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May 2011
Business Process Ownership:Why Business Process Owners Are Critical to Your Organization
By Anup Dashputre

     In today’s current economic environment, finding new ways to conduct business is paramount to success. Now more than ever, executives need to be more agile and more competitive to continue winning business with their customers. With emerging trends such as green technology, cloud computing and social branding, leaders of pioneering enterprises will feel an increased pressure to stay competitive and find new ways of doing business. If they are unable to do so, they will find their organizations fading away just as many others did when new technologies emerged in the last decade (mobile applications, digital imaging) or throughout history (internal combustion engine, cotton gin).

     These enterprising leaders will need to be intimately familiar with business excellence models, possess knowledge on improvement and trends, and finally, be persuasively competent in gaining the momentum necessary to lead change. Speaking across multiple industries, we are at an inflection point in how we do business, and, unless leaders of organizations take ownership over the process-centric way of doing business, they will find that their organizations are left behind in today’s increasingly competitive economic race.

     Given this evolution, what steps are necessary to successfully undertake a process transformation? Many companies have undergone efforts to promote process improvement projects, but how many companies truly understand what it means to become process-centric?

     The key to a successful process-centric strategy is going beyond traditional “fire-fighting” tactical process improvement projects, and empowering leaders in your organization to assume the role of Business Process Owners (BPOs). When this deep-seated commitment is realized, the exact value of your efforts will begin to be unleashed; not because you are using new process improvement tools, but because the decision makers in your organization are empowered from process design through process implementation.

     A BPO is a senior leader within the organization that has full responsibility and authority over people, processes and enabling technologies within their realm of ownership. The role of the BPO binds functional with cross-functional, bridging the gap between process handovers. What makes this role unconventional is that it separates activity ownership from typical management functions that execute these activities on a day-to-day basis.

     The BPO transition involves much more than re-designing an organizational structure. After key processes have been identified and BPOs have been assigned, there is still much work left to be done. This transformation effort has to be made sustainable, and the only way to do this is by correctly managing the change throughout the organization. The very basis to realizing this success resides in articulating the roles and responsibilities associated with process ownership. Without this type of framework, it is extremely difficult to assign individual accountability and to function in a veritable cross-functional, process-centric environment.

     All too often change management components are overlooked at the onset of business transformation initiatives; however, almost any executive who has gone through this type of transformation would agree that it is a critical component for success. One of the most important tool sets to facilitate a process transformation is change management tool sets.

     The early realism of change is a must in order to make the BPO transition successful. However, as with any effort, not all aspects will have to be realized and planned for up front. The key to realizing change is focusing your efforts after realizing that change is inevitable. It becomes easy for businesses to have far too many initiatives underway and, if left uncoordinated and without oversight, these initiatives can produce disorder and doubt across the organization.

     A BPO organization provides an opportunity to prune these issues associated with uncoordinated aspects of change. As responsibility and accountability become clear, initiatives become collaborative where outputs are known and the direction of improvement is no longer a distant goal but instead a realized and rationalized strategy.

     One of the most important things to note about process ownership is that BPO is not a solution that can be bought off the shelf. It should be a tailored solution that fits your organization’s culture, management styles, process maturity and strategy, performed by consultants that have significant management consulting and industry leadership experience, delivered at the highest possible quality-to-cost ratio.

     Clearly defining process ownership can help your organization with strategic planning and organizational design efforts around business process owners, performance management assessments, project portfolio analysis, and systems integration facilitating collaboration across the enterprise.

     Content contributed by NouvEON, a management consulting firm. Managing Consultant Chad Brady also contributed to this article. For more information, contact NouvEON’s BPO expert Anup Dashputre at adashputre@nouveon.com or 704-944-3155, or download a free copy of this BPO paper at www.nouveon.com/insights.

 

Anup Dashputre is a Senior Consultant at hiSoft Technology International Limited.
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