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I was looking forward to my Christmas holiday to take some rest, recuperate from a hectic 2020 and make plans for 2021… Rest: check, Recuperate: check, Plans for 2021: sort of check. I found it to be difficult to make concrete plans for 2021 simply because there is so much uncertainty in the world right now. However, uncertainty has almost become the new normal and just like I have to deal with it, all people and organizations have to deal with it.

One instrument organizations can deploy to cope with uncertainty is #BPM  (aka Business Process Management) because it will allow them to quickly assess the impact of upcoming or planned changes and all of the interaction or unintended consequences these might have. However, when push comes to shove, who will take the big decision to go ahead with the implementation of a major change (and let’s be perfectly clear: every transformation initiative going on right now is a collection of major changes). Ultimately, the distribution of authority around process management is called process governance.

This week (in fact this whole month) I will take a deeper look at process governance: what it is, who’s leading it and why you needed. In this week’s blog: what is it?

In essence, process governance bears a lot of resemblance with a country’s government (see the wordplay here :-) ). A group of people that have been chosen / elected / assigned to take care of the way things are organized  and executed within an organization. In case of process governance, this concretely means that your organization has appointed (global) process owners on a fairly senior level, who oversee all of the initiatives that are being deployed to document, monitor and enhance their processes. This does not mean that these owners need to be involved in every little detailed activity, rather not actually, they have better things to do. But it does mean that when a fundamental decision has to be made, they need to step up, evaluate all the arguments and render judgment.

When we decent a layer or two, three within the organization we arrive at the level of the process managers. Vital people as they are typically responsible for the execution of the processes and as such have an excellent perception of where processes could be improved. After all, they are doing a lot of the fire fighting on a tactical and operational level. It is for this reason, that we often see process managers acting as advisors of the process owners. They (process managers) are able to translate the day to day hassle into initiatives or changes on a more tactical or even strategical level.

Last but not least we end up with the subject matter expert or process expert. This person typically started his or her career as an actor in the very process he or she is now an expert in. They are consulted the first whenever there is a bug, hick up or inconsistency in the process and hence, they are most of the time the authors of the change requests that are being evaluated and decided upon by the process managers and owners.

Process governance does not mean that you need to implement a whole lot of red tape procedures, but it does mean that not just everybody can make changes to your processes, it does mean that there needs to be a frequent review of the process and it’s documentation and it does mean that accountability has to be taken when processes are not functioning optimally. The balance between governance procedures and effectiveness is a tricky one and there is no one size fits all solution, only a governance framework that you can use to shape your own governance activities.

Without this type of governance in place, all the good effort to document business processes, risks, systems, laws and regulations, risk controls and much more, will simply be outdated within the next 6-12 months (and sometimes even much faster).

And that would be quite a shame and waste of time and money, wouldn’t it?

Stay tuned for more, next week…

Ciao, Caspar


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