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“Shelley engaged the Advisory Council in some very productive ways. The project enabled Kara to increase its leadership capacity within the organization. We were able to begin some new projects that would not be possible without the assistance of the Advisory Council.”

Michael Lydon
Executive Director(former)
Kara

 

BPM Staffing – Do Process Teams Really Need a Project Lead AND a Team Facilitator?

Yes, BPM process improvement projects do really need both a Team Facilitator as well as a Project Lead, and here’s why. 

The BPM Process Team

(If you want to learn more about the different roles and responsibilities see my blog, The BPM Team – They Play a Contact Sport.)

What’s the difference between the Project Lead and Team Facilitator?  A lot!  The Project Lead

  • is the subject matter expert who knows the most about the process you are improving.
  • is responsible for ensuring the Process Owner’s improvement targets for the process are met.
  • is responsible for implementing the new process recommendations on an operational level – in other words making the execution happen. 
  • works with team members who have questions about the project or assignments.
  • resolves any interpersonal problems in offline discussion.  (Yes, it is possible that a team member may have to be removed from the team, but that happens infrequently.)
  • is responsible for monitoring the team assignments and making sure they are getting done.

The Team Facilitator, on the other hand,

  • should not know the process, but does need to know group process skills and the BPM methodology. 
  • facilitates all group meetings so that the team and the Project Lead can provide key content- subject matter input.
  • makes sure all the team members participate and no one gets overlooked, stays silent, or is overruled.
  • knows the methodology well enough to the help direct the team in what modeling and analytical techniques are essential for the process improvement work.
  • keeps the meetings on track so that the project keeps moving along toward the goal.

Who can fill the role of the Team Facilitator?  I suggest that it be a skilled BPM methodology employee and someone who knows how to work with group.  Both of these skills can be learned although a natural proclivity towards a process approach and an ease with managing group meetings is helpful.  The Team Facilitator could be a Business Analyst, someone from the Project Management Office, or a Black Belt.  It could also be a manager  or individual performer from another group who has these skills.

It’s important that the Project Lead and Team Facilitator work together.  They should both work with the Process Owner, so that together they can keep the team on track toward the Process Owner’s goals for the project.  That means that the Project Lead doesn’t let the team get off track and into the weeds while the Team Facilitator is facilitating the work. The Project Lead and Team Facilitator also work together to determine which BPM modeling and analytical techniques the team should be using – in other words, the two plan agendas together for the team’s work.   

Why don’t I suggest that the Project Lead and the Team Facilitator be one and the same person?  For several reasons:

  • The Project Lead needs to contribute a lot of content and that isn’t a Facilitator role  The Team Facilitator needs to draw content and comments from all the participants vs. offering content of his own.
  • Sometimes the Project Lead is authoritative and then the other team members (whose content is also important) could be reticent to participate, particularly if the Project Lead is their boss.
  • The Team Facilitator goes away at the end of the redesign, recommendations and implementation plan.  The Project Lead is responsible for operationalizing the new plan.  The Team Facilitator would not have the knowledge and influence to do implementation.  The Project Lead’s continuing role through implementation is key for the success of the project.

What if we have a very small team and so need to cut down on members?  I would suggest using a Team Facilitator from Human Resources, from another unit, or an outside consultant.  Don’t use the Project Lead or an SME for the Team Facilitator.

Now here’s your chance to comment if you have seen other situations that work for the team.  

Want to learn  more about BPM team roles and leadership roles, as well as how to write a charter in 90 minutes and facilitate As Is process diagrams in 2 hours or less.  Register for Starting and Organizing a BPM Project, June 18 and  19.  It is an interactive online class, and you will do real work on a company or client project.  

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1 comment to BPM Staffing – Do Process Teams Really Need a Project Lead AND a Team Facilitator?

  • Anamika

    The key differences in the role played by the Team facilitator and Project leader is very noteworthy. We have a small team and so far I had been playing both the roles. The problems highlighted above when Project leader tries to take up Team facilitator role will help me discuss this issue with my management team.

    The only other person I can think of transitioning the Team facilitator role to is the Project Sponsor. Do you see any issue with that? Is there any potential clash of interest between the two roles? I feel that the project sponsor is heavily invested in the success of the project and would be willing to give a fair chance to all team members to voice their opinion.

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