Business Process Management (BPM) is a methodology that focuses on continuous process improvement with the objective of maximizing the performance of business processes while aligning them with customer requirements and company strategy. Because effective BPM must be continuously applied to an organization’s business processes, many companies are searching for ways to make BPM a permanent part of their culture.
A BPM Support group can be the key to making BPM a permanent part of the way an organization does business. The support group will help institutionalize BPM by providing specific standards, methods, implementation guidance, training, governance models and technology that managers and employees can use to implement and practice BPM at their organization.
Leaders who wish to create a BPM support group have several options in regards to where this group can be based, each having its own pros and cons. Below we’ll discuss a few options.
Centralizing the BPM Support group in the IT department can be a logical choice. Because BPM can involve complex process automation technologies and software programs, IT professionals seem a natural choice to support BPM, as they have the competence to manage complex technologies. The vulnerability of housing BPM in the IT Department can be expressed in the saying, “If you’re good with a hammer you tend to see every problem as a nail.”
The purpose of a BPM support group is to create a process that all employees can relate to. The support group should not focus solely on process automation at the exclusion of other important BPM principles. An IT-based support group may lead other employees to perceive BPM as an IT effort instead of the business-wide methodology that it is. If you decide to base your BPM support group in the IT department, make sure your other employees are well-educated in BPM principles and methodology.
BPM focuses on organizational strategy and objectives, so it integrates well with corporate planning. Housing the support group in the corporate planning department produces the benefit of aligning process improvements with customer needs and organizational strategy. When supporting BPM from the planning department, it is important that strategies and objectives be implemented into daily business practice and not remain indefinitely in the planning phase.
A potential solution to the challenges of basing a BPM support group exclusively in either the IT Department or the Corporate Planning Department is to form a hybrid support group made up of employees from both the IT and planning departments. The resulting team can be both forward thinking and technologically grounded.
When General Electric CEO Jack Welch announced that Six Sigma was to be GE’s defining initiative and managers who would not support it were invited to take their talents elsewhere, there was no question as to the priority Six Sigma would have in the company. Likewise, when a BPM support group has executive level backing, it may be taken more seriously and can make more of a lasting change.
There is a possibility that a BPM support group that applies the inherent power of executive suite support could become excessively efficient and implement new solutions before they are tested. This risk can be alleviated if the support group moves at an appropriate pace and doesn’t attempt to impose standards and processes that other employees are not trained to implement or prepared to use.
Support groups ensure that BPM standards, methods, and technologies are effectively implemented and become a permanent part of the organization. Business leaders can help improve BPM adaptation across an organization by carefully considering where the BPM support group is based and which team members will be in the group.