Organizations are realizing the importance of Business Process Management (BPM), and that strong Business Process Governance (BPG) is required to deliver high quality outcomes consistently; however, it is not always clear where to begin. This five-part series will focus on key areas that must be addressed to begin the BPG journey.
The first critical step is aligning the BPG framework with the strategic objectives of the enterprise. A BPG program requires the complete support of leadership to launch the program and to maintain it. Additionally, the BPG program must support alignment internally across the organization to be most effective.
For processes to be strategically aligned, all those involved must have a clear understanding of the value the organization delivers to its customers. Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is a technique used to aid organizations in understanding what value they truly bring to their customers and everything else should follow from that point. From the book, Learning to See,
“Whenever there is a product for a customer, there is a value stream. The challenge lies in seeing it.” (Rother and Shook 1999)
A value stream map is a visual representation of the product or service the organization delivers to the end customer, with corresponding high-level measures. It does not depict all of the supporting processes and procedures, but shows at a high level, or executive level, the flow of the product or service as it is being created and ultimately delivered. If the organization doesn’t have a value stream map, then someone who has VSM experience should facilitate and complete a series of meetings with a focus on the most important value streams for the organization. Once one or more value streams have been documented, the processes involved should be easier to identify.
In the same way processes are essentially permanent, so are value streams. Once the value streams are defined and documented, they should be revisited regularly to identify improvement areas, changes in customer needs or expectations or updates in support of other organizational goals. The strategic goals of an enterprise can typically be expressed in a change to one or more of the value streams. The regular review of the value streams, therefore, will result in a continuous backlog for the supporting processes.
Additionally, by associating processes to a value stream, one can quickly recognize what other processes exist for a given value flow. It is critical to understand the interdependencies, inputs, outputs and how other processes are impacted. By understanding how the pieces (processes) fit together in the big picture, the process improvement teams are able to manage the impact of any changes with the most efficient means.
Not only does strategic alignment for a process lead to better change and impact management, but also it ensures that process improvement teams are focusing their time and resources on the highest priority items for the enterprise as a whole. Strategically, some value streams may be more important to the enterprise than others, and having the processes mapped provides some inherent sense of prioritization of enhancements and time. There should be a roadmap for process improvements which spans the enterprise as a whole, so there is transparency to all process changes that are active or planned, with a highlighted focus on any interdependent initiatives. By aligning process improvements across the enterprise, organizational change management activities will be much easier to control as the implementation can be planned and executed in a more comprehensive fashion. When there is a lack of organizational alignment, changes can seem like a constant assault to the people within the organization, resulting in more frustration and confusion. Having a plan for processes across the organization leads to easier acceptance and adoption of those changes.
It can be challenging to quantify the value added to the work that process improvement teams contribute to the enterprise. By associating the process work to the enterprise strategy, and working effectively across the organization, the process improvement teams have the ability to demonstrate true performance improvement by delivering business value quicker, at a lower cost and with higher quality.