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How Can You Tell If Your Organization is Process-Centric?

and by [original link is broken] [original link is broken] [original link is broken] [original link is broken] [original link is broken] [original link is broken], President of Novador 



Have you ever completed a Business Process activity only to find out that it had minimal effectiveness (if any) to the entire organization?  How many times have you mapped your business processes? How many more times are you going to do this?  Have you ever wondered why you are continuously mapping your processes again and again?


What is missing?  Did you assess the state of your organization’s business processes readiness first?  If an organization has not transformed itself to not only process-centric thinking but also process-centric operations, then you may be stuck in a continuous cycle of process projects without the benefit of long-term process benefits.


Identifying the current status or state of your organization’s business processes is one of the first things that should be done before grappling with a Business Process Management (BPM) endeavor.  Typically an organization would complete some type of Business Process Maturity Assessment to do this.  You may ask, Why?  The main reason is that there are many facets to BPM, including many dimensions and success factors. 


A key reason for doing a process maturity assessment is to identify at what maturity stage you are, so that when you define what level of process maturity you want to achieve, you can define the appropriate transition plans to help you achieve your goals.


Not only do you want to achieve optimal end-to-end business processes in your organization, you also need to establish a healthy infrastructure (both managerial and operationally) to ensure ongoing process changes and success.  If you can achieve this, you are on your way to being a process-centric organization.  But how do you know if you are truly there?


A process maturity assessment of approximately 20 organizations from different industries, done by Widener University students in the BPI curriculum revealed some interesting results.  Most of the organizations surveyed felt that they were indeed process-centric.  A detailed analysis concluded that in general, management felt the organization was at a higher process maturity level than their employees.  In fact, all of these organizations were completely missing key BPM factors, such as complete end-to-end process documentation, process owner or steward identification, process based incentives, process measures, to name a few.  Several of the organizations had a type of process organization structure that clearly indicated the organization had made some type of move toward BPM, but were still not process-centric.  Remember, just because your organization might be organized around processes, does not mean they are process-centric. 

Process-Centric Organization Questions

So how can you tell if your organization has transformed to a process-centric organization?  Here are some questions we had found to be a quick way to identify if your company is process-centric. Obviously a full Business Process Maturity Assessment would be better, but we have found four questions that help as a good starting point.

1. Does your Organization have a process vision?

There needs to be a unified process vision throughout the organization.  This vision needs to be lead and embraced from the corporate level.  Some questions to ask your organization in order to assess their process vision existence and/or commitment are:


  • Does Upper Management embrace Business Process and the importance thereof? 

    Companies such as Air Products, who are very process centric, have this all over their corporate website! Does yours? [Remember, just having a process presence is only one facto and does not in itself determine process centricity.]

  • Does process have sponsorship at the corporate level? If not, then Business Process is a middle management initiative, or a one time initiative, that can be superseded by any new initiative. 

2. Does Process Governance exist?

Process Governance consists of the following elements:


  • Business Process Owners or stewards who are responsible for end-to-end processes or scenarios such as “Order to Cash”.   Sorry, process owners or stewards that are only responsible for their function, such as Sales or Purchasing do not cut it. 
  • Institutionalized Processes that manage the Business Process Management function. Change Management and Release Management are two such supporting processes.   Change Management is the process for identifying projects and changes, identifying impacts on existing services and systems and obtaining approval for the change or project.   Release Management is the controlled release of changes to production. A business process related task for a change may be to update process documentation, review and revise role definitions, etc.  For more information on these two processes, study the ITIL Best Practices.

3. Does Data Governance exist?

It is inconceivable to see how the best developed and designed process can be effective if the data it is using is incorrect or invalid. Bad data results in the outputs of processes not believed or trusted. 


Data Governance consists of (1) a Data Management Organization, (2) Data Standards, and (3) processes to manage the creation and changing of data.


  1. Data Management Organization – A Data Governance or Management organization is one that manages and approves any data initiatives, including changes to data.  This organization also defines and maintains clear defined roles for people who can request changes; approve changes, and action change requests.  Data Owners  should also be identified, these are roles (or names) that identifies who can approve any data change request.
  2. Data Standards need to be formally documented, assisting in the maintenance and usage of data. 
  3. Processes to manage the creation and maintenance of data need to be developed and communicated to the business users and to the Data Governance Organization.

4. Is there a continuous process improvement initiative in place?

Most organizations have reports or dashboards that show Organization process performance such as sales performance, service performance, etc.  Few organizations however have a process in place that continuously reviews these metrics, dashboards and reports and sets out plans to analyze and improve these processes.


There is really little point in having a process organization that is able to run reports and dashboards in order to show execution results and have no working refinement plan to improve them is there? 


Are you there yet?

If you are able to develop a process-centric organization with a structure for continued process improvement where you are utilizing your obtained metric results from real-time business processes to refine those processes, you are now progressing toward being a process-driven organization!  While none of the organizations our 20 students are currently in this category, it is a noble level to strive for.  It is also interesting to note that several of those 20 organizations had many of their business processes running on an ERP system, however It is important to remember that while ERP/s provide an execution platform for business processes, they are not inherently process-centric.  An ERP system has a one-to-one mapping to business functions, not to end-to-end business processes!  For any organization to be truly process-centric, organizational transformation must occur and begin with a true assessment and status of your current organization’s process centricity.

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  • Hello Yvonne,
    Great blog. You certainly brought up some valid points and questions to prompt many organizations/companies.

    As you pointed out, many are often asking who owns which piece(s) of the process. Most recently a question posted on the BPX forum on who owns the Order Management; process owner(s)? different groups? Different valid viewpoints…Who is the owner of Order Management?

    Within SAP, there is a Process Office (also known as Process Management Lifecycle) which is the SAP BPM procedure model. There is a wiki which offers some tools/ideas and a place that warrants yours and everyone’s comments/feedback as well: