Do Process

Do Process

Chief Process Officer

Unhappy with their BPM efforts to date, some organisations are appointing a chief process officer (CPO) to oversee their BPM efforts. Binney says although there is value in making such a person the focus of the coordination effort around process, there is a danger in trying to turn that person into a process owner. And although a CIO may evolve into a CPO in future, it is important to ensure someone in the organisation is still concerned about infrastructure.

"The point I'm making is that the CIO or any appointed chief process officer can't own process, and I've had conversations with people who want to do that. And to me that's an abnegation of their responsibility," Binney says.

Gartner's Sinur says while appointing a CPO shows the level of the organisation's commitment, it is hard to find competent and capable CPOs, and such CPOs are likely to get restless after a period of being effectively an executive without portfolio.

McDonald, who considered himself a CPO without wearing that title, says WMC, like most organisations, is still trying to understand the difference between information and IT, as it relates to process. The biggest part of his job as de facto CPO is to reduce waste and then increase cycle time.

Cap Gemini Ernst & Young Asia Pacific CEO Paul Thorley says the BPM model or models employed by an organisation may differ from department to department. All models are valid, it just depends on the strategic vision and capability of the person or department charged with implementation.

"To achieve service improvement or continued cost reduction, departments should look to the application environment," he says. "Organisations that are mature in the BPM cycle link application change - and support - to the business process. A key limiter to change in running BPM is not having control of the process design embedded in technology."

Beefing up organisational capacity for BPM involves seizing that control.

SIDEBAR: BPM May Push Excel Aside

by John Surmacz

Business process management tools gain traction in the enterprise

Many companies are moving away from Excel and embracing more flexible, Web-based planning tools to handle business performance, planning and reporting, according to a recent survey. Meta Group says 85 per cent of respondents to its recent business performance management (BPM) survey indicated that they will have a BPM solution under way within the next 18 months. Just 15 per cent indicated they had no plans for BPM. Meta Group defines BPM is an integrated management approach that includes Web-based analytical applications (to gather and analyse data), business plans to achieve desired metrics and the necessary reporting and forecasting to ensure performance goals.

Before BPM tools came along, many of these functions were handled with simple spreadsheet software like Microsoft's Excel. Meta Group vice president John Van Decker says that the emergence of new tools is helping drive interest in BPM. "Clearly the Web-based tools are enabling organisations to get more folks involved in business performance process," Van Decker says. "Historically, planning and reporting has been an Excel-based process. Companies are trying to get away from that."

Roughly 76 per cent of the survey respondents said they were diving into BPM because they believed it would allow them to make better decisions. Two-thirds (66 per cent) of respondents said BPM would improve the efficiency of their reporting and planning processes (bye-bye Excel), while 58 per cent said BPM would allow them to allocate their resources better. Fourth on the list at 44 per cent, and a point that Van Decker takes particular note of, is the role that executives believe BPM will play in increasing levels of accountability and transparency in the enterprise. Van Decker says regulations such as those in Sarbanes-Oxley will require companies to be more diligent about their reporting. Web-based BPM tools make it easier for organisations to share data among business units and line managers so they can mark any red flags.

"In a lot of cases companies would just sign reports that come out of their ERP solution," Van Decker says. "These tools can provide alerts or notification when anomalies are detected, before they are booked as part of the accounting record."

Van Decker says CIOs will play a role in BPM as they help the finance group evaluate and choose tools that will integrate with existing applications and infrastructures. "Over the next three to five years organisations will be requiring that there be a deeper level of integration," Van Decker says, "That's where IT needs to ensure that this can be brought together."

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