How to manage process changes efficiently in an enterprise? It's the Billion $ question in every BPM leader's mind. Effective process governance is the clear answer to this question but the lack of standard approaches and tools makes it a challenge. This Article outlines an efficient approach to answer this open question. Process Change Approval Approach is a step by step approach to review and approve process changes in an organized fashion with the help of 3 different checklists (Model Convention Quality Checklist, Process Design Review Checklist, and Process Approval Checklist). This simple 4 phased approach will provide significant assistance to BPM practitioners to tackle this real and present business problem.
Process-based approach to transformations is now used routinely by enterprises all over the world, and process change management is regarded as one of the biggest challenges in BPM. Though there are multiple business process governance frameworks and methodologies available, there is an ongoing need for a simple approach to handle this challenge. Process change is a continuous event in every organization but often they are not tracked and reviewed consistently. This inefficient behavior leads to poor process design and quality issues, which will eventually result in financial losses during and after process implementation. In other words, organizations spend millions of dollar in process change initiatives but they do not allocate enough time and effort to setup a good process governance structure in the first place. If process governance setup is in place, it will streamline and fast track the process changes, with the help of tools, templates and checklists.
Business processes needs to be managed holistically with a good change governance setup. This Article outlines an efficient and proven approach based on checklists to enable this vision. Business process quality and design checklists are needed for different levels of process reviews and approvals (usually during the initial phases of the business process lifecycle). The real value to the reader lies in the content of the checklists used to support this approach.
Process Change in Action:
What do we mean by a Process change? In simple terms process change can occur when a new process is introduced or an update is made to an existing process. The newly introduced process change needs to be reviewed before it get promoted from the To-Be state to the As-Is process state. These reviews need to be planned in a structured way to identify and fix process issues before they are implemented.
Process Change Approval Approach
This approach is the key enabler of the process change defined in the above section. BPM initiatives are usually designed to follow a top-down approach i.e. process changes and approval mechanisms are planned from the top tier of the organization but ironically the actual change follows a bottom-up approach.
In the first phase of this approach, the process models are first mapped in a workshops or interviews. The mapped processes are modeled by the Process analyst and the processes are submitted for subsequent reviews: a) Model quality check, b) Process design review and, finally, c) Process approval, before being communicated to the respective stakeholders (who will implement or execute them). The details of the approach are shown below in the Figure1.
The steps and checklists used in these 4 phases are detailed in the rest of the Article and a process example is used to illustrate this story better.
Service Request Management Process Story:
A sample Service Request process will be used to walkthrough the approach. Let's consider that an organization is planning to introduce a new IT service request management process. This new process will provide users, a formal entry channel for placing IT service request e.g. Password change, laptop replacement etc. There are 3 main activities a) Raise Request, b) Resolve Request and c) Close Request.
Phases of Process Change Approval Approach
Phase 1 – Process Mapping and Modeling: Process Analyst (PA) or an equivalent role is responsible for documenting the process model (with Responsible (R), Accountable (A), Consulted (C) & Informed (I) matrix) as per the agreed modeling convention. Once the process models are mapped and modeled, it is submitted for a quality review. In our Request management process example, Process Analyst models 1 high level process flow and 3 sub processes flows .Once the process models are ready all four of the models are submitted for the quality review.
Phase 2 – Model Convention Quality Check: This first check is used to perform quality assurance check on the submitted process models against the accepted modeling convention. To be more specific a) Syntax, b) Semantics and c) Notation, 3 main building blocks of a process model are verified against accepted norms. A designated Process Quality Assurance analyst or an equivalent role is accountable to perform these checks. Pre-approved Model Convention Quality Checklist is used to perform these checks.
If process model quality issues are identified in this phase, the process models need to be remodeled until no such issues exist. At the end of this phase, all process models should be cleared of quality issues and are then forwarded to the next level for design review.
In Request management process example, the Process Quality analyst uses this Model Convention Quality Check list to perform the Quality check on all four of the process models and once the quality aspects are validated, the process models are forwarded to the Process Design Approver for the design review.
Phase 3 – Process Design Review Check
This check is used to review process design aspects of the process models that are submitted for review (after the initial quality check). Ten different process design aspects like tactical fit, fit for purpose, usability, efficiency etc. are verified against accepted norms. A designated Process Design Approver or an equivalent role is accountable to perform these checks. Pre-approved Process Design Review checklist is used to perform these checks.
If design issues are identified, the process model needs to be redesigned and remodeled until no such issues exist. At the end of this phase, all process models should be cleared of process design issues and are then forwarded to the next level for process approval. Process Design Approver can reject the design change, if required.
In Request management process example, the Process Design Approver uses the check list and performs the design check on the 4 process models and once the design aspects are validated, the process models are then forwarded to Process Change Approval Board or Steering committee for approval.
Phase 4 – Process Approval Check
This is the final check in this approach, to approve or reject the process change (after the initial quality check and process design review). Five different design aspects like strategic fit, high level process consistency, and cross functional integration etc. are verified against accepted norms. A designated Process Change Approval Board or Steering committee is accountable to perform these checks. Pre-approved checklist is used to perform these checks.
If approval issues are identified at this stage then the process models need to be redesigned until no such issues exist. At the end of this phase all process models should be cleared of process design issues and approved or in some cases the process work can also be rejected or benched.
In Request management process, the Process Change Approval Board or Steering committee uses this check list to take the final approval decision on the process. Once the approval aspects are validated, the process is approved .The approved process models are checked-in to the process repository, published and communicated to the respective stakeholders.
The phased approach detailed in this Article can assist organizations to handle process changes efficiently, and the checklists used in various stages are the core enablers of this approach. The content of the checklists cover a wide range of process quality and design aspects from different viewpoints. The three checklists outline in this article can be reused or integrated into existing enterprise process change approval workflows. If customized properly, they can accommodate all aspects of process change and approval requests in an organization.