The APQC Blog

Is Your Organization’s Process Governance Strong Enough? Here is How To Know

It's been rodeo time here in Houston, TX and with that comes the enormous carnival that stays open late offering inspired fried foods, bumper cars, and all sorts of games. What does this have to do with organizational maturity and governance, you ask?

Well, the old carnival strength game provides a great visual for talking about where your organization lands on the scale of governance strength and what that might mean for the organization’s maturity.

The governance of an organization concerns roles, responsibilities, oversight, sponsorship, and management structures. When an organization has centralized governance that means a single group is in charge of the responsibilities and staffing and that group provides the discipline as a service to the entire enterprise. In short, you have a central group in charge of bringing the hammer down on the strength scale. So step right up and test your strength!

        APQC’s Strength-O-Meter

According to the recent APQC survey 2015 Putting the PCF into Action: Industry Organizations Summary Report, the majority of responding organizations report no or weak governance and only about one third report moderate or strong centralized governance. So what does it mean if you can’t get to the top of the strength-o-meter and ring that bell?

The weaker the governance, the lower the maturity of the organization.

Let me take a step back for a moment. The maturity of an organization depends on its ability to make informed decisions. Organizations grow in maturity by focusing on process measures, process analytics, and maturity assessments. If an organization wants to have a clear vision of the future, maturity goals can help them accomplish just that. The maturity of an organization is an important aspect of its longevity and success, but without strong governance that maturity will never grow.

If you are an organization with no or weak governance, what does it mean to be at a low maturity level?

According to analysis from APQC’s survey, organizations with weak governance have an initial or managed level of maturity. That means that there are few organized processes and most success depends on skillful employees, rather than standardized processes. That can be a big gamble for an organization that experiences high turnover.

If the strength-o-meter shows your organizational governance at moderate, you are on your way! Moderately governed organizations have defined and quantitatively managed maturity levels. This means that most processes are organized, defined, understood, and documented through procedures, tools, and methods. Performance measures are in place and processes are predictable and controlled.

For the 11 percent of organizations in the survey that reported strong governance, the stuffed animal panda prize is yours. These organizations all reported a maturity level of optimized, which means processes are continually improved, quantitative process-improvement objectives are established and used, and improvements and objectives are executed by an empowered workforce.

The big question is: how do you get to the top and achieve optimized maturity?

The survey results and past APQC research all show that organizations with centralized process management capabilities achieve higher levels of maturity. Part of how they accomplish this is through benchmarking, process improvement, and adopting and using the PCF for longer periods of time. In addition, best-practice organizations centralize process management capabilities for maximum effect and they invest in change management.  Mature organizations depend on strong governance and commit to widespread adoption of process management capabilities.

To find out how mature your organization is, you can start with the Business Process Management Maturity Assessment Tool (BPM MAT). If your organization puts strategic maturity goals in place and focuses on centralized governance, it can increase its maturity and win that coveted prize.


APQC’s Business Excellence team has just finished a new research collection that provides detailed analysis and research around how organizations use the PCF.  You can read more about governance, benchmarking, implementation tools and challenges, and more in APQC’s collection 2015 Putting the PCF into Action.