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What is the Office of Business Process Management?


Organizations must always search for new ways to improve customer1 service, seize opportunities, increase productivity, enhance resource usage, increase flexibility and adapt to change. New approaches to business process management (BPM) enable such outcomes.

In every organization there are many circumstances where time, money and goodwill are wasted. It feels like we are driving with the brakes on, that there is sand in the gears. What we want is a smooth flow of activities and information. We want work to be done in creative and innovative ways. We want a framework to support the innate desire of people to improve the way they work as individuals and as team members. We want process-based management.

The BPM management philosophy is summarized as follows:

Business processes are the collections of cross-functional activities that deliver value to an organization’s external customers and other stakeholders. They are the only way that any organization can deliver such value. Individual organizational functional areas cannot, by themselves, deliver value to external customers. It follows that an organization executes its strategic intent via its business processes. Business processes are the conduits through which value is exchanged between customers and the organization. Therefore, business processes need to be thoughtfully managed and continuously improved to maintain an unimpeded flow of value to customers and other stakeholders.

Increasingly, organizations demonstrating performance leadership are adopting a process-based management approach. Business process analysis and improvement is also fundamental to e-services transformation. Using IT facilities to streamline services can only be achieved with a sound understanding of the related business processes and their effective

The Office of BPM is an important mechanism that has been widely adopted to coordinate BPM initiatives and perpetuate the benefits throughout the organization. It has these responsibilities:

  1. to provide a strategic, customer-value view of the organization
  2. to facilitate the continuous improvement of business processes
  3. to nurture innovation in process improvement
  4. to coordinate process improvement activities via a portfolio management approach
  5. to track the benefits delivered from process improvement and management initiatives
  6. to define and maintain methods and tools and support their use in all BPM initiatives
  7. to support change management activities in relation to process improvement projects
  8. to provide an internal BPM research and analysis resource for the organization
  9. to support the use of BPM Systems and other process related technology
  10. to share process-related knowledge and successful BPM

We suggest three areas of Office activity. Process management provides resources for sustaining process-based management in the organization. Office support relates to management of the Office itself. Process improvement provides resources for process improvement projects. Process management and Office support are central business – the “brains” of the Office. Process improvement, the “arms”, may be provided by the Office or come from operational business units.

For this reason, we recommend that process management and Office support be centrally funded to secure the common business of the Office and that process improvement be funded by the projects. Where core funding is not assured, the Office of BPM staff may be compelled waste time searching for funding from projects. In any funding model, careful attention needs to be paid to the ongoing ROI for the Office.

There are three styles of Office operation across a spectrum trading off intervention for influence:

  • directing
  • coaching and
  • serving.

A directing Office exercises authority to enforce BPM compliance.

Serving offices seek to influence outcomes but without the power to insist.

A coaching Office recognizes that business unit volunteers are likely to achieve better and more sustainable results than those forced to adopt BPM approaches. This mode will take time to achieve as the Office capabilities develop and the BPM maturity of the organization increases.

The Office is the steward of the methodologies, a source of advice and guidance, a coordination point for all process work, a scorekeeper and a compliance manager. Its role will change over time. In an organization that is new to process management, we can expect the Office of BPM to play a large role. As the level of BPM maturity increases, business units will be able to undertake process initiatives with little support from the Office.

One measure of success for an Office of BPM will be the level of process analysis, redesign and management capabilities the rest of the organization develops, and the frequency and effectiveness with which those capabilities are used. The Office of BPM is an internal service- provider to the rest of the organization. Over time, the most important service it will provide is to develop BPM capabilities throughout the organization, creating a process-centric culture that leads to innovative service delivery to external customers and other stakeholders.

Other “offices” may exist in a modern organization – for example, Office of Strategy Management and Project Management Office. There are many aspects to organizational management, and while we see process management as the central management tenet, it is not alone – the Office of BPM must integrate with the complete management portfolio. The Office of BPM is an internal service-provider that needs to integrate with other management services.

The establishment of an Office of BPM is a global trend. Organizations with such a facility benefit from clearer and more tangible results from their BPM initiatives and better process- based management, resulting in better performance overall.


1 The term ”customer’ is used in a general sense to indicate any person or group receiving value from a process.

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