a better customer experience. And most companies do acquire or build solutions that meet the purpose. But as the organizations grow larger and start investing in technology, most of them do not invest in the methodology and governance required to keep the stack lean and efficient. Most organizations would have solutions from multiple vendors that delivers the same or similar outputs, while many would have enough governance to review this but not enough muscle to control duplication of solutions. In a few organizations where governance and control both exists, there may not be enough skills to link this with a business process management (BPM) methodology to achieve more efficiency.

Visible cracks due to non-existence of BPM culture

Most organizations tend to display very visible characteristics of a non-BPM culture. Firstly, either there is no clear strategy for the technology and automation landscape at all or the strategy is so vague that employees at all levels will be unaware of what the strategy is all about. Secondly, there is no clarity and / or control as to how the solutions will be delivered; multiple siloed teams are made responsible for delivering similar solutions, which in most cases results in fight for control and taking credit for successes. Thirdly, the investment in infrastructure becomes huge and unmanageable as business volumes start to scale up, especially when investments are made to non-viable or non-critical processes. Therefore, there is absolutely a need for creating a BPM Authority in organizations.

Key outcomes expected from the BPM Authority:

  • Well-defined ownership of end-to-end processes across key business areas in the organization
  • Robust governing body consisting of senior Process Owners of important process areas
  • Exhaustive mapping of all business processes to their corresponding infrastructure / technology via the process library
  • Clear sponsorship and funding model for the functioning of BPM Authority as well as the BPM projects executed on an ongoing basis
  • Shared costs for project resources and technology acquisition / maintenance

Approach to set up a BPM Authority

Irrespective of the organization size, it is possible to constitute an authority that can help achieve a balance in the three areas of strategy, delivery and infrastructure for automating business processes in the organization. Salient features and responsibilities of these three areas are as below:

1:  Establishing a clear strategy

  • Defining business goals, long term plan for automation, KPIs for BPM initiatives across the organization.
  • Creating an effective communication plan to spread awareness of the BPM strategy across all levels of the organization
  • Agreeing on the structure and responsibilities of the BPM Authority, its connectivity to other governance authorities in the organisation and a funding model for managing the BPM Authority
  • Agreeing on the funding and operating model for running individual BPM initiatives
  • Setting up a central library for all business processes and infrastructure in the organization

2: Delivering the BPM strategy

  • Identifying people for the BPM Authority governing body and support staff
  • Setting up a utility of reliable resources for initiation and execution of individual BPM projects
  • Defining and updating reference models for best practices, guidelines, and reviews
  • Providing operational support for running the BPM solutions in BAU mode
  • Creating a talent pool of BPM experts, starting from recruitment through to enablement and retention

3: Setting up infrastructure for delivering BPM solutions

  • Agreeing on an application governance compatible with the BPM Authority
  • Achieving scalability of solutions to optimize investments and yet meet future requirements of resources and performance from solutions
  • Ensuring enhanced security and protection of data and processes, keeping them safe from external and internal threats
  • Creating a resilient infrastructure for reducing downtime and recovery of solutions

Challenges in setting up a BPM Authority:

  • Absolute control on investment by technology departments
  • Resistance from individuals to take on ownership of cross-functional processes
  • In-fighting to take credit for initial successes
  • Prioritization of investment in only some processes / areas by influential stakeholders

Overcoming challenges:

It is not easy to set up a fully functional and well-oiled machinery for running the BPM authority. It requires a change in mindset at all levels of the organization to adopt this culture. In many organizations, this change in mindset begins to happen only when they in dire straits – like regulatory issues or huge losses.  However, with proper direction from senior leadership in the organization, supported by a change leader from within or outside the organization, and some investment in training and certification for the employees, it is possible to quickly enable and embed the BPM culture in a reasonably quick time.

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