You could be forgiven for thinking that some conversations among the processerati have more to do with cliché management than process management. Our language can be obscure and our meanings cloaked in layers of obfuscation. If we are to achieve the levels of organizational performance breakthrough that we know are possible via process-based management, we need to pick up our game.
BPM governance is an area where we need more clarity and simplicity. Let’s walk through what I think is meant by “BPM governance” and how it can be achieved in a pragmatic way.
A dictionary will tell us that governance is “a system or manner of government.” Not very useful. A thesaurus will offer synonyms such as supremacy, ascendancy, domination, power, authority, and control. It might be the last if we get it right. It’s certainly none of the others
Paul Harmon usefully suggests that “Governance is the organization of management. It refers to the goals, principles, organization charts that define who can make what decisions, as well as the policies and rules that define or constrain what managers can do.”
Here are some key considerations in designing and delivering effective BPM governance:
- Create, communicate, and agree to a vision for effective BPM governance.
- Generate and sustain urgency around the compelling reasons for implementing BPM governance.
- Identify the business processes of the enterprise in a hierarchical enterprise process model – completing the highest two or three levels is a good start.
- Agree how the performance of each process will be measured, making sure that the measures are aligned, objective, and quantifiable. Be sure to have a reasonable measurement method for each measure. Determine current performance levels and future targets.
- Decide who will be accountable for responding to poor performance (or trends towards poor performance). These are the Process Owners, and they can be anywhere except in the Process Office. Process Owners must be of the business and in the business.
- Design and implement process performance reporting systems, making it clear to whom each Process Owner is accountable.
- Clearly define and communicate the Process Owner role, making clear the mandate, relationships, and constraints.
- Support Process Owners with training, coaching, and accurate, timely performance information.
- Create a Process Office (or effective equivalent) to support Process Owners (and others involved in process work).
- Convene a Process Council (or equivalent) to provide a mechanism for Process Owners to share their experiences and issues
The steps are easy to write down and are likely to be hard to do. However, effective BPM governance is what makes process-based management possible.