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As I mentioned in the blog last week, it’s process governance month in my blog series, and today I’m sharing my thoughts on the ownership of process governance. I mean, where in your organization do you locate the ownership for process governance and where do you locate the ultimate sponsorship for it?

Process governance, first and foremost, assumes that you have started your process management journey (or maybe you’re already well on your way but haven’t gotten to this topic yet) and that you are coming up to the point where you first process models are ready to be approved and published, or that the first changes to existing processes have emerged from improvement projects or incident solving activities. This seems to be a good moment to take a step back and ask yourself: “Who is involved in taking decisions around business processes?”. The answer should of course be found in your process governance setup. 

Process governance deals with the structured and orderly fashion in which an organization ensures ownership of its business processes and provides an escalation path for disagreements on these same business processes. This last part might sound a bit childish, but belief me, there will be disagreement at some point in time about decisions on business processes (and this is fine, no problem, just make sure it’s being handled maturely). In order to facilitate this, a layered approach is required. After all, not all changes to business processes are equal (some a very superficial, while others are quite fundamental) and not process management activities are conducted on the same level of granularity or aggregation. 

This typically leads to the situation that a number of process governances roles and bodies need to be defined and let’s look at them from the highest aggregation level down to the lowest aggregation level.

(1) Process Governance Board (PGB)

The ultimate collection of end-responsible process owners (these global process owners (GPO’s) are very often senior executive roles (for the CPO for the Procurement processes)), chaired by a managing board member (in my previous company that used to be the CFO of the company). This chairman ideally is an independent role that is one step up in the hierarchy from the process owners, in order to be able to mediate any disagreements. The last missing member in the PGB typically is the Global BPM Owner (who co-chairs the PGB). 

(2) The Process Owner & Champion/Lead

As mentioned in the PGB part, the Global Process Owner is ultimately responsible for the performance of their business processes and the philosophy of #BPM is to achieve great performance by focusing on the documentation, harmonization, optimization and performance measurement of these processes. However, GPO’s most of the time have drifted too far away from the day to day reality of business process execution, or to put it less subtle: they have no idea anymore what happens on the shop floor. To help them out bridging that gap, organizations often assign process champions or process leads. They typically are in between the operational part of the organization and the GPO’s and are able to translate (bi-directionally) the challenges and ideas so that both parties (the shop floor and the GPO’s) understand exactly what is needed. 

(3) Business Process Experts (or Subject Matter Experts)

This is the most knowledgeable role of the three in process governance as these people are the experts on their respective processes, and as consequence are typically involved in initiating change requests and performing impact analyses. This role can be found both on corporate level as well on business line level, depending on the type of process that is the subject of change. For non-differentiating processes normally the central BPE/SME’s takes the lead, and for core processes (or differentiating processes) typically the business line BPE/SME takes the lead. 

I can go on about this for weeks, but the most important point is to have a kind of structure in place that executes the process governance activities and the reasons why (and a bit of how) will be in my next episode of “My Week In BPM”. 

Have a great weekend.

Ciao, Caspar

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