Part one of this series focused on aligning with the strategic goals and objectives of the enterprise. The next step is to establish a business process framework, which will serve as the guide for all process initiatives within the organization. The framework is necessary for a consistent and effective Business Process Governance (BPG).
Business Process Framework
A business process framework allows multiple departments/teams in the organization to take part in process initiatives while still maintaining a consistent look and feel to the processes that are implemented. A well-designed framework will include the level of documentation required, an outline for reporting and considerations for how the processes will be consumed. Tooling, such as process design tools, should also be standardized, as the correct one will help organically enforce adherence to the standards.
The framework should provide clear guidance of how detailed the process flows should be. For example, a level-one process flow may show sequential sub-processes. The next level may separate sub-processes into activities, and a subsequent level may separate the activities into tasks. Processes can be composed of processes and sub-processes, and can continue to be detailed to very low levels; however, specifying the organization’s standard approach will ensure all processes are documented in a consistent manner throughout the organization.
It is also important to provide examples of which details should be described for each process, sub-process, activity and task. For instance, the task short description, which may be seen in the swim-lane flow, can be further expanded with a more enhanced description at the next level of detail. The task may even reference standard operating procedures or other details, which may be required to perform all aspects of the task. A decision should be made as to whether process documentation will refer to specific tools, inputs and outputs, or be stated in more general terms with more flexibility. It should also be determined if organizational roles will be referenced throughout the processes, or if more generic process roles will be used, which could then be mapped to one or more organizational roles.
The more guidance provided in the process framework, the easier it will be for process creators to provide the right level of detail and information, regardless of the process on which they are working. In all cases, the process framework should provide clear specifications of what is optional or required.
Business Process Metrics
Metrics are critically important to a strong Business Process Governance implementation, and must be built into all process work whether it is the creation of a new process, or enhancement of an existing one. Standard measures should also be detailed in the framework. Examples of standard measures are lead time, process time and quality. There should always be measures of the business value provided from any process. Although there may always be other measures which would be beneficial for a single process, having a standard framework for certain key measures brings a focus to initiatives that otherwise may be missing from the BPM activities of an enterprise.
Closely associated with metrics is the ability to standardize key reports that aid in the assessment of the effectiveness and efficiency of processes. Many enterprises will create a single executive view dashboard with some key measures across all processes to provide further insight into the effectiveness of the processes for the business. The process framework should identify any reporting requirements, which would apply to all process initiatives to drive consistency across the enterprise.
Process for process sake is not the goal of a BPM program. Processes must be capable of being consumed, used and evolve to realize the benefits the supporting organization desires. As such, the framework should also set expectations on how processes should be published, so those who follow the process or benefit from it can clearly understand all aspects. The process deliverables may be published as a Website, a document, a swimlane flow, RACI charts or in many other formats. The framework should clarify what process deliverables will be provided, so all impacted parties have the information they need.
Process Design Tools
Finally, based on all the guidance provided by the framework, many organizations will specify a standard process design tool, which should be used to manage/document the processes. Ideally, the tool supports many of the specifics detailed in the framework, so it is very easy for process owners to adhere to it by using the tool as configured. A tool is not required for strong Business Process Management (BPM) or Business Process Governance (BPG), but having the right tool can often make the activities much easier to maintain.
Keep in mind that although there are many aspects to consider when developing a process framework, it is permanent and can be modified and enhanced as the process program grows and evolves. It is more important to have at least a basic framework to start, and, as the organization evolves, so does the framework.