How Business Process Experts are likely to “evolve in what they do” and emerging “Process Offices”
Marilyn:In our The Evolution of a Business Process Expert (Part 1), you stated that the role of a BPX is evolving. How, in your opinion, are Business Process Experts likely to “evolve in what they do?”
Andrew: A BPX is typically a senior business analyst (BA) with a strong business process orientation. Currently, a BPX is most frequently involved in modeling and/or improving a small business process such as order entry, billing, or expediting. But there are several forces in play that will require a BPX to evolve in what they do. There is increasing evidence, including my own research, that more companies are establishing a small group of experts as a ‘center of process excellence’ and that there are more and more companies appointing executive process owners for large end-to-end business processes such as order to delivery, idea to launch and source to pay.
Marilyn: What do you see as the impact of these ‘centers of process excellence’ on the role of the BPX?
Andrew: As organizations set up a ‘business process office’ or ‘center of process excellence’ the role of the BPX will need to evolve beyond modeling and simple process improvements. The BPX will be called upon to play a broader role in education as process methods and tools are rolled out across the business. After all, as I believe John Seely Brown, the former Chief Scientist at Xerox Corporation, once wrote “processes don’t do work – people do!” Further, the BPX will need to hone his/her skills in performance measurement and be able to demonstrate tangible gains from business process improvements.
Marilyn: What about the impact of executive process owners? What impact will this have on the role of the BPX?
Andrew: This will drive a focus on larger, more cross-functional business processes. The senior BPX will be called upon to model and measure the current performance of these larger business processes with a subsequent role in the targeted improvement and continuous management of process performance.
Marilyn: What can a BPX do to prepare?
Andrew: First, let’s understand that the management and improvement of end-to-end business processes is more difficult and requires far more discipline and business acumen than a simple, one-time effort. Continuous process improvement means a fundamental shift in values and involves the disciplined measurement of what precise value processes create for customers and shareholders. A BPX must learn to think in terms of how technology enables performance as opposed to considering only siloed applications. This means that the forward thinking BPX should strive to understand the relationship of BPM, BI and SOA and how these can be combined to enable tangible improvements in business process performance. A few months ago, I wrote an article on the issue of moving from one-time improvement efforts to continuous process improvements for Intelligent Enterprise magazine. It can be viewed at http://www.intelligententerprise.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=184430200
Marilyn: What else might a BPX wish to do to prepare?
Andrew: I’d suggest that a BPX should want to hone his/her skills in the areas of measurement and also develop outstanding interpersonal and speaking skills. In terms of measurement, a BPX should become an expert in the development of key process metrics to assess the cost, timeliness, quality and productivity of a business process and then be able to work with financial managers to translate the impact of process improvements into financial terms. For example, if a BPX is working on an ‘order to delivery’ process and it is estimated that process improvement can result in improving on-time, defect free delivery from (say) 82% to 91%, then the BPX needs to be ale to work with finance professionals to estimate the corresponding improvement in days-sales-outstanding (DSO) and cash flow.
Marilyn: What about the need to improve interpersonal and speaking skills?
Andrew: As more organizations move from simple improvements focused on cost reduction to the continuous improvement of revenue generating processes such as “quote to deliver” and “idea to launch” the BPX will need to interact with audiences who are focused on factors such as customer engagement, speed to market and innovation. Excellent verbal skills are a prerequisite in establishing credibility with these audiences.
Our next blog-alogue in this series of “The Evolution of a Business Process Expert” with Andrew Spanyi will discuss how Business Process Experts are likely to play a key role in assisting their organization to move from BPM to BPI.