Here is a follow-up to Connie’s blog discussing the role deep dive project (see Connie’s blog “Business Process Professionals Crave Business/IT Partnership, Process Frameworks, Skills Development And Peer to Peer Networking”). In her blog, Connie talked about specific responsibilities within the business process professional ranks. Altogether, she identified six sub-roles for business process professionals and gave them colorful titles: 1) “stakeholder;” 2) “change agent;” 3) “guru;” 4) “prodigy;” 5) “wannabe;” and 6) “operator.”

Connie and I are now working on a document, describing these roles in more detail. We are discussing their evolution in relation with the process maturity level of the organizations in which they act. To help business executives recruit and develop the right kind of individuals for the emerging roles — stakeholders, change agents, gurus and prodigies — we have developed also two synthetic “high-potential” candidate profiles for these roles and give them a name:


  • Brian Porter – has 15-20+ years experience in business and IT; holds a senior position within the business process ranks; has deep knowledge of one or more core business processes; is a great communicator and big picture thinker; and of course is familiar with Forrester and uses Forrester Waves to make smart technology choices.
  • Briana Porter – is younger than Brian but not less experienced, as she acts with determination on building process and managerial skills. Briana leads business process improvement projects and is: 1) determined and focused on getting ahead; 2) has a voracious appetite for networking; 3) participates in formal mentoring programs either inside or outside the company; and 4) is actively enrolled in higher learning programs to advance her career.

I have met more than 40 real “Brians” and “Brianas” face-to-face since I refocused my research agenda on Business Process Professionals three months ago. Most of them have either cultivated their process skills working inside business units or for professional services firms. In contrast, very few are former business analysts or IT/IS-managers, who grew through the ranks of internal IT/IS functions. And even fewer are enthusiastic about driving business performance and process improvements from inside IT/IS organizations. They argue that IT/IS lacks the empowerment, credibility, and reputation to lead the process transformation their firms need, and that is probably true for their organizations.

In today’s context the discipline of BPM is about performance and process improvements across the enterprise value chain. As Tom Coleman, CIO and chief process officer at Sloan Valve, said during a recent interview "No single functional department owns end-to-end order-to-cash. IT can help a company see something that is hard to see." (see “Driving Value With Process Improvement”). Indeed, at least in theory IT/IS is a good place to drive BPM initiatives across multiple business units. But what if IT/IS does not have the business’ acceptance and support from the business to take this responsibility? Where should senior executives accommodate Brian and Briana to effectively lead today’s BPM cross-enterprise initiatives? What do you think?