2012 is coming to a close and I’m taking stock of my BPM experiences with clients over the past 365 days. After reviewing my notes and files, the theme of governance showed up again and again as the most challenging problem or previous project failure.
All this made me want to dig a little deeper and ask, “Why?” I think I’ve come up with the answer — most of the other parts of process management are easy, but governance is really, really hard. Really hard.
Easy parts done well
Process capture turns out to be easy. I led or organized process authoring training in seven states and three countries in the last year. My clients were business people from functional areas that included IT, HR, legal, finance, marketing, sales, engineering, supply chain.
In every case, business people were able to “draw” relatively clear processes by the end of the first morning. Mapping was creative and straight-forward.
Other key ingredients were also generally easy to obtain. For example, here is the recipe for a healthy BPM project:
- An executive owner: This is key to any effort, BPM or otherwise
- One or more trained facilitators: Most organizations I worked with already had well trained facilitators.
- Process improvement experts: Again, most organizations already had these
- Subject Matter Experts: Always nearby, often busy but they showed up.
- Automation Experts and developers: Not always in touch with the business, but their role wasn’t as front-loaded
This mix of talent wasn’t a problem for most large organizations.
Hitting the wall
We hit the wall when we approached the topic of who owns process versus who performs it, who can change it and the method for change and execution of changes. Everyone agreed that it was critical, but shoulders shrugged and people often fell silent when it came time to map the change and approval process.
But how long can the positive effects of better BPM last without governance? Easy question: Not long. Anyone who works in Finance knows the rigors of a contract approval processes. Anyone in HR knows the clear authority picture for discipline, bonuses, hiring and firing. But when it comes to day-to-day process in core parts of the business, we’ve never quite given governance its due.
Perhaps 2013 can be the Year of BPM Governance?