Last but not least is that getting to a BPM supporting cultural organization is an extremely challenge. A well thought through CoE can be very instrumental here. See also my blog below.
One of my favourite systems architecting heuristics is “In introducing technological and social change, how you do it is often more important than what you do”.
Imagine – an enterprise wants to employ BPM in all its potentials. Obviously, a BPM COE is mandatory. BUT, the BPM COE must work as a rocket booster to quickly lift an enterprise to a proper level of maturity and then die.
So, the only BPM COE responsibility is that everything from the excellent Walter’s list must be embedded into enterprise standing practices.
Important, at first. But should work to make itself redundant. Then, of course there's a question of how it's setup, who should be in it, it's funding model. Sigh... wish there was a manual for this...... wait a minute....
Here's one @RogerTregear prepared earlier:http://info.leonardo.com.au/establishing-the-office-of-business-process-management
"Why a BPM COE?" (Great question; but kind of acronym-heavy. If only we had a Chico Marx to answer, along the lines of "Why a duck?")
On a more serious note, certainly a BPM COE is a necessity; any demanding management and technical domain requires focus. A BPM COE is the usual name given for the organizational entity focused on organization-wide BPM management and technology leadership. And there's lots of discussion available about "the importance of executive sponsorship" and "KPIs" and "clear strategy" and "process ownership" etc. etc.
Two questions though:
1. BPM COE AS JUST ANOTHER FUNCTIONAL GROUP -- What, if anything is unique about a BPM Center of Excellence concerning "BPM" specifically, compared to any other organizational functional? Sometimes we talk about "BPM" and before long we are discussing the whole gamut of management practices. And then the idea of "BPM" loses any specific analytic or management value. So let's see what we can learn from other more established -- and also very specific -- organizational functions concerning the domain-specific meaning of a centre of excellence.
For example, the central accounting function in any organization is a "center of excellence" for accounting policies, procedures and practices. And then the actual work of accounting is performed in each operating unit according to these specifications. In the same way the actual work of process could be performed in each operating unit according to BPM COE specifications uniquely applicable to that domain. (Note that the central accounting function, under the CFO, doesn't go away . . . likely there will also be good reasons for long-term persistence of the COE. )
2. APPLICABILITY OF BPM COE OUTSIDE OF F1000 -- What is the relevance of BPM COE to SMB, i.e. outside Fortune 1000-scale organizations? The standard recipes for BPM COEs have cadres of specialists. SMB organizations can't afford such O/H. And yet SMBs presumably have the same need for the services provided by BPM COEs.
For an answer, let's explore the COE. A BPM COE is the most visible expression of the radical nature of BPM as methodology and technology.
In a 2013 IBM RedBook, Creating a BPM Center of Excellence, the word "radical" is used nine (9) times in the opening sections!
Why radical? My way of stating this (i.e. this isn't found in the RedBook) is to highlight that BPM is the only technology where the concepts of the work of business are first class citizens of the technology. Every other technology mediates between idea and artefact -- but with BPM, management can see ideas translated into business reality in record time. And for this reason, BPM has the potential to be -- and ultimately should be -- the core technology for any enterprise (supplemented by other irreducible technologie such as busines rules, etc.)
Which brings us to the reason for a BPM COE.
BPM is important and a BPM programme is also demanding. Successful BPM requires cultural change (also a point made in the IBM paper). BPM COE may seem like "just another technology governance initiative", but this would be to miss the radical nature of BPM. BPM requires unprecedented management attention to the black boxes of business processes, which previously functioned more or less autonomously. What was tacit is to become explicit. And the BPM COE is one answer to stepping up on explicit. A BPM COE therefore is about readying and driving the cultural change and governance required to build the process-oriented organization. (A BPM COE is also about curating and maintaining access to the specific technical skills and practices of BPM.)
As such a BPM COE is not inexpensive. Governance requires a focus for a BPM programme, thus a BPM COE. And what about all those SMB organizations that also need BPM? And can't afford a COE? That's why there's a bright future for the BPM boutique consulting organization. Call it "BPM-COE-for-hire".
It all depends on the maturity of an organization and its journey with BPM. The less mature the more important the COE function. The more mature the less COE is relevant. The culture and the organizational set up of a business will also dictate the importance of COE. Plenty of situations where organizations don't have the buy-in, funding and structure to support a COE thus BPM has succeeded at a federated level without a COE. However, I would say COE is an important organizational approach for BPM, ie helping organizations to understand, adopt and accelerate outcomes, but there are many factors that manage true value of the COE approach for BPM..... to answer the question.
Sorry, but I am not a fan of functional unit COEs.
Are we to have a customer service COE, accounting COE, legal COE?
What if the corporation has a legal COE only? Does that mean the other functional units are not COEs?
I have been working for more than 5 years with a hosptial in WI that has a mission to become a COE in the area of Autism. We debated heavily during setup what a COE should be and how to get there.
A research center/historical library plus a worldwide KBase comprising some 10,000 references (updated daily) to all known Autism treatment protocols, all grants awarded, researchers, papers in the works, papers published, all treatment centers (worldwide), all advocacy groups (worldwide), available resources.
The idea is when someone has questions that hospitals/clinics-in-general cannot answer they go to the COE and get quick answers or a pretty good estimate on how long it will take to provide an answer.
COE status, in my opinion, has to be earned.
Outsiders should be the ones to view an organizational entity as a COE, as opposed to a functional unit waking up one morning and saying "let's be a COE".
On the general question, I guess I'd say it depends on whether the CoE is (a) group of talented, experienced individuals who can actually do things, or (b) an administrative and political bottleneck staffed by project managers and “process analysts” who know little about the business and even less about translating technology into business innovation.
I leave as an exercise to the reader to determine which would be preferable.
Does COE need BPM Yes but does BPM need COE... No.... A management feel good TLA that might help a focus on need to be better but no doubt treated with justified cynicism by real workers.....?
In my view, BPM has always (even before the term was invented) been core to operations where the mission is efficiency and effectiveness first, then process improvement, in that order.
Build processes, improve them then roll them out and run thousands of instances.
By all means, in the background, perform “continuous process improvement” but don’t say this is mostly what BPM is all about.
Go back to 1957 and once-through flow graphs and we have the antecedent to BPM (Critical Path Method) - it was deterministic, there was only one objective (i.e. that of cutting the ribbon), and it was core (and remains such) for anything to do with doing the right things, the right way, using the right resources, at the right time, within budget and with deliverables on spec.
I don't think consultants should feel that anything other than better pitches are needed for BPM.
Do we need to mention BPM? Not if next-in-line is a mandatory walk down a garden path to learn prerequisites that include languages, notations, and incantations.
So, mention BPM if it helps, but concentrate your pitch on efficiency and effectiveness improvement (who is not going to be interested in this?).
Help the customer to prepare ROIs that demonstrate the risks and the rewards. And, promote “lock them up” as the way to stop vendors from spewing out “saves time and money” bafflegab.
The real challenge is to narrow the gap between strategy and operations and in the area of operations we have two methods, BPM for orchestration, and ACM for governance (aren't these really all there is?)
Pitches seem easier when you say to customers that success in operations requires a Run Time environment called Case to enable setting a focus (i.e. read establish a cursor position in an rdbms) – and that we have, within Case . . .
a) Objectives with a way to assess progress non-subjectively (FOMM or Figuer of Merit Matrices from Rand Corp works fine).
b) Case-level and across-Case RALB (resource allocation, leveling and balancing).
So, go wih Case, because it accommodates any mix of structured and unstructured work, then add background BPM, ACM, RALB and FOMM and you have a winning formula.