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The Top 10 Best Practices of Business Process Management steps 4 – 6

Years of successful and not-so-successful process management experience have led to a set of best practices a number of fundamental principles that must be honored in order to optimize returns to the company, the delivery of business results to customers and to satisfy the needs of the organization’s other stakeholders. The following principles underlie the methods of business process operation and change. Understanding and living according to these principles will get managers and practitioners alike through some tough debates about managing processes. Without support for these the principles, teams can easily get lost and distracted from the intent of the mission.

The 10 principles are

  1. Business change must be performance driven.
  2. Business change must be stakeholder based.
  3. Business change decisions must be traceable to the stakeholder criteria.
  4. The business must be segmented along business process lines to synchronize change.
  5. Business processes must be managed holistically.
  6. Process renewal initiatives must inspire shared insight.
  7. Process renewal initiatives must be conducted from the outside in.
  8. Process renewal initiatives must be conducted in an iterative, time-boxed approach.
  9. Business change is all about people.
  10. Business change is a journey, not a destination

This month we will look at 4 – 6

Principle 4: The Business Must Be Segmented Along Business Process Lines to Synchronize Change

It’s natural to view process as the prime segmentation strategy internal to organizations and—more and more frequently—among organizations since management structures with overly rigid planning mechanisms are too slow to respond. Seamless cross-functional integration is mandatory. Restructuring functional units alone won’t do it. Only process can stake the claim of achieving enterprise-wide integration because, by definition a process starts with the first triggering event that initiates action and doesn’t end until the results of value are delivered to the appropriate stakeholders. This event/outcome pairing defines the processes that we have. All other structures should be put in place solely to serve the full process and therefore to deliver added value to stakeholders.

This strategy implies that in deciding how to invest in change, prioritizing along process lines is requisite. In identifying processes that need to be renewed start with the customers and consumers affected. These processes are referred to as core processes. Look at the customer/consumer life cycle and follow it through, From the core processes, we can derive the processes that deliver guidance to them (guiding processes) and those that deliver reusable enablers to them (enabling processes).  Guiding and enabling processes exist only to support the business objectives that are the target of the core processes an should be assessed in that way.

By segmenting the business along process-value added lines, we have a clear framework for organizing and prioritizing change and for measuring the impact of our efforts in terms that business executives can understand.

Principle 5: Business Processes Must Be Managed Holistically

It’s becoming more and more prevalent to appoint a full process steward, for each process of the organization.

The steward acts as advocate on behalf of the process, taking responsibility for the process’s performance for stakeholders. The steward works not only to deliver improvements in process projects but also to remain in the role subsequent to completion of these projects. This means staying on top of process and stakeholder performance metrics and reviewing current performance against the best in the business. Primarily, the steward makes certain that the process continues to perform to requirements for its stakeholders, and corrective or anticipatory action as needed to either continuously improve or to introduce radical change is taken. Process stewards must be effective in using influence even though they might have no direct control over the resources involved in the execution and management of the daily work being performed. Clearly, this offers a significant organizational challenge especially with a mixed function-and-process approach wherein day-to-day control rests with functional line management, but monitoring and improvement responsibility goes to process stewards.

The critical mechanism that must be in place for ongoing process management to be effective is a forum within which processes are discussed their performance vetted, and the incentive for process outcomes shared among all involved managers. Staff involved in the day-to-day process also must see feedback on the ultimate results of the process. They must have incentives to support overall stakeholder value creation and not to do just what’s convenient for themselves.

Principle 6: Process Renewal Initiatives Must Inspire Shared Insight

Process renewal relies heavily on gathering information, gaining understanding, and arriving at innovative approaches and designs for change. Should this be done explicitly through documents and models or tacitly through human to human communication?

Experience has shown that using either approach exclusively is risky. Working closely with “knowers” rapidly accelerates the learning curve. Especially in focused areas of an organization, this type of learning is manageable because everyone can identify the credible sources of process information. As focus broadens, a business requires more formal approaches to be able to share what’s known. Hence, accessible knowledge artifacts, often in the form of explicit documents, hold great importance to help bridge the knowledge chasm

A number of activities in process analysis and design will uncover what we know, so that it can be shared across a group in workshops. These workshops will create artifacts or records of the agreements and ideas, but more importantly they will embody a deeper tacit understanding of what’s important to allow better decision making and common commitment. In many cases, a discussion will be more valuable than the charts created. Often, there are no right answers, only a better sense of how to judge. Not everything can be objective. Don’t leave out activities that embody trust, commitment, and understanding in the participants.

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