Follow the I4 Process Blog

 Subscribe in a reader

Enter your email address:

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



Process Governance- Leadership or Management? Part 1

Gartner’s definition of BPM is “a management practice that provides for governance of a business’s process environment toward the goal of improving agility and operational performance.“

The definition implies that BPM has both management and leadership and I agree.  I would clarify further:  leadership of the environment and management of the practices.  Let’s see how they both play out by looking at the What, Who, When, and Where of Process Governance.

WHAT are the elements of Process Governance?  There are two important streams to governance: 

Leadership includes

  • Accountability and Decision Making
  • Vision and strategy
  • Process Prioritization
  • Regular Monitoring

Management includes

  • Practices – consistent definition and use of one methodology, process roles, training, measures, and frameworks.  Here we are talking about selecting and using consistent practices across the company. 
  • Standards – software tools for modeling and/or execution, vendors, process assets (what components do we create, document, track and keep in the repository), diagramming notation (and maybe a few others)



There are several leadership process improvement roles:  Executive Sponsor, Process Owner (most likely from the Business but some organizations have a Business and IT Process Owner for a single process), Project Lead (for each process improvement project).  There may also be a C-Suite Process Steering Committee or Advisory Committee.  If the leadership is not formalized at the enterprise level it might be dispersed throughout the organization in different lines of business and within IT.  From my experience, it is critical that Leadership not be exclusively within IT;  best practice is to have leadership at several levels– at the C-Suite, from the business for each process, and within IT as a partner to the business.


The Who in this category are the managers who are BPM Professionals who maintain the standards and practices, often in a BPM Support organization or a Center of Excellence. It is also possible that external consultants might provide the WHO in this arena because of their particular expertise.



The question here is when should BPM Leadership be established.  There are several ways to look at this:

  1. Which approach is best for your organization? – Top Down, Bottoms Up or Middle Out.  I have an article on my site about that.  My preference is for Middle Out, but there are advantages and disadvantages to each method which are explained in the article.
  2. Consider where your organization is on the Process Maturity framework.

Level 1 – Leadership will be executives, managers, and heroes of initiatives.  Process is not formalized yet.

Level 2- Executive Sponsors, Process Owners, and Project Leads need to be established for each BPM project.  These will probably be within Lines or Business or particular functions.

Level 3- Here is when leadership needs to be established for the enterprise, which would still be the same roles of Executive Sponsors, Process Owners, and Project Leads listed above in the WHO section. The processes would be larger, more complex, and cross functional.  It is helpful to have a BPM Professional Group with a Process Director at its head at this stage and a C-Suite Steering Committee looking across the enterprise. Process Owners would be active in new projects and in monitoring processes in an ongoing way.

Level 4 – Leaders would be called upon to monitor processes, report on them regularly, and prioritize process projects based on metrics and enterprise strategy.

Level 5 – At this stage the organization has a process driven culture, which means Process Owners have a clear position and accountability in the org chart.  See two other blogs, Three Reasons to Use the Process Maturity Framework Part One and Part Two for more information on this framework.


Again the five Process Maturity Levels provide guidance on when certain practices and standards should be started and incorporated in the organization.

Level 1 – Processes are ad hoc and informal.  No common practices and standards have been developed except maybe in some of the regulatory, finance , or human resource areas such as for the Balance Sheet and Profit and Loss Statement, or Payroll, or annual sign up for Employee Benefits.

Level 2 – Definition of roles in a BPM Project, selection of a standard process modeling tool, and usage of a consistent BPM  methodology and important practices. Training for teams and leaders which provide necessary skills for a BPM project should be available in conjunction with each new BPM project.

Level 3 – Now the organization should have a standard BPM methodology, which includes a charter and specific metrics to gather, and capable teams.  At this stage the need for a Shared Repository becomes apparent, and the organization needs to determine which assets to include in the repository.  Now is the time to consider a BPM suite, for the organization.

Level 4 –  The practice here is to us consistent practices and standards across the organization.  There should be a practice of regular reviews; often processes have  nested accountability from individual processes up to the Line of Business ending at the C-Suite Steering Team. 

Level 5 – The practice here might extend to including customers and suppliers in the process culture per process.  Also technology would enable processes to be monitored and changed real time.

I am teaching Establishing Business Process Governance and Centers of Excellence with BPM Institute June 27 in San Francisco.  Check it out.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>