We have written extensively about adopting a process management structure to drive performance improvement through an organization. Best practice performance is enabled through clear accountability established at the business system and process level so that work can be actively managed and improved to create the desired outcome. Brief summaries of the Business System and Process Owners follow.
Business System Owners
A Business System consists of a collection of business processes that align to deliver the goals of the system. There are typically 12 Business Systems in any organization. These include the Enterprise Management, Finance, Human Resources, Equipment Management, Facilities Management, Information Technology, Product Development, Sales and Marketing, Operations, Supplier Management, Customer Service, and the Improvement Management System.
The Business System Owner is typically a member of the executive team with the following organizational responsibilities for workflow improvement.
- Creating an overall environment for successful development, deployment and continuous improvement of their assigned system.
- Establishing an effective and meaningful system and process metrics.
- Assigning process ownership, establishing and approving roles and scope of responsibility.
- Working actively with other Business System Owners to ensure that system and process goals are aligned with the strategic goals of the enterprise.
- Establishing and actively participating in planned, periodic reviews of the overall effectiveness of their assigned system, which includes taking any necessary corrective or preventive action to ensure continued success.
Business Process Owners
A Business Process consists of a series of tasks that receives a product or service (the input) from a supplier, adds value to that product or service through some transformation (the process), and then delivers a product or service of more value (output) to a customer. All business transactions take place through business processes that connect in a series to form Business Systems. We typically find somewhere between 8-16 business processes per Business System.
A Business Process Owner is designated by the System Owner to be responsible for the development, maintenance, and enhancement of a specific process within the Business System. The Process Owner should have a clear understanding of and be closely involved with the assigned process on a daily basis. It is not necessary to select a supervisor for this role. For example, it can be beneficial to choose a subject matter expert.
The owner is assigned a specific process of the business system and is responsible for documenting, developing and continuously improving the system. If an employee wishes to change the process, that person must work through the Process Owner. The owner also works actively and cooperatively with other linked process owners and subject matter experts to ensure enterprise-wide continuity and optimization. Characteristics of a good Process Owner include,
- Flexibility and good people skills. A good owner wants to share knowledge with others. It is important to be objective and open to suggestions for change.
- Knowledge. The owner must have a strong understanding of the technical and practical aspects of the process and be able to explain and educate others.
- Commitment. The owner must care and ensure that the process equals best practice.
Process Owners have vital responsibilities, including,
- Developing, deploying and managing business processes.
- Implementing and monitoring metrics.
- Improving process performance.
- Making changes to the process.
- Driving towards system improvement goals.
- Periodically presenting to Leadership the current state of improvement and opportunities.
- Representing their co-workers during internal assessments and third-party assessments (i.e. customers, Sarbanes Oxley, ISO, etc.).
Business System and Process Owners are Best Positioned to Drive Improvement
Organizations must rethink responsibilities in terms of business process and flow of work. They then also rethink reporting relationships according to logical handoffs created by connected business process boundaries. In doing this, leadership can align the organization structure with the flow of work. Those who do the work should define and improve the work! Implementing business process structure means…
- Distributing the workload and seeking participation
- Actively engaging employees closest to the work
- Getting the right employees who WANT to own a process
- Giving them training & capabilities to succeed
- Providing needed knowledge & information
- Making them responsible and accountable
- Increasing transparency/trust
- Rewarding the winners for a job well done
Challenge the way you think about work.
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- How to map business processes
- How to create aligned business systems
- How to transform your business