The impact of establishing proper roles

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The responsibility and accountability of a process rests on the role of a process owner. It is found that most companies experience fragmentation of responsibility and accountability due to the fact that these traits cross organisation boundaries (Keen & Knapp, 1996). Most organisations identify IT as being the central and core component or process owner, however other key process owners have been identified as being equally or more important. Gene Rawls (Varney, 2008) in reference to the relationships of IT and business users states that "This only works if you create an integrated team of business and IT people." The purpose of the paper is to review these relationships, their responsibility and accountability and ultimately measure the success of these co-dependent relationships by applying business process measurement tools. Organisations looking at adopting BPM will benefit most from this paper although existing processes may also be re-aligned in view of the factors which are beneficial to the success of relationships within BPM. The factors of this topic will be addressed by first defining what a process and a process owner is in the context of this document, then identifying the core and secondary relationships within this context, defining the basic responsibility and accountability of these roles and the impact it imposes on the success of the BPM. Finally, the measurement of this impact will be discussed as well as a summary of the key factors that promote a successful BPM adoption.

Processes and Ownership

A process is most commonly equated to a set of activities which may cross organisational units, is executed over a period of time and is managed by a human or technological process owner to produce a tangible or intangible output that is consumable to a specific internal or external client.

The effect of delivering this product culminates into immediate wins for organisations, with cost cutting, quicker product launches, reduced headcount and management of external values being some of the benefits of launching a successful product. (Thompson, Seymour, & O'Donovan, 2009)

Other process definitions include:

A business process is defined as a set of related activities that produce either a service or a product. The idea behind BPM is to line up these processes with the goals of a department or company. (Varney, 2008)

BPM is the most recent stage in the advancement of process-oriented management theory with the overall goal of improving operational performance and increasing an organisation's agility in responding to dynamic market forces (Thompson, Seymour, & O'Donovan, 2009)

a process is simply a structured, measured set of activities designed to produce a specific output for a particular customer or market (Green & Rosemann, 2000).

What is most evident is that these "related activities" (Varney, 2008) cross organisation boundaries and therefore constitute more than one process owner. A process owner is the business person who is endowed with the authority to change, improve and monitor a process life cycle while also applying measurement, documentation and training to these processes. Although this concept is considered new, its objective is clear in terms of creating the match between authority and accountability in a cross-functional organisation. Implementing authority and accountability can be approached from three different angles. Firstly by assigning ownership within the existing functional structure opens scope to a new role with responsibility which includes co-ordinating negotiations between organisational units but still preserves the authority-accountability relationship. The second approach involves the designation of a process owner to a senior manager, this imposes responsibility onto a role that already mandates authority and is socially recognised. The last approach imposes authority and accountability around business processes directly with the owner being the most direct person in command (Keen & Knapp, 1996).

It has been identified that process owners experience difficulties around the "issue of ownership and control of processes across organisational units" (Bandara, Indulska, Chong, & Sadiq, 2007).

Some factors contributing to these issues include:

Poor BPM education, where staff are often not able to differentiate between a process and a BPM model , (Thompson, Seymour, & O'Donovan, 2009)

Age and maturity of an organisation - younger companies may not have a clear governance policy resulting in cloudy actions that impede management and improvement

Inadequate use of process tools

Lack of standards, process standards enable a uniformed communication model where process owners have a clear understanding of what is required of them as per a standard methodology

Insufficient IT resources

Internal politics

Establishing a good foundation of functional cross organisational relationships is the key eliminating factor to these problems. Business process management (BPM) is the unifying model that co-ordinates these relationships between people and the applied technology by applying a process centric approach, governed by methodologies and process (Garimella, Lees, & Williams, 2008).


"Relationships, relationships, relationships - that's the main lesson I've come away with" (Varney, 2008).

A relationship can be described as being ever changing dynamic systems that either grow or deteriorate over time. As in interpersonal relationships so too does BMP relationships either flourish or simply disintegrate due to lack of disciplines that guide and nurture these relationships. Primary factors contributing to the success of a relationship are identifying personal goals and needs and allowing stakeholders the ability to function and grow to meet these goals and needs.

Cross organisational relationships are forged when process owners show capability and credibility. Possessing capability equips process owners to apply the appropriate tools, identify and manage the correct resources and apply these resources efficiently and effectively. Credibility refers to the act of confidence shown when process management teams and clients commit to these processes (Tregear, 2005). Possessing both qualities, naturally aligns to the primary factors of a successful relationship as goals and needs are satisfied, thus allowing stakeholders to function and grow effectively.

The responsibility inherited in these relationships extends across various roles; in order to support the BPM cross-organisational hierarchy a new set of BPM roles and responsibilities has been defined (Garimella, Lees, & Williams, 2008).

Supporting BPM Roles and Responsibilities

The roles and definitions identified (Garimella, Lees, & Williams, 2008) below form part of the base BPM role set; given that BPM is still considered a relatively new field (Hung, 2006) there are however no hard set rules that these roles are attributed as such.

Chief process officer:

This role is allocated to the business executive who defines and enables the process architecture. He also advocates the process-centric business culture and is responsible for adopting the necessary required skills, systems, and behaviours. The role of chief process officer requires a certain type of person, with a certain type of thinking that is geared firstly towards process mentality and secondly towards commercial mentality (Tucci, 2007). These qualities are considered to be rare and when coupled with the ability to be charismatic (possessing sophisticated abilities of interpersonal communication and persuasion), it stimulates the support of cross-organisational relationships and thus removes barriers encouraging favourable outcomes. This statement is supported by (Neufeld, Dong, & Higgins, 2007) wherein it states that charasmatic leaders "inspire others by talking optimistically about the future and about what needs to be accomplished, and instilling in their followers positive ideals that are related to desired outcomes."

Melenovsky defines BPM as being "a management approach supported by technology components," it can therefore be inferred that management supports the primary role and responsibility for the overall design and specification that dictate behaviour of a process. This sentiment is echoed in Champy's (Champy, 2007) statement where he declares that business process decisions require the active involvement of business executives. The chief process officer through definition of his roles and responsibilites fosters relationships across the organisation and creates a cultural awareness while establishing governance that maintain the integrity of the BPM life cycle.

Process architect:

The process architect creates detailed plans, constructing models and frameworks against them for the purpose of enabling business processes. Other responsibilities include creation of workflows, control plans and Key Process Indicators. Details around these responsibilities will be expanded further in this paper (Garimella, Lees, & Williams, 2008).

Business process owners:

The responsibility and accountability for the performance and design of end-to-end processes rests on this role. This typically includes formulating and championing recommendations on preserving, changing or eliminating processes (Garimella, Lees, & Williams, 2008).

Process engineers:

Process engineers build run-time business processes, this includes identifying and orchestrating services, composite systems, notification services and services that measure these solutions

(Garimella, Lees, & Williams, 2008).

Process analyst:

The responsibility of identifying what should be monitored, diagnosis of problematic processes and possible solutions and performance enhancements is performed by a process analyst, this role is compared to being a process psychologist (Garimella, Lees, & Williams, 2008).

Process performer:

This role is also known as a process member or a process worker; it can be described as a member who is conscious about the extended value he places on the system by merely being a part of it (Garimella, Lees, & Williams, 2008).

These roles should typically be born out of existing resources that possess business knowledge and are competent with the internal workings of the organisation (Garimella, Lees, & Williams, 2008).

By reviewing these roles, it is possible to take a holistic approach and further categorise them into Management, IT and business users. Posing the question of where these roles fit within the organisational structure leads to the conclusion that the organisation can be split into various organisational levels.

In a study undertaken (Bandara, Indulska, Chong, & Sadiq, 2007) , the organisation structure is categorised into three specific levels; namely strategic, tactical and operational. Taking into account the BPM role categorisation and imposing it on the organisation level structure, it is possible to identify the impeding factors that cause these relationships to fail, and the catastrophic effect it has on BPM product deliverance.

Organisational issues affecting relationships

The study attempted to identify major issues in business process management. World leading BPM experts were interviewed and requested to express the challenges experienced from an organisational, technological and conceptual perspective. Three typical organisational levels were identified mainly strategic, tactical and operational.

Strategic issues

Strategic issues create roadblocks originating in the support of top management, the alignment between IT and the business as well as process organisation and governance. Common problems include deficiencies in the manner in which organisations are directed and managed referred to as governance. The effect of governance mismanagement influences how the objectives of the organisation are set and achieved, the identification of risk and risk assessment and ultimately performance optimisation (Bandara, Indulska, Chong, & Sadiq, 2007). When process owners have no governance direction; the relationships between cross organisational practice areas are affected. In regard to ownership and control spanning multiple practice areas the excerpt from Thompson, Seymour, & O'Donovan, 2009 best describes this issue "If you look at it from a process point of view that crosses boundaries or business units, then someone needs to overlook the total process. Currently we are not set up like that so it is more silo driven for a specific piece of the process" A possible solution to this predicament was identified by another interviewee stating "...they have a group that they call the Process Owner Team with representatives from Distribution Support and New Business and they talk through process issues across the boundaries" (Thompson, Seymour, & O'Donovan, 2009) The manner in which employees understand the benefits of BPM is another contributing factor, often linking BPM with unemployment due to the process refinement nature of BPM , a threat that can be easily eradicated by implementing a BPM training or education program. (Bandara, Indulska, Chong, & Sadiq, 2007)

Tactical issues

The tactical level identifies the challenges experienced within process modeling, the measurement thereof and the BPM methodologies applied. The need for a standardised process mapping, process standards measurement storage, practices and monitoring practices are components that play heavily into the success of BPM (Bandara, Indulska, Chong, & Sadiq, 2007). Davenport's article (Davenport, 2005) classifies process standards into three categories - standard processes, process performance standards and process management standards. The effect of standard processes provides for easier outsourcing of processes allowing for effective and efficient communication around required processes. Organisations in the Supply-Chain Council have already identified themselves with an industry standard known as the Supply-Chain Operations Reference (SCOR) model. Process performance standards is achieved when organisations in the same industry agree on processes defined by activities and workflows against which they are able to analyse more accurately what a particular process resource will cost. Lastly, process management standards evaluate the management and measurement of process standards and provide further evaluation as to whether a process can be continually improved. Standardised processes and measurements thus have a direct effect on the quality, efficiency and agility of a process with benefits ranging from reduced errors to greater flexibility (Thompson, Seymour, & O'Donovan, 2009). There is however a lack of process methodology guiding these processes, with organisations struggling to identify the best practice and often amalgamating methodologies to best suit their purpose. Other tactical issues include the adoption of process modelling, where difficulties arise when users often over complicate a model leading to expansive and complex models. One needs to then question the level at which BPM is taught at tertiary institutions, enforcing a strong foundation of process driven minds will greatly enhance BPM within organisations (Bandara, Indulska, Chong, & Sadiq, 2007).

Operational issues

Operational issues identify the technological difficulties in BPM adoption. This covers areas such as technology competence, the maturity of SOA (Service Oriented Architectures) within technology and the applied standards or best practices that govern technology. As identified in tactical issues, process modelling without the proper education and standards can negatively affect a process, the tools used for the visualisation of this process is another factor to consider especially when organisations are faced with huge or complex modelling processes which need to be broken into smaller coherent pieces. The lack of standards in BPM as a whole are reflected in these tools, with various tools employing various methods for the same type of process. As a result, a disconnect between vendor tools and user adoption has been identified, with vendors accused of being disingenuous due to improper or lack of documentation (Bandara, Indulska, Chong, & Sadiq, 2007).

The accumulative effects of issues experienced within these levels most definitely affect the working relationships of process owners. Organisations who are able to identify and provide solutions to these problems will find themselves with a working and viable BPM adoption.

Using Tools to Improve Relationships

There are a number of process improvements and measurements which assist in maintaining BPM relationships. Management can apply industry proven standards which assist in various improvement scenarios. Identifying the level at which an intended improvement is to be applied as well as the objective; managers can make educated decisions as to which tool is most suitable.

Figure 1: Breakthrough Thinking

It is important to note that these improvements do not only enhance automated processes but also manual processes by implementing technology components to assist in the manual procedure. Using process improvement methodologies such as Lean, Six Sigma or SCOR assists in the planning of BPM projects, identifying and correcting defects and applying effective improvements.

In the Six Sigma methodology, the largest problems are given priority by identifying and applying counter measures to prevent further process degradation. The methodology enforces the resources of as few people as possible to reduce defective parts per million manufactured (Hawks, 2000). Six Sigma is recognised as one of the most proven methodologies enabling process improvement. In brief it involves a sequence of steps where project goals and issues area identified known as the defining phase, the second step involves the measurement of current process where a base line on current performances is recorded, this leads to analysis of this data locating the root cause of problematic areas, using this analysis, it is possible to apply improvements by implementing viable solutions which filters down to the control phase involving constant monitoring and evaluation.

The Lean methodology finds its origins in the Japanese manufacturing industry and focuses on the steady elimination of waste; this method improves production time and reduces costs while steadily improving quality. A good working example of Lean is evident in the Toyota production manufacturing process, where benefits were visible by reducing floor space requirements, engineering hours and on-site inventory.

Supply-Chain Operations Reference (SCOR) is a diagnostic model specifically bred for the management of the Supply-Chain industry where satisfying a customer's demand is crucial to business. This model provides standards based on five key concepts, plan, source, make, deliver, return.

Organisations can also eliminate confusion and misinterpretation of process models by applying uniformed standards, making it easier for users to apply common standards to processes or objectives. Recognising the need for management standards, the internationally recognised ISO standards (ISO 9001:2000) provides guidance for quality management systems. It provides a 'Plan-Do-Check-Act' model whereby organisations can manage processes and activities effectively. This is achieved by planning objectives, implementing these plans, measuring the results and finally acting on these results in alignment to process improvement.

Other methods of improvement involve business activity monitoring (BAM) enabling a clear understanding of relationships between business and IT operations. BAM makes it possible to identify issues including failures, and apply solutions in real-time (Crump, 2006). This is achieved through the automation of event and defect data collection, providing a rich history of measurement trends which aids the measurability of process improvements over a period of time. Typical event and defect data include most frequent occurring defects which can be traced over a particular time span, adjusted and measured again.

Statistical volumes gathered by BAM include (Crump, 2006)

• Number of transactions

• Number of process events

• Transaction revenue

• Process revenue

• Line of business revenue

• Cost

• Margin

• Number of changes in a record

• Number of items consumed

• Number of calls

• Number of tickets closed

• Number of errors

• Number of days to scheduled ship date

• Number of compliance events for audit

These statistics can be further grouped into velocity measurements (Crump, 2006)

• Process cycle-time

• Cycle-times of individual steps

• Wait-times between events

• Time remaining to completion

• Process throughput

• Life-time of ticket

Through assimilation of this data, organisations are able to identify abnormalities by pre-defining thresholds which raise red-flags when exceeded. All of this information is readily available via data rich dashboards enabling management to observe and react accordingly (Crump, 2006).

Measuring People and Processes

The ultimate benefit of a well adopted business process management is the positive effect it has on Return on Investment (ROI). Eliminating wastage, faster turnaround times and less margins of error are all factors contributing to ROI. There are also non-fiscal related factors that play an important role in creating a viable BPM adoption (Garimella, Lees, & Williams, 2008).

These include measuring the satisfaction of employees, client feedback and process efficiencies.

Through the use of The Balance Scorecard method developed by Drs. Robert Kaplan and David Norton, organisations are able to use this as a management system to measure process performance. The BSC employs the view of four perspectives - financial, customer, operations and competence which are projected against the organisation's vision and strategy (Arveson, 1998). Using the vision and strategy employees are able to align themselves to accomplish the organisation's vision. A successful BSC requires the support and leadership from top level management who ensure that cards are complete, measurable and controllable (Gumbus, 2005).

Employees are able to readily view results that are filtered down by management promoting the sharing of best practices. However, when too many measures are in place employees are prone to resist and as a result cards may be measured incorrectly culminating in a mismatch between what is measured and the employee's actual daily output. For this reason Key Performance Indicator's have been developed allowing employees to align themselves strategically to the business.

KPI's are also used to measure processes and when used in collaboration with BAM tools it enables early detection of possible problems. It is therefore important that KPI's accurately reflect against the performance of a process and the effectiveness thereof (Garimella, Lees, & Williams, 2008). Characteristics that constitute good KPI's include reflection and measurement of key drivers of business value which should be driven by executives; top-level KPI's should funnel down to lower-level KPI's and should be accurately measured as well as audited periodically. Tying a KPI to an incentive and empowering users to implement changes encourages optimism and healthy morale which make goals easily obtainable (Eckerson, 2009).

The use of performance measures unifies the achievement of an organisation's goals and objectives. Promoting good working relationships via the adoption of BMP methodologies ensures healthy relationships between clients, employees, business processes and business stakeholders.


The intended purpose of this paper was to firstly identify the concept of a process and in relation, the owner(s) of this process. The second intended purpose was to identify and expand on the responsibilities and governing processes which maintain the integrity of these processes and promote healthy cross-functional working relationships. The last intended purpose included the identification of methodologies that improve, monitor and measure all these working components of a successful BPM. The scope of these identifiers was limited to collaborative findings of other BPM authors attempting to explain these various working facets.

It is evident that BPM is a relatively new business adoption practice. As a result, there are many areas open to improvement, especially those that involve promoting healthy working relationships between cross functional roles and their inherent processes. There are however significant improvements already accomplished through the employment of internationally recognised standardised processes and technological tools that enable enhancements through design, monitoring and measurement of processes and process users.

Identifying roles and relevant skill sets that the support the BPM role structure, while defining the relationships and governing practices that nurture them, are important factors enabling BPM success. Another factor includes the identification and eradication of problem areas that arise within these relationships across the various departmental structures. The most critical factor enabling success involves the measurement of these resources (people, processes etc.) ensuring that they always align themselves to the goals and objectives of an organisation in order to meet the output of what an end product should be.

Management and IT are the two custodians who hold the key to bringing all these working components together with management being responsible for the "soft skills" and IT the required technology "know how".

In summary there are various aspects involved in the success of a BPM implementation, the factors highlighted in this paper were limited to a few resource articles providing insight into organisational issues and the impact they impose on people and processes and ultimately the end product.