People should be at the heart of business process management. It’s no secret. The pace of change and innovation is accelerating and many businesses are struggling to keep up. Operations are becoming more complex. This article outlines seven roles that play a part in creating a healthy change and improvement culture.
7 Process Roles
With large teams spread across many offices, in different cities and in different time zones it can be hard for team members to collaborate, share and learn from each other. Yet this focus on collaboration and improvement is more important now than ever.
In an effort to keep up, many organizations are using business processes as a language to describe their operations and drive continuous improvement. The result is a renewed focus on process management technology, improvement methodologies like Six Sigma and lean, and process notation standards like BPMN.
One aspect that deserves more focus, however, is the role people play in creating the right conditions for a collaborative culture of change across an organization. It is no longer good enough to run improvement initiatives, to capture process knowledge at great expense, and to just ‘hope’ that changes will be operationalized and sustained.
Technology will only get you so far. Organizations need to create the right environment and structure so that teams are motivated to participate, and are personally invested in sustaining ongoing change and improvement.
One aspect that deserves more focus is the role people play.
7 process roles which power a culture of positive change. Identifying and implementing the right roles and responsibilities is fundamental to support continuous improvement and a positive, collaborative culture. For best results, teams should be armed with clear roles, responsibilities and simple, accessible process knowledge. These seven roles each play a part in creating a healthy change and improvement culture:
- Process Participant: Process participants are involved in the process and are the ones who need to get it right. Often they deliver the customer experience, the real-life work which means they’re in a position to contribute valuable insights and ideas.
- Process Expert: Process experts manage a process on behalf of its owner day-to-day. They have a detailed understanding of the process and respond to improvement suggestions, making sure the information stays current. They co-ordinate with the stakeholders on any problems.
- Process Owner: Process owners have overall responsibility for a process. They’re accountable for the process operating efficiently and continuously improving, but they’re not necessarily using it day-to-day and are not the expert. It is worth noting that this role can often be a barrier to change.
- Process Champion: Process champions drive process improvement – they’re the core of a change culture. They give guidance and advice to the experts and owners, and set the standards and expectations within the organization. They promote the process vision set by the chief process officer (CPO) through regular communication, and create and mentor the delivery of work plans. They review processes with the experts and monitor improvement suggestions.
- Chief process officers: Chief process officers (CPO) provide the overall process vision. Ideally at executive level, they need to visibly support improvement efforts and empower the process champions. Although this is usually a low activity role, it is vital in creating a collaborative change and improvement culture.
- Improvement Specialist: Improvement specialists specialize in the tools and technologies. They apply advanced process techniques and methodologies to help teams extract insights and coordinate improvement initiatives, like lean, Kaizen and Six Sigma.
- Key Stakeholders and Domain Specialists: This group of people are those affected by and dependent on the processes. A process could potentially involve a risk manager who relies on certain controls within the process; compliance managers who ensure external requirements are met; enterprise architects who support the process with technology and information; human capital specialists who ensure teams have the right skills and experience. All these key stakeholders need to collaborate on process changes.
Secure dynamic stakeholder management with the RACI framework. RACI is a structured framework that can help you do this very effectively. Understanding the importance of people and roles in sustaining collaborative change and improvement within an organization is the first step. Next, figuring out the role of each of these stakeholders requires a process-byprocess understanding.
- Responsible: Who is responsible? Participants.
- Accountable: Who is accountable? Owners and experts.
- Consulted: Who needs to be consulted? Those who are affected.
- Informed: Who needs to be informed? Anyone dependent on the process.
Appreciate the value of collaboration and communication.
The RACI framework helps determine the level of involvement and communication appropriate for each stakeholder for process changes. Don’t settle for just tracking RACI tables for each process. Rather, ensure that communications are managed through this table. The right tools can enable real-time updates and changes.
That way stakeholders can see the changes that are happening, how they are affected, and how or if they need to be involved in the change… all in just one glance.
Make sure the chief process officer is visible and people know their name.
Executive team behavior is the silver bullet.
The behavior of the executive team plays a huge role in promoting co-operation. When staff see the executive team collaborating, it filters down through the organization – so make sure the chief process officer is visible and people know their name.
No measures equate to no importance.
When people don‘t know which processes they are involved in or where to find that information, it gives them the excuse not to engage. Just like KPIs, the perception is if you’re not measuring it, it’s not important and will fall to the bottom of people’s list of priorities.
Give your staff a voice. An effective feedback tool is important, or you could end up with an undercurrent of complaints and disengagement.
Give your staff a voice.
Process Improvement Fundamentals Checklist
Now that you know what the seven critical process roles are, see how your organization stacks up when it comes to the building blocks of an improvement culture. The brief process improvement fundamentals checklist on the following page can help you evaluate your company’s process culture.
If you have most of the fundamentals in place, congratulations – you’re well on your way to a culture of positive change.
If you still have work to do, remember, sustainable process improvement isn’t something you can just turn on – it takes a team effort. Invest in a structured approach, with process champions empowered by an active chief process officer, and they’ll drive sustained improvement.
Check out the process improvement fundamentals checklist below:
- Do you have a chief process officer (CPO)?
- Would most of the organization know who the CPO is?
- Do you have process owners for key processes?
- Is there a current list of process statuses per owner?
- Is there a simple way for process participants to record process feedback?
- Are stakeholders aware of their impact on processes?
- Are your process stakeholders (e.g. risk/ compliance managers) promptly notified of key process changes?
- Do your teams know where to find process information?
- Does your team know exactly which processes they are involved in?
- Do you have KPIs for key process outcomes?