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Process roles that support good governance

Process governance is the establishment of leadership and management that keeps an organization’s business processes on track. It covers the building of strategies and metrics and the monitoring of their development over time.

Process governance is the means by which stakeholders’ interests are taken care of, and continuous improvement is supported at every level.

Of course, that can’t happen in a vacuum. It’s driven and delivered by the efforts of numerous people across an organization. In order for process governance to really be successful though, there are several key roles that need to work together to ensure consistently effective outcomes.

Process champions

A champion traditionally fights on behalf of others, leading from the front for the good of their cause. A process champion is no different. They are the ones that set the standard for process excellence and sound the call for others to join them.

While the vision for your organization’s process management might be set at the executive level, it’s brought to life by the process champion who keeps it central in everyone’s minds.

Process champions provide guidance and motivation. They keep communications flowing, ensuring process goals aren’t lost in the day-to-day business. They monitor and review the improvement of processes, working with those who know the processes best to ensure the right changes are implemented and gathering people around the need for continuous improvement.

They’re the mentors and cheerleaders, and fly the flag for process excellence at the head of process governance.

Process owners

While champions direct people’s attention to their processes, it’s process owners that actually take responsibility for them. These are the accountable people, those who are empowered to make changes in procedure and practice and held responsible for how effectively those processes operate.

The role of the process owner is important, as it creates accountability for change. These people are not necessarily the most experienced with any particular process though. In fact, they’re probably not subject matter experts. Their role is to oversee the overall effectiveness of the process – and possibly groups of processes – within the wider organization. For specific process expertise, they rely on process experts.

Process experts

Process experts aren’t those people trained in Lean and Six Sigma or are qualified Kaizen masters. They’re the people who have hands-on knowledge of your business processes. They understand the details in a day-to-day sense, managing the process at the execution level.

These are your subject matter experts, and they provide the working knowledge of processes that can make sense of improvement ideas and implement changes. If problems arise, they’re the mechanics that get under the hood to fix what’s broken and report back to the owners with what needs to be done.

That’s an important partnership, too. While process owners have the authority to make changes, they often don’t understand a process at the level that process experts do, so need that advice to implement improvements. Without experts, owners can inadvertently get in the way of better processes.

The Support Squad

All these layers of process governance go a long way towards a healthy process culture, but they can’t do it alone. Process excellence is a culture, not a program, and it needs everyone on board to be effective.

Here’s where some of the other roles in the organization can contribute to great governance.

  • Executives

Process improvement should be a top-down initiative. If C-suite executives don’t have some visibility – and voice – on process management, it probably won’t go far.

  • Professionals

There is always a place for those who live and breathe process improvement. Lean, Kaizen and numerous other disciplines provide laser-focused tools for improving processes. Process automation adds exponential efficiency when applied by those who know how to leverage its strengths, and they can work closely with owners and experts to make those changes work.

  • Teams

Good processes are everyone’s business. Process participants are those who use the processes in their everyday work. Their role is to steward the practices well and bring to light suggestions about how they can be improved.

Good governance relies on people investing in process excellence at every level. It isn’t just the domain of a few, but a cooperative effort across the board. When an organization invests in roles that emphasize good process management, that becomes a natural part of the culture, and process improvement becomes everyday business for everyone.



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Thomas Kohlenbach

Thomas Kohlenbach is a senior product specialist at Nintex, the global standard for process management and automation. He has over 12 years’ experience implementing initiatives related to continuous improvement (Kaizen/Six Sigma), change management and system integration, across automotive and financial services industries. Thomas is a passionate business improvement advocate who has helped organizations around the world to decrease operational costs and drive cultural change.

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