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Author's profile photo Gregory Root

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.

Small Business

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.

Mid-Size Business

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.

Large Enterprise

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 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.

Part II

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?

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Great text Gregory.


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Hi Greg,

      Very interesting and timely post. You make a good point concerning the differentiation of the skill set and background of the BPX vs the Architect and I think it is a subject that needs to be explored further as the community matures.  Think I know where will be going with the Large Enterprise's but will let you know after you post Part II. 

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Thanks for the Note..

      How would one himself/herself market as Business Process Expert( if one want to market himself as BPE, with all the prerequisites).. if BPE is mostly apt to Large size companies?
      How often do the Big companies look for BPEs?
      Or is that Senior.Sys.Analaysts or Proj.Managers (if not IT heads) would be put into that posts/designation?