Whose Business is Process Improvement Anyway?

Whose Business is Process Improvement Anyway?

Business and IT are locked in a struggle over who controls the management of business process improvements. CIOs who seek to lead the charge have their work cut out for them


Just because it's called business process management doesn't mean IT has to take a backseat in these initiatives. As the city of Minneapolis, MTC Holdings and First Horizon National show, CIOs can successfully drive BPM if they encourage collaboration and understand the needs, concerns, pain points and existing processes of the business.

Looking to the future, Process Renewal Group's Burlton says CIOs have to become more proactive in business process management. It's in their best interest to do so because BPM is at the centre of so much IT activity. "Process is so important right now because it is the linchpin of all these other things we've talked about for years: ERP, CRM [and now SOA]. Process holds everything together," Burlton says.


How to drive process change without leading it

Some organizations see business ownership of business process management (BPM) as the only way process changes will take root. In those situations, what can IT do to ensure that it remains a part of BPM activities? Juniper Networks CIO Alan Boehme has an answer.

Boehme came up with an effective way to keep IT in lockstep with the business on process change initiatives while giving control over processes to the business. He recognized the need for a program manager who would live in a particular business function, such as sales or HR, and who would be responsible for driving process change within that function. This program manager would also serve as a single point of contact for the IT department on issues of integration, automation and IT support. And, thought Boehme, who better to serve in this role than one of his IT professionals, with his knowledge of systems and understanding of business processes and operations?

Boehme shared this idea with Juniper's executive VP of sales and customer service. He told his colleague that process improvements could be sped up if someone in IT focused entirely on the sales organization. If the sales group had a dedicated program manager, the CIO continued, it could more quickly make process changes to drive revenue and increase customer satisfaction. After thinking it over and talking with others in the sales organization, the executive VP agreed. He hired one of Boehme's IT directors into his organization as a program manager.

This new program manager has experience supporting Juniper's sales and customer service teams. Now that he's a sales employee, he has the credibility to drive process change from within. At the same time, his understanding of the IT department lets him work well with it on mapping processes to systems and detailing the integration points between systems. It's a best-of-both-worlds, win-win situation.

Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

More about Agile SoftwareBlockbusterBusiness Information ServicesCity BankHISJuniper NetworksJuniper NetworksOptimal SolutionsUnisys AustraliaVantage Point

Show Comments