BPM Straight Up - Separating Fact from Fiction

7 key roles you need in your BPM Center of Excellence (Part 6)

Dan Morris
Contributor: Dan Morris
Posted: 11/17/2013

Building the Foundations for a BPM CoE – Part 6

This column is the sixth in my series on building a Business Process Management (BPM) Center of Excellence (CoE). The series has discussed foundation issues up to this point and now moves to look at the type of staff and skills that are needed in a successful BPM CoE.

People are the key to success

Business change is about people. Finding the right people and skills, is the foundation of success for the BPM CoE.

A BPM CoE is where knowledge, creativity and experience on business transformation, business improvement, problem resolution, performance management and more all come together. To be successful, the sponsor and corporate management must understand this staffing requirement and fund it. The people in the BPM CoE are internal consultants and ambassadors rolled into one. They are highly skilled professional practitioners of a discipline that helps companies evolve and become more competitive.

Creating the right foundation and marketing program discussed in previous columns in this series are the first steps in building a successful BPM CoE. Finding and engaging the right people for the BPM CoE will be the next important factor in building a successful BPMS based BPM capability.

Internal experts in all things BPM

No news to those of us who have tried to find solid BPM professionals with broad experience - these people are not easy to find or build. They must be knowledgeable on both transformation and improvement, and they must be creative, flexible, driven to succeed and committed to continuous learning and personal evolution in their profession. A tall order, but in any type of CoE, the staff members should be the best available. Too much is at risk for anything less than the best you can get.

The managers and staff in the BPM CoE are, by definition, the company subject matter experts (SMEs) in all things BPM. That means that they are experts in what the company is doing today with BPM and with what is going on with the BPM discipline, in the company’s industry, and in a broader case, with BPMS technology. This is a tough requirement since many people only know what their company views BPM as providing.

In building the right capability in the BPM CoE, I suggest that the BPM CoE manager look first for a few experts who have achieved certification from the Association of Business Process Professionals (ABPMP) – the largest professional BPM association in the world. Their Certified Business Process Professional (CBPP) certification is the only practitioners’ certification and is a true test of knowledge in all facets of BPM. Unlike certificates of course completions, a CBPP certification is independent of any course work and is a test of knowledge, skill, proficiency, and experience.

Because the BPM CoE will be staffed by both senior business process professionals and more junior practitioners, I also suggest that CoE management set ABPMP Certification as a goal for all their staff members. In addition to expertise in BPM, the BPM CoE will need to create or hire people with an expert level understanding of the BPMS that will be used. For these more technical staff members (experts on the set up and use of your BPMS), I recommend that vendor product certification be added to the ABPMP certification.

These people will need to work with the various specialty areas in IT (such as Data Architecture, User Interface Design, and Infrastructure Management) to create collaborative standards and approaches that tie the BPMS supported BPM activities seamlessly to the various IT development, testing, and "go live" requirements. To do this, the BPM CoE staff will need at least a basic understanding of the current IT environment, its applications and the data that is supported in each application.

Getting the right staff in place

Once your BPM CoE has been approved, you will need to deliver on promises. Here is where the rubber meets the road. I suggest that you consider the following staff profiles. Also, when reviewing the positions/roles below please look past the titles and align to the descriptions – titles vary by organization and we find that the same role may have many titles.

Business side of the BPM CoE:

BPM Architect – Very senior BPM professional with at least 8 years of real experience on different projects doing:

  • General business operations and finance
  • Business process definition
  • Process to workflow modeling
  • Problem identification / resolution design
  • Operational and workflow improvement (measurable)
  • Rules identification / definition
  • Business requirements definition
  • Detail business operational redesign – at all levels – process, sub process, activity, task
  • BPMS application design and generation (understand what must be done to support application generation and how to work with the technical BPMS staff to deliver successful BPMS solutions)
  • Data use identification with data flow / transform modeling
  • The use of web services, data models, technical requirements and user interface design

This person, or these people, will need to have worked on a true transformation project and a variety of improvement projects that were successful. BPM strategy experience would also be helpful here.

Business Process Analyst – Experienced BPM practitioner with a minimum of 3 years of BPM/BPMS experience. This experience should include:

  • Interviewing business managers and staff member (know how to pull the right information out of the people being interviewed) and conducting workshops with business managers
  • BPM techniques (for modeling, rules definition, data use definition, data collection, process / work flow analysis and redesign, business operation testing, etc.)
  • Building and analyzing current operational models
  • Business rule definition and entry into a rules modeling tool
  • Defining problems with cost, quality, effectiveness, efficiency and failure to meet with KPI targets – tracking the problems to their sources and determining how they can be eliminated
  • Designing performance management models
  • Redesigning business operations and application support
  • Defining application requirements for the business and creating technical spec for the applications
  • Simulating the outcome of changes in process and workflow (manually or with a BPMS)
  • Creating creative designs and approaches to solving operating problems

These process analysts will have worked on different operational improvement projects and should have a firm understanding of BPM and BPMS information needs and pitfalls. Although not a technical specialist, the Business Process Analyst will have a firm understanding of IT concepts related to application definition, web services definition and use, user interface design, application interfacing, and data use modeling.

Business Process Modeler or Business Analyst – Experienced in interviewing business staff and in building models and identifying problems in collaboration with the people they interview. This is an entry level role in the BPM CoE and this person will be expected to know major BPM concepts, basic IT application capability concepts and business operating concepts (the various business functions in a company and how they work together).

Business SME – This person will not be part of the BPM CoE, but SMEs will need to be identified for each of the business areas the BPM CoE will work with. Their responsibility will be to insure that the BPM CoE team talks to the right people, gets access to the right information and understands the business operation and its real problems and needs. For business redesign, the Business SME is responsible for making certain the new business operation design is feasible and the construction and deployment plan considers all of the business constraints, timing issues, etc.

Business Architect – If the company will look at business operating design, and if the BPM CoE will deal with truly transformational projects, consideration should be given to adding one or more Business Architects to the staff. This person is invaluable in looking at the bigger picture and how the business itself will function. The Business Architect will work at the strategic level and help management consider how the business operation should change to deliver strategy and meet goals. This guides the design of business operating models that show what is to be done, where, why, how, and by whom. These operating models drive operational decisions and ultimately process change.

BPMS technical side:

BPMS SME – The BPMS must be set up properly when it is installed. That can be contracted to the vendor and a consulting firm with the right expertise. This should begin with the definition of a formal architecture defining how the BPMS will fit into your current technical operating environment and how it will be deployed – number of users, size and distribution of servers, communications requirements, etc.

At the end of this install there should be a formal test and a turn over process. If your IT group has standards for this turn over, you will need to use them. Once installed and ready for use, the internal BPMS SME will need to take responsibility for the setup and use of the BPMS for each project. This includes working with the IT specialists to define data use, application integration, mobility computing use, legacy application functionality reuse, etc.

To do this, the BPMS SME must be an expert in the technical side of the Business Process Management Suite (BPMS) that you select. He or she must know how each module works, what is needed to feed it, how to use it and how to set it up. Finally, they need to understand Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) technology and architectures and how they affect the design and generation of BPMS applications and their use. Yep, a tall order.

BPMS Developer - This is a BPMS technician who understands the BPMS tool suite that you have licensed and how to tie data schema’s, rule, internal databases, etc. to set up and use the modeling tools. This person must also understand how the BPMS can be used and what it can and cannot do so he or she can help the business analysts and modelers to resolve use issues.

The BPMS Developer must know how to define and code rules, how to convert and use business models to generation applications in the BPMS and how to interface to legacy data and applications. And, they must know when to define external Java module use and how to tie in web services.

Relationships between the BPM CoE and other parts of the business to tie into needed skills

As strong as the staff described above will be, they will not know everything about everything in the business or in the IT shop. This is where the creation of close collaborative relationships comes in. Building these relationships will begin with the VP, Director, or whatever title is given to the head of the BPM CoE and how he or she will reach out to business managers and specialty groups in the IT Department - Data Base Analysts, User Interface Designers, Interface specialists, legacy application managers, infrastructure management and more.

This initial collaboration will then require a lot of care a feeding as the BPM CoE brings together technical resources and skills from the IT Department with SMEs from the business areas to form the collaborative teams needed for success.

Now for my disclaimer. These descriptions are meant to be a high level look at the type of resources needed to staff a BPM CoE in a BPMS supported BPM environment. They are not meant to be all inclusive or detailed position descriptions.

With that behind me, I want to stress that the capability in your BPM CoE and its success will be directly related to the people you staff it with. I have seen BPM CoEs staffed by people who are not busy (not assigned to anything). I have seen them staffed by anyone who will volunteer. I have also seen them staffed by technical staff – mainly Enterprise Architects. And, I have seen them staffed mainly by Business Architects. I have also seen the limitations this staffing places on the BPM CoE. The fact is that the BPM COE requires skill diversity, an understanding of how business in general functions, creativity, and a desire to solve tough problems.

If you put your best in your BPM CoE, it will pay strong benefits. If not, you will get back in proportion to what you give. The investment is really long term and can build over time. The key is that if you do not have a mix of the right skills, your solutions will be less than they could be and thus your benefits will not be as attractive as they could be. Obtaining this mix of skills can initially be obtained from external consultants, but should eventually become a mix of internal and external staff. This will give you the ability to adjust the staff to your needs while creating a core group of internal experts who know your business, your BPMS and your IT environment.

As always I welcome your comments and opinions.

Read the full series:

Dan Morris
Contributor: Dan Morris
Posted: 11/17/2013


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