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“This method not only provided excellent tools, it also helped us build the habit of criticizing our own process so we can make it better.”

David Scronce,
Director Strategic Initiatives
University of California, Berkeley


5 tips to Build BPM Leader Success - Part 1

Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 4.28.14 PMDo your executives have the skills and experience to lead a cross-functional process focused organization?  Clearly, if your company is a successful organization, it has many excellent leaders.  But those leaders have had training and experience to succeed in a traditional organization with a C-suite at the top and siloed business units and functions under each executive. 

When organizations want to build a process culture, they need to identify leaders for each process improvement effort—namely an Executive Sponsor, Process Owner, Project Lead and BPM Team Facilitator. This blog focuses on how to motivate, engage, and coach the Executive Sponsor and Process Owner during a BPI project.

The Executive Sponsor and Process Owner bring different strengths to the BPI Project. The Executive Sponsor has wider authority and recognizes enterprise opportunities and challenges for the particular BPI Project. He is oriented outward to the full organization. He represents the project in the C-Suite, and advocates for it across the organization and to customers or suppliers. The Executive Sponsor may have many processes and Process Owners under him and may not be able to give a high level of attention to one particular project. Be aware that the Executive Sponsor role in a BPI Project will usually go away after the initial improvement effort is completed, although hopefully the executive remains as an enterprise BPM advocate.

The Process Owner, by contrast, not only leads the phases of the BPI Project from the start but also drives the implementation of the redesigned process. He is also the person accountable for sustaining the process after the improvements from the BPI Project have been implemented.

The Process Owner is oriented inward toward the process. He articulates the Improvement Targets, Vision, Scope, and metrics during the Charter phase.  But it is not enough that the Process Owner sees his role as a leader during this single BPI Project. He is accountable for achieving the desired outcome of the overall BPI initiative.  And, he is the ongoing leader accountable for monitoring the improved process going forward. Without Process Owners, no one is minding the store, and processes can slip back to where they were before. 

Remember that the Executive Sponsor and Process Owner may be new to these BPM roles.  A BPM expert–it could be the outside consultant or internal BPM Team Facilitator—provides formal and informal coaching to them.

 5 Tips to Build the Success of the Executive Sponsor and Process Owner 

1. What’s in it for Me? (WIFM) – Start with making sure the Executive Sponsor and Process Owner are clear on how they will benefit from a particular BPI project. Is the project critical to a strategic initiative?  Is it one of their pet initiatives, which is of great interest to them personally?  Or, is it something where they will be honored company-wide for the success?  It’s best to have the leader articulate both a personal win and a business win.

If these leaders have selected this BPI project themselves, you can guess that there is something in it for them.  If the project has been selected by a boss or a BPM professional staff, it necessary to talk to them about why the BPI is important to the company and see if they agree.  Then ask them, “What do you see that you will get personally from this project?”

2. Provide Support During the Charter meeting – During the Charter meeting see if the Process Owner can easily articulate the improvement targets and vision.  It may be easier to use common terms, like What are your goals for this BPI project?” and then turn them into improvement targets (e.g, Reduce time to market for this product).   The Process Owner may not be able to give specific measurement categories for the improvement targets, so have some ready to suggest.   Also see how he responds when you ask them to relate the improvement targets and vision to the company’s overall strategy and if the Executive Sponsor chimes in. 

It is the role of the BPM Team Facilitator or possibly the Business Architect to  provide  this guidance. The Project Lead may also know specific content that could help.   Read more in my BPI Blueprint book, now available on Amazon

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