Life and Times of a Business Process Expert: Part 1
I was inspired to start writing this short blog series after my semi-recent podcast interview with Jon Reed (listen Podcast: The SAP Business Process Expert in Action – with Jim Link of Forest City).
BPX: Yes, they really do exist
I first got the inkling that we may be a little different or ahead of our time when a colleague of mine came to me after he sat on a panel at the 2009 ASUG Annual Conference/Sapphire with Puneet Suppal and Marco ten Vaanholt and told me that he was dubbed a ‘unicorn’ during the panel’s discussion. The second clue came when I was formally introduced to Jon Reed at the 2010 ASUG Annual Conference/SapphireNOW and I handed him my business card and he said “Wow, this is the first time I’ve ever seen that job title actually on a business card.” Genuinely excited, Jon went out of his way to introduce me to Marilyn Pratt (that’s me and our Enterprise Architect in Marilyn’s Flikr stream here). So, what’s with all the hubbub? You see, I’m part of a group of ten people at my company whose job title is Business Process Expert, and apparently while it’s a common term in the SAP ecosystem today, it’s apparently a job title that very few are taking on.
I find it very hard to believe that we’re so unique in this undertaking for a number of reasons, but the primary reason is the fact that there are a bevy of resources on the role of Business Process Experts, such as:
a) an entire community devoted to BPX on SCN
b) a 100+ page book co-authored by the BPX community and Marco ten Vaanholt that goes into great depth defining the BPX role
c) countless blogs and podcasts about BPX – heck, it even has an entry on Wikipedia
Let’s say for a second that we are the ‘unicorn’ and we are that unique, how did we get here? Our group was formed as part of the Customer Competency Center, shortly before our soft go-live date in October 2006 and consisted of six full-time members and two part-time members. Each of our BPXers were implementation team members and had worked hand-in-hand with our implementation partners on the configuration of the system to meet the business requirements.
While we were originally called Business Process Managers, we officially took on the Business Process Expert moniker in late 2007 after reading more about it on SCN and seeing that it really described, to a T, what our roles were. It’s imperative that I also note that each of the BPXers had absolutely zero experience in SAP prior to the implementation, and furthermore, none of them were from the IT department. What we lacked in SAP familiarity going into the project, we made up with experience in the business (well over 100 years combined at our company) and a very firm grasp of the business processes.
When we first formed, our BPXers were focused mostly on the module that they helped to implement (FI, Project Systems, Flexible Real Estate, MM, Assets, Treasury, etc.), simply because it was easy to stay in that silo of what we knew of SAP. Slowly, over the past few years our group has grown to ten members we’ve become more familiar with each other’s modules and how they integrate with one another.
As for my background, I am a CPA that joined the implementation team from our external reporting group (responsible for our SEC filings and special accounting projects) and I was hands-on in the majority of the configuration of SEM-BCS as well as a bit of FI. I’ve since been heavily involved in our implementation of SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation (BPC) that we’re using to create our budgets and forecasts. I feel that my interest in technology dating back to my high school and college days has really driven my interest in learning SAP and that having spent my early career on the business-side has given me a great understanding what we’re trying to accomplish financially and operationally. The ability to bridge the gap between business and IT, to me, is the primary reason why I feel I’m qualified to take on the title of Business Process Expert.
In upcoming blogs, I’ll dive a little deeper into my thoughts/experiences as a BPX and discuss my responsibilities, activities, value provided and some challenges our team of BPXers have encountered.
I think there needs to be a bigger focus on what business problem are you trying to solve, and not so much the tool itself (I am always reminded about this by our SAP POC to ASUG, Ingo Hilgefort).
We need more Business Process Experts focusing on business problems.
I agree, wholeheartedly, with regards to focusing on the business problem. I hear all too often "we want to implement (fill in the blank)" with little regards to the underlying business issues. Push back to get more details as to why to implement their tool of the week and people tend to get squirmy. 🙂
It's refreshing to have a "card carrier" who really can explain to others that the idea of bridging process, business acumen and IT expertise isn't some made-up concocted role that folks like myself invented as an idea to hang a community on but rather were the product of folks answering surveys in the developer network and explaining that their jobs were not Tech only but more associated with business analysis, process governance, process architecting.
Looking forward to further installments and glad you refresh the topic and exemplify: Who is a BPX?