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Business Process Execution: The Art of Managing Business Processes

by David Mainville on

Having well-defined business processes is essential, but what truly matters is how well you manage them. The art of effective process management requires skillfully weaving together ownership, accountability, implementation, execution, and oversight to create a tapestry of success.

What is Business Process Execution?

Business Process Execution is the fourth element within the Business Process Management cycle.  It's where the rubber meets the road, and work gets accomplished.

Business Process Execution extends beyond simply carrying out process steps manually or through automation. 

Business Process Execution encompasses a comprehensive set of elements essential for achieving successful implementation, execution, and oversight of your organization's processes.

The Importance of Business Process Execution

Effective execution of processes streamlines operations, minimizes errors, and improves efficiency.  There is less firefighting and enhanced collaboration and communication between groups, freeing up valuable time for more critical work. 

Effectively managing business processes ensures they continue to deliver value and that process execution errors are quickly identified and resolved.   

Processes execution issues could come in the form of:

  • A lack of clear objectives
  • Poor handoffs between groups
  • Process automation or procedural errors
  • Insufficient resources
  • Inadequate measurement
  • Resistance to change

Implementing a framework for managing business processes will minimize these issues and keep your processes on track and agile enough to meet changing business needs.

Managing Business Processes

Business Process execution lives within the broader context of Business Process Management, which includes Process Discovery, Process Mapping, Process Automation, Process Execution, Process Governance, and Continuous Process Improvement. 

Specific to process execution, five essential elements must be in place for effective management and operation of the business processes.  These elements include defined roles, helpful documentation, structured implementation, ongoing training, and effective measurement and tracking of the process. 

Process Roles and Responsibilities

Everyone needs to know their place within a process for it to function.

A person's role within a particular process may differ from process to process and is most likely just a part of their overall job.

Two of the most essential roles within a process are the Process Owner and the Process Manager.

A Process Owner is a senior person in the organization with the influence to ensure the overall success of the process.  The Process Owner sets objectives, engages stakeholders, oversees governance, ensures compliance, and drives the continual improvement of the process.

The Process Manager is responsible for the day-to-day execution and coordination of activities.   They allocate resources, coordinate team members, manage and measure process performance, and act as the first escalation point for process issues.

Both roles are essential for effective process management, with the process owner providing strategic direction and the process manager ensuring operational efficiency.

Then, there is the staff involved in the process execution.  The staff must follow the required activities, tasks, and procedures to ensure the process runs smoothly.  They are also responsible for reporting any process issues to the process manager.

Business Process Documentation

Comprehensive and up-to-date business process documentation is an essential but often overlooked part of process execution.  

Process documentation should include:

  • A high-level description of the process
  • Goals and objectives for the process
  • Clearly defined roles & responsibilities for the process. Along with a RACI matrix to identify responsibility, accountability, consultation, and notification requirements.
  • Process Maps that visually show the flow of the process, decision points, and handoffs between departments
  • Written descriptions of each step within a process. Including inputs, outputs, tasks, responsible roles, and any relevant guidelines or standards.
  • Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) with detailed step-by-step instructions (learn more about the difference between process and procedures).
  • A list of the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) used to measure the process.  
  • The specific Process Controls required to support governance and regulatory compliance.

Other helpful process artifacts could include a Value Stream Map or SIPOC diagram to communicate the process at a high level and to support process improvement.

Process documentation is essential for several important reasons.

  • Training and onboarding employees
  • A blueprint for process automation 
  •  A baseline for governance and continual improvement
  • Retaining corporate knowledge as people leave the company

The Process Owner is accountable, and the Process Manager ensures documentation is created and maintained.

Business Process Implementation

Successfully implementing a process hinges on effective Organizational Change Management (OCM).   

OCM involves:

  • Identifying key stakeholders.
  • Understanding their needs and concerns.
  • Communicating the changes to emphasize the benefits for all involved.

Having the right sponsorship and change leadership is essential, or you risk poor adoption.  

The implementation must also involve employee training and support to ensure they understand how to follow the new process, including resources such as user guides, job aids, or online tutorials. 

Effective communication is crucial during any process implementation. It's essential to keep all stakeholders informed about the progress of the implementation and address any concerns or challenges that may arise. 

Regular communication also helps maintain employee motivation and engagement, ensuring a smooth transition to the new process.

Monitoring the process post-implementation is essential to gauge the effectiveness of the newly implemented process.

I've intentionally omitted process automation, governance, and continuous process improvement from the implementation as these are parts of other phases of the BPM cycle.

Ongoing Process Training

The availability of ongoing process training is essential for successful process execution.  

This training includes regular updates on any changes to the process, training new employees, and offering refresher training for employees who may need it.

Ongoing training also provides a forum for employee feedback and suggestions, which can lead to continuous process improvement.

In addition to traditional classroom-style training, online resources such as webinars or e-learning modules can be beneficial.  These options allow employees to access the training at their own pace and convenience.

Data Analytics for Informed Process Management

The final aspect of process execution is using analytics for effective management and oversight.  

With the increasing availability of data and advanced analytical tools, businesses can now track and measure various process metrics to identify areas for improvement.

Managers can gain valuable insights into their processes by analyzing data such as cycle time, error rates, and productivity levels.  They can then make informed decisions on streamlining operations, reducing costs, and improving overall efficiency.

Additionally, data analytics can help identify patterns or trends that may impact the process in the future.  This analysis allows businesses to address any potential issues before they arise.

Effective management of business processes ensures successful execution and delivery of value.  Business Process Execution requires weaving together ownership, accountability, implementation, execution, and oversight.  Through effective process execution, businesses can maintain agility to meet ever-changing business needs.

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