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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)


Half the Time Process Improvement Fails: How to Be in the Other Half: Part 2

Car in pot holeIn order to “be in the successful half” where process improvement projects succeed you need to:

  1. Build and use a Project Charter
  2. Select the appropriate business process improvement leaders and team
  3. Use a time-boxed disciplined approach 

Part 1 of this blog explored “Building and using a Project Charter.”  This blog discusses “Selecting the appropriate business process improvement leaders.”


BPM leaders - 4 separate PM

There are four leaders that are needed for each business process improvement team:

  • The Executive Sponsor
  • The Process Owner
  • The Project Lead
  • The Team Facilitator

The leaders initiate the transformational work of the BPM Process Methodology, including prioritizing which processes to work on,  driving  process implementation after the redesign process recommendations are made, and lastly doing the ongoing monitoring and sustaining for the process.  In addition, for each specific BPI process improvement project, the leaders provide the goals, align them to the strategy, and articulate the results and benefits.  In other words, they give the case for change, and continue advocating for the improvement effort. Then during implementation, they are instrumental in influencing other areas of the organization that may be impacted by the changes but may not have been involved in the team’s initial BPI work. 

The Process Owner is the business manager accountable for the process from initiation of the improvement effort through modeling, analysis, and redesign.  He is also responsible for driving implementation of the improvement and then continuing to monitor the process in an ongoing fashion for the organization.

The Executive Sponsor is an executive above the Process Owner, who has this process within his authority.  He is responsible for provide staff and monetary resources,  for speaking across the organization about the project, and for influences cross functional needs.  The Executive Sponsor and Process Owner are the top leaders for the process and the specific BPI Project.

The Project Lead is a manager who has experience with the work of the specific process.  He reports to the Process Owner on this BPI Project and is the day-to-day leader of the process improvement team.   It is more important that he is a strong subject matter expert than a certified project manager, but he should be organized and have some project skills.

The Team Facilitator is an individual who is experienced with the BPM Methodology, but who may not know the specific process well.  Using strong group process skills, he guides the team members through the steps of the BPI Project, as explained in The BPI Blueprint..  If the organization has no staff to fill this role, the Team Facilitator may be an outside consultant contracted for the project.   

Warning Signals

If the BPI project does not have an Executive Sponsor and a Process Owner, there is little point in going forward. This project already has too many challenges.  If the Executive Sponsor and Process Owner do not understand their roles and do not participate fully in the periodic meetings with the Project Lead and Team Facilitator, their minimum commitment level is a warning signal.  They need to initiate and provide inputs and leadership throughout the project.  They should not wait to hear the ‘recommendations’ when the BPI modeling, analysis, redesign, and implementation plan is done.  

If the Project Lead dominates the BPI team working sessions, the team resources may be hesitant to speak up, and the team may not raise all the necessary issues and suggest divergent innovative ideas.  The Team Facilitator group process skills are important to prevent this.

Part 3 of this series will talk about the critical team resources and how they act together to create a high performing team.

Want to learn how to build the BPI Leaders? Take my online class, Starting and Organizing a BPM/process Improvement Project May 21 and 22.  Or purchase my new book, The BPI Blueprint:  A Step-By-Step Guide to Make Your Business Process Improvement Projects Simple, Structured and Successful. 

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