Are Business Process Experts just sheep in Enterprise Architects’ (wolves’) clothing? Part I
Is my job safe?
I recently went through some training on SAP Enterprise Modeling Applications by IDS Scheer. About half-way through the class I realized, “A Business Process Expert (BPX) might be considered similar to an Enterprise Architect”. But certainly, they aren’t the same are they?
Now, I’m not going to explain everything that a What is a Business Process Expert, Really? does. Nor am I going to write you a job description for Enterprise Architects. These blogs discuss why these roles exist and the unique differences between them.
Size Does Matter
Forgive me for the headline, but it goes to the heart of the question. The size and maturity of your organization will directly affect not only whether these two roles are the same, but also how important these topics are.
For a company with less than 100 employees, I feel pretty confident that if I asked, “Can you introduce me to your Business Process Expert (or Enterprise Architect)?” they would all look at me as if I was from Mars (or Venus if I was a girl). They would show me the door and say, “We aren’t buying any of your nonsense. That’s crazy talk.”
And they would be completely justified. The small business is highly focused on delivering sales. Everyone in a company of that size HAS to wear multiple hats. In a previous job, I worked at a startup company where the CEO’s mantra was “everyone sweeps the floor”. While I never did see the CEO actually sweep the floor, you could tell by his attitude that he did wear multiple hats and he expected everyone else to do the same.
For a company with more than 100 employees, chances are good that there is at least one person who has heard of the term. Most likely, that person is the head of IT with several people on their team. Unfortunately, the head of IT in an organization of this size has to wear several hats: budget IT expenditures, manage the internal help desk, manage the server farm and their applications, approve system plans, manage the Internet connectivity, manage the telephone system, etc. There is a beginning sense of “best of breed”, but the complexity is somewhat manageable.
The head of IT will also have to wear the hat of “Enterprise Architect”, but they will only be allowed to think about such things when either a merger happens, or when a new type of system is added to the landscape (like a new authentication system such as SecureID).
The role of “Business Process Expert” will be played only part time by some “representative” of the business side. This could be the Chief Operating Officer (COO) or the head of sales. In either case, it is still a fraction of their time spent on all their activities. Until a company realizes the importance of accelerating the business process and organizational change management (yes SAP can help you with Introduction: SAP Organizational Change Management (OCM) too), the organization will try to swap out or buy new systems to fix the process problems.
When you reach $1B USD in sales, you can pretty safely say you are a large enterprise. Having an Enterprise Architect implies that your organization has enough IT systems that you have someone to read the map of all the roads and can identify them. In the same way, the very existence of someone being responsible for business processes in an organization implies a certain process maturity (for software companies, see CMM in wikipedia.org). But, maturity doesn’t necessarily mean organized. It just means that you’re old enough to know better.
The challenge I see in today’s business is the willingness to spend money on an intangible: optimizing business processes. I remember back in the ’90s when business process re-engineering was a big consulting gig. People feared it for all the changes it would cause. That time period still affects our decisions today. But, with a technology platform like SAP NetWeaver and integrated modeling tools like ARIS for NetWeaver, it really does make process change easier through more gradual, incremental modifications.
In the next part, I will discuss the unique differences I see between the two roles in a mature organization. Can one turn into the other?