We explain why you need a business process governance framework and what elements you’ll want to include in yours.
How many times have you needed current-state process documentation for your company, only to find that documented processes don’t exist? Business process governance frameworks are a step toward ensuring that process documents exist in your organization, they exist in consistent formats and styles, and they don’t become outdated while stranded on someone’s hard drive.
Simply put, these plans are written documents that provide an end-to-end framework for the people and technology needed to achieve your business objectives. But the plan does more than that: It also defines how you will manage changes to your processes. In other words, it is the process for managing your processes.
Setting up business process governance frameworks may feel overwhelming — especially when your company faces more urgent challenges — but investing time in them will make you better able to adapt for the future. Additionally, they deliver numerous benefits that will save you time and money.
In this blog, we’ll discuss the main benefits of process governance frameworks and give you a high-level overview of what to include in your approach to business process governance. We hope you’ll understand better why process governance frameworks are important while inspiring you to start creating your own.
Benefits of Business Process Governance Frameworks
In addition to avoiding that painful, head-slapping moment when you discover your organization has no process documentation, a process governance framework centralizes all your documents. Centralization increases access and knowledge management within your company — all of which better prepares you to implement and manage change. When employees know where to go when they need information fast – and can be sure that they are looking at the “single source of truth” – they will feel more confident about modifying their processes to meet new challenges.
However, centralization is less powerful if the documents themselves are not consistent. Documents created in multiple formats (PowerPoint, Visio, Excel, Word and so on) exist as a combination of swim lanes, SIPOCs and procedures or simply lack stylistic consistency, leading to errors and frustration. A tool like the APQC Process Classification Framework (PCF) coupled with mapping techniques will make it easier to get everyone on the same page so that your process governance plan eliminates confusion.
Business process governance frameworks also deliver transparency. Because they are more easily accessible enterprise-wide, employees have insight into their roles in each process — and who is responsible for identifying necessary changes in processes, designing them and maintaining them. Transparency also allows you to have quantifiable measures that track performance and establish a basis for continuous improvement and help your processes stay current and relevant.
As your organization realizes these and other benefits, the value of your investment in a process governance document will become increasingly apparent — especially as employees begin to identify reusable process flows across the enterprise in areas such as customer service and invoicing. Such areas often include repetitive tasks that are good candidates for robotic process automation (RPA). Process governance can make that process easier, freeing up employees for more meaningful and rewarding work.
The Three Elements of Your Process Governance Framework
Because your process governance framework will establish how your business documents everything it does, you must consider people and technology as well as the process of the governance plan itself. Below are key considerations in each of these areas:
- How will you define and communicate process owners’ and process stewards’ roles and responsibilities?
- Who will have the authority to make changes to the governance plan and individual processes?
- What skills will people need to identify and make process improvement changes? Once you have identified those skills, a formal skills assessment test may be helpful.
- How will your change management plan incorporate communications, any needed training and stakeholder management?
- Where will you store process documentation so employees can retrieve it quickly (SharePoint, BlueWorks live, the company intranet, other cloud solutions)?
- What mapping tool or tools will you use?
- What file naming conventions and version control definitions will you apply?
- What will your change control process be?
- Will you centralize or decentralize your governance model? Even if your documents are centralized, a decentralized model of governance may be the best approach as it empowers employees to make decisions more efficiently.
- How frequently does your governance team need to meet with business teams to identify needed documentation changes and make updates? What criteria do you use to prioritize changes?
- How frequently do you need to review and update processes? This will depend on the maturity of the process, implementation of new technology, upgrades of existing technology, changing customer requirements and so on.
Businesses run on processes. But unless you have a governance framework for managing the many documents that determine how your processes should work, you put yourself at risk for confusion at best and failure at worst.
But with your process governance framework in place, you can make it the first step of any new business or IT initiative. Process governance can then become part of your culture, which will have not only hard benefits of lower costs and higher revenue but also soft benefits such as better teamwork, higher employee satisfaction and lower turnover — benefits you can’t ignore in today’s tight job market.