By Alexander Peters, Ph.D.

6a00d8341c50bf53ef011571a26342970b-100wi Despite the economic situation, investments in BPM tools remain a key priority in many firms. Attracted by their performance-improvement potential, business stakeholders often adopt such tools from inside their functions and fail to recognize the overall impact at the enterprise level. The consequence? Many tool-based initiatives are counterproductive, making already intricate processes even more complex and difficult to support. As costs swell and projects become unmanageable, the responsibility of BPM falls onto the IT’s lap. As recent Forrester Leadership Board (FLB) research on “Driving Value With Process Improvement” illustrates, CIOs must step up to the mark and proactively embrace the responsibility for BPM-tools early in the life-cycle. To succeed, they must leverage their position in the enterprise as they:

  • Have a unique cross functional view of business processes. CIOs straddle all business units, developing portfolio of services tailored to each business function, and understanding each business users needs and expectations from technology. They are able to view processes which span all business functions, allowing them to disseminate best practices and knowledge, as well as being able to continuously refine processes. CIOs are business executives ideally placed to support the business in its process improvement initiatives.
  • Are uniquely positioned to manage BPM tools as shared enterprise resources. As BPM continues to grow, IT’s role is expanding to empower the business with tools required for business process improvement — whether it is for enhanced operational efficiency or increased business innovation. The BPM tools can range from cloud based process wikis, to widely established integration servers, through to mature business rules management functionality. IT staff with specialized BPM skills will work closely with business stakeholders to define and prioritize the features they require from BPM tools and coordinate their implementation for optimal results at the enterprise level.

Business executives will naturally guard processes that have a direct impact on departmental performance. CIOs should not fight for ownership of these processes, but instead provide business executives with process analysis, design, and modeling guidelines and tools. IT executives should look to establish a BPM centre of excellence to disseminate best practices and knowledge throughout the enterprise. By doing this, IT executives can boost their visibility in the organization, increasing its value and accelerating IT’s transformation to a service-oriented delivery model.

I encourage you to read the report titled “Forrester TechRadar™ For BP&A Pros: Business Process Management Suites, Q3 2009”, written by Forrester’s research team serving business process and applications professionals.