Adding value through global process ownership: A PEX Network guide

PEX Network speaks with industry professionals from the likes of Rolls-Royce and Edwards Vacuum to break down the role of global process owners and understand how they add value to an organization

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Adam Jeffs

The global process owner (GPO) is emerging as a leading and critical role in many organizations, responsible for the management of people, processes and change, three key tenets of a successful and agile brand. GPOs own end-to-end processes across all business units of an organization regardless of geographic location or department.

The importance of the GPO is becoming well publicized as organizations begin to recognize the enterprise-wide value they can add by pushing for consistency and collaboration across a business. A GPO has wide-ranging responsibilities, including strategic and operational management, standardization, coordination and improvement of processes and is tasked with managing the standardization and optimization of the processes they are responsible for. They represent a focal point within an organization for continuous improvement and implementation of change for their processes.

There are many benefits to the implementation of a GPO model. It is the structure through which GPOs coordinate and adapt processes across an entire organization, which can facilitate desirable outcomes such as consistency and organizational agility.

The successful implementation of a GPO model is not without its challenges, however. It includes selecting the correct GPO and ensuring that they have the right tools and structure to be successful in their role. There are many considerations that organizations must take into account when switching to a centralized model for process management.

This guide draws on insights, advice and examples from GPO experts from the likes of Rolls-Royce and Edwards Vacuum to provide some clarity on the necessary steps, benefits and challenges of appointing a GPO. This guide will help organizations understand what a successful GPO model looks like and how to go about implementing one.

How a global process owner adds value

The benefits of implementing a GPO model are extensive as it provides a single, centralized channel for process owners across an organization to drive innovation, standardization and optimization of the process they are responsible for. A GPO works to break down silos and geographical barriers across an organization, to achieve the goal of a single process with defined rules and procedures.

Matt Evans, global process owner, accounts payable at multinational engineering company Rolls-Royce believes GPO models provide oversight on a process.

“Without global process ownership models, processes are only managed by standalone projects, with no continuous oversight of the end-to-end way of working,” Evans explains. “This creates a ‘weak link’ effect in processes, whereby investment is made in one area and others are left without investment, which can cause delays and poor end-to-end performance.”

Tasking one person with the overall coordination and alignment of process improvement across an organization can present some issues if there is no defined procedure in place for changing and optimizing processes. Gerry Lyons, global process owner, service processes at global equipment manufacturer Edwards Vacuum, offers a breakdown of three key steps for organizations to ensure they are tackling process improvement in the right way.

  1. Detail the objective – The process owner needs to have a very clear understanding – ideally supported by documentation – of the process they are looking to change and what the desired outcome is.
  2. Gap analysis – It is important to identify any areas where an existing process does not support the desired objective and provide clarity around the nature and impact of these gaps.
  3. Set targets – The process owner needs to set key milestones or validation points to work through to ensure that the process delivers on the desired objective, and to stay on track toward that goal.

Finding the right approach to the GPO model

GPO models will differ greatly from one organization to another, depending on resources, organizational structure, objectives and the process owners themselves. In order for a GPO to be successful in adding enterprise-wide value and implementing changes that facilitate process improvement, it is important the organizational framework be aligned to empower and enable process owners to make those changes as Edwards Vacuum’s Lyons remarks.

“When you are selecting a GPO they need to be set up for success,” Lyons says. “They need to have the support of the management team to ensure that they can deliver what is expected of them.”

Having the right procedure and structure in place for improving processes gives a good foundation for a GPO, but it is also important to be confident that the individual selected has the requisite skills and experience. Rolls-Royce’s Evans offers three vital tips for ensuring that a potential GPO is up to the task.

  1. Expertise – Organizations need to look for someone who has depth and knowledge in the relevant processes and tools, as the value of a GPO is that they can bring expertise to the process. There will always be the need for subject-matter experts to be brought in as no GPO can know everything, but the value of a GPO increases when they understand the pitfalls and challenges of process change.
  2. Cross-industry experience – To truly challenge the status quo, a GPO needs to have wider experience of multiple industries to open up opportunities that were previously thought to be impossible.
  3. End-to-end thinking – It is easy to improve one specific area or process at the expense of another, but this short-sighted thinking does not facilitate global process improvement. The ideal GPO will think and act end-to-end, widening the view of processes to a global level and considering the implications of every decision across an organization.

How change is implemented

According to Lyons, one of the greatest challenges for a GPO within a global organization is ensuring that processes are aligned across regions. He remarks that global customers expect globally aligned processes that deliver a consistent outcome.

This can be facilitated through collaboration between teams by scheduling regular calls or meetings with the purpose of ensuring process change requests are well defined across every region to drive consistency. One of the more successful initiatives at Edwards Vacuum has been the standardization of training materials.

Lyons explains: “Standardization of training materials is an area that we have done a lot of work on We have found that it not only helps to get new staff up to speed quicker but it also gives employees more freedom to progress and move across regions for new roles within the company and it makes it easier for them to adapt.”

Lessons learned

Standardizing and optimizing a process across an organization, particularly a global one, is not without its challenges. The right GPO has the ability to drive enterprise-wide value and improvements if they have the right mind-set and experience. Organizations that follow the advice provided in this guide when selecting a GPO and implementing a GPO model can achieve global consistency of outcomes and will set themselves apart from the competition.