Integrating business process management into an organization can take various approaches and appeal to different perspectives throughout an organization. Unfortunately, organizations are either too loose or too rigid from how they apply process principles to sustainably drive business performance and continuous improvement. The intent of this article is to present an approach to enable organizations to appropriately integrate process management into business operations via the concept of a business process framework, and treat processes as enterprise assets rather than corporate artifacts.
Be Up Front, Clear and Honest
A difficult pill for many executives and leaders to swallow is admitting that the organization’s operation and tactical direction is not aligned with the vision and strategies. Without understanding how operational activities tie to (or don’t tie to) business strategy, it is difficult for the organization to articulate which activities are driving the end goal of maximizing shareholder value.
Every organization’s leadership pool has its own unique perspective on what defines a strategy. Unfortunately, most people within the organization misremember or ignore the formal definition of strategy. This typically results in misalignment between strategy and execution, as well as executive and operational levels of the organization. These misalignments fester as gaps, which typically become filled with “he said, she said” internal politics, sustaining the gaps until the next major organization restructure. Because strategy is rarely reviewed, most organizations do not take proactive measures to address this issue.
In delivering any transformational initiative, it is ideal to address this simple issue of strategy misalignment early on. Using a business process framework, executives can clearly define and weight a list of statements that holistically represent the organization’s strategic business drivers. Ideally, a scoring matrix is compiled of roughly a dozen business drivers. The matrix allows for contrast and comparison of individual scores to help identify misalignments and generate valuable discussion (For example, “What are the top 3 drivers of value?”, “What are the bottom 3 drivers of value?”, “Any surprises or changes required?”). Such analysis should be conducted on a regular periodic basis to establish and sustain a culture that fosters open, honest and candid communication amongst the leadership team.
Business Driver Influence Matrix
Business Driver Weightings
Promoting a Culture of Priorities
Presuming an organization is in agreement, business driver weightings are an invaluably simple solution to promote a culture of consistent prioritization. If nothing else, misalignments between leaders can be identified and appropriately addressed minimizing the chance for groups to adopt their own strategies and sets of priorities. There should be no surprise when groups are misaligned and overall business performance does not achieve the expected level of success.
The key to driving business process management into an organization depends upon setting a holistic perspective of priority across the enterprise process lifecycle. Every business can be defined by a few high level process areas, each with multiple detailed sub-areas. Process areas and sub-areas are then assessed against the business drivers for relative importance to achieving each business driver. This assessment assigns a level of priority to each process area and sub area. The resulting enterprise process lifecycle can then be distributed as the official strategic designation of where the organization needs to focus investment of time, money and resources to achieve its strategic aspirations.
Enterprise Process Lifecycle
Ensuring Business Scalability
An enterprise process lifecycle provides a single representation of the organization including a framework to associate the multiple levels of business process activities. Consequently, each process area or sub area may inherit the relative level of strategic prioritization or other categorization. More importantly, this structure provides an objective mechanism for capturing and prioritizing any type of business concept (i.e. ideas, issues, risks, opportunities, resource capabilities and capacities) at the appropriate process level. However, the true value exists in offering unlimited potential to consistently promote and regulate business investment and decisions at the process level and also the ability to quickly aggregate and visualize these concepts at the strategic level.
While the early stages of a business process management journey might focus the organization on process documentation excellence, the real value is unleashed when an organization can focus on realizing what the process structure enables the business to achieve. Most strategic initiatives focus on implementing meaningful change. Linking process architecture and strategic intent not only allows for quick adaptation to change but also enable organizations to maintain continuous transparency and control. In addition, a business process framework opens the door to easily integrate a multitude of high value solutions including Executive Dashboards, Analytics, Portfolio Management and Resource Optimization.
Whether an organization is looking to prepare for a change, implement a change or complete a change in flight, business process frameworks provide a simple and scalable approach that can be leveraged for sustained success.