The first two parts of this series presented ideas and insights about aligning Business Process Governance (BPG) framework with the strategic objectives of the enterprise (Part 1) and establishing a process framework utilized across all process initiatives (Part 2). Part three focuses on governance. All processes require constant change to remain relevant and effective, and a governance model is required to maintain the appropriate level of oversight.
Each process should have a designated process owner. The process owner is responsible for managing a backlog of changes or requests impacting his or her process. He or she must understand how the processes support business strategies, and always work to ensure the process continues to focus on delivering the expected outcomes. He or she must also have a very strong understanding of the process dependencies and interdependencies across the organization to balance how changes to the process may have impact on other areas of the organization.
An effective process owner is not a dictator, but instead must understand who are the key stakeholders and business sponsors for a given process. The process owner’s role is to understand how those actually following the process truly use the process, and he or she must understand the value it delivers to the customer. The process owner provides a sanity check in the change approval framework, but should not act alone, as he or she must have significant input from those using the process daily.
In larger organizations or those with a global presence, process councils will be established with representatives from different parts of the organization or even from various countries who comment on or contribute to proposed changes, so all perspectives are considered. The process owner, in many cases, may defer approvals to the users of the process, or groups, such as process councils, but in the end, the process owner is accountable to the business sponsors and stakeholders that the process continues to deliver the desired outcome.
The governance model should outline a flexible approval process based on the type of change requested. Changes at the process or sub-process level may require more consideration than changes made at the activity or task level. Levels of approval should be directly related to the amount of impact to others. If the change impacts a single team or area, then the approval may be delegated to the line manager of that team. If a process change impacts other process areas or is cross functional, however, then more oversight and guidance should be in place to approve those changes. Often, the process owner will work with the key stakeholders, process councils or other designated process subject matter experts to gain approval on changes which are more impactful.
The governance model should be clear as to what types of changes require what types of approvals. This empowers staff members performing day-to-day functions of the process to modify their steps and do their work in alignment with their deliverables without being subject to extra bureaucratic red tape. In cases, however, where there are many interdependent processes or steps, having additional approvals is important. In all cases, understanding who is performing the work and who is receiving the work will help the process owner understand what level of governance would be most appropriate for a given change.
The most important aspect of governance is to establish a framework that varies depending on the amount of expected impact, and allow the model to evolve as your BPG capability increases and expands.
Look for part four of this series, which will provide perspective on how to establish a supportable BPG model.