Ultimus: Janelle Hill Keynote

I’m giving my keynote here at the Ultimus user conference in about an hour, but it’s always a pleasure to listen to Janelle Hill of Gartner so I’ve decided that I’ve reviewed my notes enough already. She’s discussing the need for business process competency centers, and how you end up with a series of BPM departmental silos if you don’t consider a competency center. This is a perfect launching point for my “Future of BPM” talk coming up, since one of the challenges that I list at the beginning is siloed departmental BPM systems that exist, in part, because of the lack of a competency center.

So what does a competency center provide? Think of it as a sort of internal consulting group or shared service, a one-stop shop for everything BPM: services, tools and standards. It’s there to support the activities that help to enable and scale BPM adoption. The main goal is to create a repeatable approach for rolling out successful BPM projects, which will may include methodologies (such as Lean), tools (such as modeling tools) and even a repository of shared implementation artifacts.

She walked through the pros and cons of different possible models for how to organize a BPCC: reporting to business, reporting to IT, or a blended model sitting between the two areas; like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the one in the middle is just right. There’s also an issue of whether to have a centralized BPCC or multiple decentralized centers, and how to evolve the BPCC over time as the BPM maturity within the organization increases. She had a few case studies — one of whom happened to be in the room — for BPCC implementations.

An interesting idea that she put forward is establishing a career path in business process competency, with three tiers of participant types ranging from business analysts up to a director/VP of BPCC. Having this structure makes it easier both for external recruiting as well as bringing people into the BPCC from other areas of the organization. She sees the competency center as a training group that people rotate through, not an exclusive club that you never leave once you’re in, which makes it more of an integral part of the organization.

Lessons that Gartner has learned from their customers about implementing a BPCC:

  • Too much bureaucracy in the BPCC hinders BPM adoption
  • Plan for the end state, but roll out as needed — don’t wait until the entire BPCC is done before starting on projects, and don’t built a competency center just for the sake of doing so
  • Sponsorship is critical, particularly for funding
  • Education and training take time and money

She finished up with a set of recommendations for implementing the BPCC, the services and engagement model, and how it fits into the organization now and going forward.

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