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Who Owns the Business Process (when Implementing SAP?)

Looking From A New Perspective – There are just about as many opinions about this topic as there are tables in SAP. Let’s look at this from a different angle. Instead of thinking this question is about who does the work, let’s think more about the process outcome. When the end goal is the corporate objective, the focus shifts from the personal ownership of the tasks that are performed today to the ‘results’ of those tasks for tomorrow. This is called Enterprise Goal Orientation© (EGO©) business process management.

Shifting From Ownership to Stewardship – OK, you are probably thinking that is really great – another acronym, but you still haven’t answered the question of who owns the business process. There is a paradigm shift that must occur from ownership to stewardship. No one individual (or business unit for that matter) owns the business process.  There are stewards that manage the process for the enterprise.  This is the basis for a chaordic organization. The term chaordic was coined by Dee Hock, founder and CEO emeritus of Visa International and author of Birth of the Chaordic Age (Berrett-Koehler, 1999). According to Hock, a chaordic organization is any self-organizing, self-regulating, adaptive, nonlinear, complex organization whose behavior harmoniously exhibits characteristics of both chaos and order. It exhibits diverse patterns and probabilities not governed or explained by the behavior of its parts — in harmony with the fundamental organizing principles of nature and evolution.

Changing From Command-and-Control Hierarchies – Most of us still think in terms of command-and-control hierarchies which was fine when information was not instantly available to all relevant parties. Today, information is immediately available to suppliers, customers and employees – none of whom can wait for decisions to descend from a hierarchy. To ensure business flexibility in today’s dynamic and often turbulent markets the business enterprise infrastructure must facilitate decisions and actions at the outermost level possible. Mapping a “chaordic” organizational model can address these requirements.

Enabling Flexible Business Process Management – Chaordic behavior is innate to EGO©  business process management, and SAP is its enabler.  EGO©  business process management relies on dynamic, real-time information exhibiting diverse patterns and probabilities.  It is not governed or explained by the behavior of its parts or the other entities that must compete and cooperate in order to succeed. Internally, marketing, sales, distribution, warehousing, procurement and other business units must integrate workflow, data and systems into the EGO©  architecture strategies.

Creating a Chaordic Organization – The success of today’s businesses depends on cooperation from vendors, suppliers, distributors, design teams and customers who lie beyond the control of any internal chain of command. As outsourcing, supply-chain diversity, Internet dependency and competition drive companies toward nontraditional strategies, new collaborative strategies must emerge. Creating a chaordic organization to meet these challenges requires drafting a purpose and guiding principles, identifying participants, designing an organizational structure and embedding these elements into a constitution that is represented in the EGO©  business process models.

Questioning the Status Quo – We have been using the model of SME (Subject Matter Expert) or Business Process Owner forever. I would venture to guess you are probably thinking “we have always done it this way, so why change now.”  My question back to you is simple “How’s it working for you after the project is completed?”

Executing Sustainability and Flexibility – Yes, the project gets completed but the sustainability and flexibility of running the day-to-day business operation through the inevitable changes probably hasn’t been achieved. This paradigm shift changes the staffing selection for projects and for ongoing support, it requires that the Enterprise Business Process Architecture is defined and it gets the processes modeled up front. It is the results or outcomes that own the business processes. Instead of looking to one individual to sign-off that a process is correct it is the results of the process that get sign-off. This is going to change how we model and test business processes in the future.

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