Process Management Failures Start With Poor Governance

Abigail Heller's picture

In December of 2012, Tom Molyneux wrote about his experiences with process management and governance in a Successful Workplace blog titled BPM’s struggle over governance. In his article, he suggests that a lack of governance is a common reason that organizations experience process management failures.

First, he suggests that certain parts of process management are easier than others, such as process capture. He says that process mapping is a fairly easy exercise: it’s straight forward and people can agree easily, “Yes, this is how that process is performed.” Yet, the issues start when people approach the topic of who owns that newly-mapped process. And indeed, this is a difficult decision.

To be clear, who owns the process is very different from the person(s) who performs it. That’s easy to determine. When it comes to process governance, Molyneux says that pinning down a person who can change a process when necessary and who is accountable for its success is much more difficult. He even suggests that without clear governance, processes won’t last long. They eventually unravel and fall apart.

Yet what is missing from this discussion is how to actually go about deciding governance. APQC has done best practice research in this area and found that there are several best practices when making a decision about governance. In APQC’s piece Best Practices in Governance, there are several characteristics of the best person to own a process. Process governance should be assigned to someone with:

  •    Experience with the specific process in question;
  •    Access to regular communication with multiple stakeholders, including those performing the process;
  •    Accountability for the process and a level of authority within the organization;
  •    A role at the manager, director, or executive level of the organization.

Although these characteristics may be hard to find in one person, they have been cited as the most appropriate attributes for a process owner. Are there other qualities that make these sorts of assignments easier? We’d love to hear from you.

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