BPM Skills And Roles

It’s day 2 at Gartner BPM 2013, and after a fun night out at a Pegasystems customer dinner, then breakfast hearing about Oracle’s new BPM release, I’m in Bruce Robertson’s session on skills required for BPM, and the roles that require developing. Again, this is a “crossing the chasm” issue, where you just can’t get to level 3 in BPM maturity unless you deal with any BPM skills shortage that you have, and build out your BPM center of excellence (or competency center, as Gartner calls it). Based on Gartner’s research, BPM is a part-time job for most people related to a BPM project, with 74% spending less than 50% of their time on it across both business and IT. This is not surprising, since this includes subject matter experts, technical experts and others whose main job is not BPM, but provide some specific non-BPM expertise on the project.

So people are doing their regular day job, then also need to have some combination of operational skills to identify and execute process change, technical skills to build and evolve software solutions, and (most importantly) transformational skills to motivate people to change. A lot of organizations focus on building the operational and technical skills since that’s a bit more straightforward, but are lacking in the more evangelical transformational skills such as business vision, communication and change management. Some of these skills will be grown internally by training your existing staff, some may be available in other parts of your organization (such as HR), some will be acquired with new hires, and some will be rented from consultants like me.

Robertson showed a good chart of basic, intermediate and advanced skills for each of the operational, technical and transformational categories; he advises getting some of the advanced operational skills in as soon as possible to provide overall guidance. He listed the key BPM roles — BP director, BP architects, BP analysts, process owners, BP consultants (internal or external), subject matter experts — and listed what they do and why they’re important to your BPM efforts. There are a number of other roles, but these are the critical ones; he did, however, highlight the growing importance of data experts for both developing metrics and ensuring that analytics are properly in place. I’ve been talking about the necessary integration of process and data for some time, and fully agree with this; there’s a talk later today on BPM and MDM that I’ll be at to see more of what Gartner is seeing happening here.

He went back to the survey data that he showed at the start of the presentation indicating what BPM skills were most lacking in organizations, and overlaid the roles that would meet those skills on the chart: a good indicator of what roles you need to develop in order to address your skills gap. Skills might be in different roles, or combined, depending on the size of your BPM efforts and the skills of the individuals involved. He showed a sample RACI chart cross-referencing roles with specific BPM activities; again, a good tool for ensuring that you have all the activities covered by someone, and that they’re assigned to the right people.

He then pulled the skills/roles ideas into the need for a BPM COE (BPCC) as you gain process maturity as an organization; this has been covered by Gartner and many others (including me, at a presentation at DST’s conference last week) so I’ll just sum it up with Robertson’s top-level benefits:

  • Internal consultancy and expertise focal point
  • Improve project results
  • Better and more repeatable skills
  • Focus across business boundaries
  • Improved technology investment leverage

Only 34% of organizations surveyed have a BPCC, so it’s not surprising that 80% of organizations have not achieved level 3 maturity in spite of stated objectives to become process-driven. He presented some best practices for getting started with a BPCC — targeted around sponsorship, staffing, communicating, methodology and services — and a map for growing the BPCC over time from supporting/guiding projects to defining programs to providing input to strategy.

This presentation was a good refresh on some of the Gartner BPM skills/roles/COE discussions from past years, which had seemed a bit stagnant lately.

One thought on “BPM Skills And Roles”

  1. This is a great article about overcoming the gap in business process management skills.
    The benefits of such skills can be huge. As an example, a finance department that embraces a culture of business process improvement can streamline processes, produce higher quality and rationalized reports, reduce costs, increase analytical review time and improve internal customer service. In the Financial Close process of most organizations, however, as much as 85% of capacity can be devoted to low-value tasks: data gathering, data scrubbing, etc. This leaves only 15% of capacity remaining for the tasks that executives value most: analytical review & recommendations. The unexpected challenges along the way often undermine even the most determined efforts for those without the proper tools, and Robertson’s session seems to have indicated that most organizations lack the skills that they need to address these issues.
    Not every business process analyst will be able to transform the finance department in a short time frame, but even a small continuous improvement program will produce substantial rewards. Those more modest initiatives, however, can still encounter stumbling blocks and almost no one provides effective resources for business process improvement for free. These resources can include end-to-end business process map templates, KPIs, best practices and other improvement opportunities.
    Most business process analysts who want end-to-end Finance business process maps, as Kemsley suggests, will have to wheel and deal with executives and convince them to hire an expensive consulting firm to bring in the kinds of skills necessary to map their processes, with no guarantee that any real improvements will be made. Since the data contained the maps are so valuable, no consulting firm will make that data available even to their clients to try to replicate the work themselves. For business analysts with no executive-level decision making capabilities, however, some resources actually are available. This free online source provides Finance business process map templates, KPIs, best practices and other improvement opportunities: http://opsdog.com/improvement/finance/processmaps

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