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“Very insightful, as it made me think about asking for things in a different way in order to get a different outcome”



The Smallest and Largest BPM Teams

What is the ideal size of the team, what if the team can’t be that big, or what it you need more people on the team? (Read my blog of April 2, The BPM Team –Who are They?  To see the seven different roles and two leadership roles of the BPM improvement project team.)

The ideal team would be 7-9 people including the team members, Project Lead and Team Facilitator, and they could be configured as follows:

7 people = Project Lead , Team Facilitator, IT, Maverick, SME combined with data, SME combined with documenter, SME or customer/supplier

9 people  = Project Lead, Team Facilitator, IT, Maverick, SME combined with data, SME combined with documenter, SME, SME, and customer/supplier


Here are some easy ways to think about who you need on the team:

  • SME’s for all the steps in the high level map
  • Representatives from the various divisions, and geographic areas that do the process
  • The documenter can be a combined role, usually performed with the SME role or IT role.
  • The data person can be a combined role, usually performed with the SME role, as it is helpful to have some who knows the process.
  • Do not combine Team Facilitator and Project Lead.  The Project Lead is the SME who knows the most about the process and needs to contribute content to the process improvement effort.  The Project Lead is also the operational lead for the project, and may be the manager of some of the SME team members and might restrict open discussion. The Team Facilitator needs to be neutral and engage all members as well as know the BPM methodology well.
  • The customer and supplier are optional

When it might be useful to have a customer or not?  One process I worked on was studying prospect identification and information; here the team decided to have the customer, an internal fund raiser on the team.  They found it helpful to hear what information the fundraiser customer needed and at what time. In another example, a team was analyzing the process of course credit evaluation for transfer students who entered in their junior year.  They decided to ask a student at the university who was a transfer student (the customer) to join the team.  The student not only advocated for what was important to transfer students from a value and process standpoint, but let the more experienced SME’s know when some of the methods were not up-to-date or not needed by today’s students.  In a third example, in working with the Tech Support Issues Process, it was not necessary to have a customer be on the team full time. There are probably too many types of customers, and the time working with the team would be excessive for their use of the Tech Support Issues process.

The Process Owner and Project Lead decide who should be on the team, getting the best people possible.  The Process Owner recruits them and helps provide the time to do the work; if the needed team members are outside his functional area, the Process Owner helps influence the employee’s manager in order to get a particular team member.

The smallest team I have ever worked with had five people:  a project lead (who was a strong SME), two other SME’s one of whom was from IT, and a Maverick.  I was an external consultant and had the Team Facilitator role.  This was a simple customer service process for internal web site changes and improvements.  We did it all by videoconference –  the workshops, the team meetings in between, and the meetings with the Process Owner.  It worked fine.  The size of the team was appropriate for the need of the project.

The largest team I have ever worked with was 16 people.  It had a project lead, 10 different SME’s, two IT people, a Maverick, and a customer.  I was an external consultant and was the Team Facilitator.  It was a complex process that spanned several divisions. There were lots of SME’s because they had people from different divisions who participated in the process – doing the work at the beginning, middle, or end, creating, reports, and working with customers.  There were probably more people than needed but the company wanted ‘full representation’.  When there are large teams and they have an internal facilitator, I suggest they use two facilitators.  Two facilitators really help to keep the team on track, pay attention to all the team members, and not put so much pressure on the single facilitator.

So look at the high level map and see what SME roles are needed because they do the work of the process.  Then think about what levels of roles (manager, worker, assistant) are needed and the different departments or divisions that should be represented.  Add the specific roles as well.  Don’t forget any roles.  Combine the roles if you want to make the team smaller.

Want to learn more about how to structure a team and turn the team into change agents for success?  Register for Starting and Organizing a BPM Project.  Early Bird savings no available.


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