In our last post Defining the Roles and Responsibilities of Process Management we discussed the activities that you need to consider ensuring success:
Creating and enforcing a Process Management Framework
Process group design
Process creation, maintenance, and improvement
The question we want to answer is, does this methodology apply only to Process Management or can we extrapolate this to Process Automation.
I found this Customer comment one of the most impactful as I began my journey into Process Automation,
"We automated a poor process and now we do more, wrong, faster!"
How does a team, group, business unit or organization reduce the risk of doing more, wrong, faster? One way to solve (rather than create) problems through automation is by establishing a Center of Excellence’
The Automation Center of Excellence
As you move through your digital transformation the human component of the CoE will be the foundation from which you will develop from. It is essential to align the right people, skills and vision to the appropriate process. This alignment ensures that all aspects of the automation will be beneficial to the individuals and organizations that are implementing it. The Automation Center of Excellence looks at the big picture of automation transformation. The Center of Excellence treats enterprise automation as a continuous state of change requiring intelligent planning, testing and regular evaluation.
During a recent Regional User Group, the discussion of the Automation Lead culminated in some great insights and benefits of the role including, having the ability to work across all regions and departments, being in an unique position to transparently collaborate with department end-users, and with the ability to cross these boundaries helps: Identify common problems, foster synergy through process alignment and prevent duplication. The Governance Framework helps guide the Center of Excellence as it prioritizes workflow automation projects from Ideation through Retrospective. The Center of Excellence Lead and Workflow Lead assess projects based on the fundamentals set out in the Governance Framework.
Creating and enforcing an Automation Workflow Management Framework
Creating an Automation Workflow Management Framework involves defining the rules that determine how the workflow will be used and managed in your organization. As with the example from our Regional User Group understanding the requirements, the dependencies, the risks and the gaps is a primary function of the CoE Lead and Automation Lead. What other roles are essential in creating and sustaining an Automation Center of Excellence?
The CoE Lead
At the heart of the CoE is the CoE Lead who is responsible for developing the CoE strategy and execution plan. One of the early decisions is to decide the best approach for the CoE to take, whether that is a Centralized, Decentralized or Hybrid. The CoE Lead builds the roll out plan such that there is alignment with the Operational Excellence (OPEX) roadmap created by the Executive Sponsor. By identifying specific KPIs (such as processes mapped, process hits, bots deployed, number of times a WF is run) they will be able to ensure the CoE is on track to achieve its overarching ROI goals/ vision.
One output that the CoE Lead creates is the governance framework. The Framework is a living entity that works from Ideation, project review, team set up, delivery and retrospective. Each engagement will be based on the fundamentals set out in the Governance Framework. For consistent and predictable results each use case can be prioritized using the Framework to identify and resource automation projects that meet specific KPIs. Included in the Governance Framework the CoE Lead will formulate the required checks and balances for an idea to be created and deployed and the minimum standards for acceptability.
The CoE Lead will own the communication plan. Overall responsibility for creating the overarching communication plan to tell the organization the purpose of the CoE, how to identify use cases, how to engage, sharing success stories etc. This will then require other people (e.g the Exec Sponsor) to execute.
The Automation Lead
Where requests for technology solutions come in, the Automation lead will determine go/ no go and will prioritize their delivery. They will then triage the development to the technology specialists. The Automation Lead is also responsible for defining the Technology Roles and Responsibilities for each Automation Project.
Automation projects don’t have to be spearheaded by the IT department, but IT should be involved from the start. For a successful automation project, you’ll need a core group with a variety of diverse skills. Within the category of Technology, you can further break it down into specific skillsets. The below are useful examples:
The Business Analyst
The business analyst has a talent for visualizing areas keen for improvement. A quality business analyst will see and document a process as they are in their current state then redesign them to meet future requirements providing enough detail that a developer can easily build the workflow. While an acumen for Process Optimization is helpful the ability to have meaningful discussions with process stakeholders and end users is equally as valuable.
The Technology Specialists
This role revolves around taking well-documented processes from the business analyst and creating automated tasks and workflows. The beauty of using a low code/no code Workflow Automation solution means that the technology specialists do not have to be an actual programmer—they can be anyone with the ability to build effective workflows. Some automation teams have multiple levels of developers.
The Catalyst for true change
Opportunities for automation come from every angle, whether it is a front line manager interested in saving time on manual processes, an individual contributor who may have already been automating tasks on their own, or a senior executive with aspirations of making the enterprise more productive, your automation project probably started with people enthusiastic about the benefits of automation. After the initial surge designing and deploying a few automation solutions, many businesses struggle with next steps. What often happens is that the automation solution with the power to transform whole enterprises is left to manage some rudimentary workflow processes. Teams wonder how they could save time processing paperwork but have no idea that they could be using the solution that another department has already implemented.
To move the digital transformation forward we need to enlist at least one more important ally.
The Executive Sponsor
Getting executive sponsorship and visibility is key. An executive sponsor could be any of the C-Suite but the preferable one is the CEO. In most cases employees recognize the CEO before they do any other C-Level individual because they are the face and voice of the Organization. They will be someone committed to maximizing ROI for your organization, and they will see how the long-term savings from automation fit into the big picture of the organization’s finances. Ideally this person could end up sitting on the steering committee.
Using Low Code/ No Code technology it is becoming easier and easier to automate processes, however it is important to remember that just because a process can be automated, doesn’t mean that it should be automated. By establishing and correctly structuring a CoE to take responsibility of delivering automation to your business you will not only ensure that your automation initiatives are delivered efficiently and to an appropriate standard, but also that the initiatives that are delivered have a meaningful impact.
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In our post What is a Center of Excellence (CoE) we explained that there are three approaches that your CoE can take, Centralized, Decentralized, or Hybrid; then, in our post What is Business Maturity and how does it influence your CoE?, we touched on how your approach will influence the way that Roles and Responsibilities are allocated between your CoE and your Line of Business (LoB).
In this month’s post, I’d like to focus in a bit more detail on how Roles and Responsibilities of Process Management can be shared between the CoE and LoB, as well as how you can implement and enforce them using Promapp.
When it comes to process management, there are a few activities that you’ll need to consider – while the following is not an exhaustive list, these are the ones that I’ll dive into during this post:
Creating and enforcing a Process Management Framework
Process group design
Process creation, maintenance, and improvement
Creating and Enforcing a Process Management Framework
Creating a Process Management Framework involves defining the rules that determine how processes will be used and managed in your organization and, importantly, what good looks like. Specifically, the sort of questions that will be needed to be answered are things like:
Where and how are we going to map and access processes (e.g. Promapp, Word documents, PowerPoint etc)?
When documenting a process, what are the process writing standards that need to be met?
What do our governance roles and responsibilities consist of (who needs to be responsible and accountable for what)?
What governance is needed for a new process to be created, or for an existing process to be changed?
When it comes to the Process Management Framework, the answer is straightforward – it must be the responsibility of the CoE. If every part of the business can come up with their own Framework, then you are setting yourself up for a fragmented approach to process management across the business where process information is recorded in multiple formats, lives everywhere, and is never updated. In turn, this will perpetuate the business operating in departmental silos, minimize the use of process documentation by the LoB and, ultimately, reduce the impact of any Operational Excellence (OPEX) program.
While these rules need to be defined outside of Promapp, the enforcement of these elements can be facilitated through Promapp. For this, you should turn to the Process Approval Workflow.
While this workflow is configurable, by default, every process must be published by a Promaster. Given that your Promasters are typically going to be members of your CoE, this will ensure that your CoE retains oversight and can prevent processes that don’t adhere to the rules established in your Framework from being released to the business.
Process Group Design
The next consideration that needs to be made is who should design your top-level Process Groups (L0) as well as your Sub-Groups (L1).
Again, the answer at L0 is straightforward – while input may be gathered from the LoB, it should be the responsibility of the CoE as the decisions that are made here will impact how processes are used across the entire business. L1 becomes more open to discussion where, under a centralized approach, L1 would also be the responsibility of the CoE while under a decentralized approach, it would be the responsibility of the LoB (and a hybrid would be agreed upon on a case-by-case basis).
Once these ownership decisions have been made, the next question is that of enforcement because, the last thing that you want, is for your group structure to be modified by a rouge LoB employee. In Promapp this is achieved using Privileges and Stakeholders.
In Promapp there are three privileges, ‘Promaster’, ‘Business Analyst’, and ‘User’. In order to create and edit process groups, you will need to have either the ‘Promaster’ or ‘Business Analyst’ privilege; therefore, ensuring that all members of the LoB are assigned the ‘User’ privilege will remove their ability to accidentally (or otherwise) make changes that are outside of their remit. If you choose to assign responsibility to the LoB to structure their own L1 Groups, you can make the necessary people ‘Process Group Champions’ which will enable them to create sub-groups in their specific group without being able to modify your L0 structure or the L1 structure of any other groups. For more information on Promapp privileges, see our help guide here.
Every process needs to have a Process Owner and Process Expert. When creating a Process Management Framework, the CoE should define exactly what the responsibilities and KPIs of these should be, however here is a starting point:
Regardless of which approach your CoE takes, these governance responsibilities should be assigned to members of the LoB. While the CoE might assist with process creation, maintenance and/ or improvement, at the end of the day the LoB are accountable for their own performance which is, in part, a function of the performance of their processes. Your Head of Sales, for example, will have a tough time blaming the CoE for missing their number due being handed down an inadequate sales process!
In Promapp, whenever a process is created an Owner and Expert will have to be assigned which will then appear in the Summary Section of the process:
As described earlier, both the Process Owner and Process Expert will form part of the Process Approval Workflow and therefore will have to sign off all changes, even if the change is made by a member of the CoE.
Process Creation, Maintenance, and Improvement
The responsibilities for process creation, maintenance, and improvement will be driven by your CoE approach – a fully centralized approach will see all three being owned by the CoE, a decentralized by the LoB, and a hybrid will see them shared. In making these decisions, the factors that should be considered are:
From a strategy perspective, the question that you will have to answer is ‘Is it worth pushing this responsibility to my LoB?’. On the one hand, asking the LoB to map, manage, and improve their own processes takes time out of their day that could be spent actually performing these processes. On the other hand, where processes are created by the CoE you run the risk of Process Owners and Experts believing that process is the responsibility of the ‘process guys’ (i.e. your CoE), and therefore failing to contribute to process design and improvement. Similarly, process participants may feel like processes are being documented for the sake of having process documents and therefore fail to appreciate the importance of following the documented processes or flagging where a process needs to be improved. Ultimately then, to get the maximum impact from any OPEX initiative, at some point process creation, maintenance, and improvement responsibilities should be shifted to the LoB. With that being said, if your LoB lack either the capability (skills) or capacity (time) needed to execute, there is no point in assigning them such responsibility as doing so would result in them putting it in the too-hard basket and nothing getting done. Therefore, even if you would like your LoB to perform these activities themselves, if they are not ready you are better off retaining these within the CoE while you build capability and add capacity in the LoB over time. This is summarized in the image below which shows how over time you can shift the roles and responsibilities of process creation away from your CoE to your LoB by increasing your business maturity.
From an enforcement perspective, in Promapp all you need to consider is how you manage Privileges as described earlier. So long as the members of your CoE have been assigned as ‘Promasters’ or ‘Business Analysts’ they will have the ability to edit any process in your site. Equally, assigning the relevant members from your LoB as Process Owners, Process Experts, Group Champions, or Group Editors, will ensure that they have the ability to edit any process within their domain.
To summarize then, when considering the roles and responsibilities of process management, there are certain activities (such as the development of a Process Management Framework, and the design of your L0 Group Structure) that must always be performed by your CoE; equally other activities (such as Process Ownership) must always be the responsibility of your LoB. Other activities however are open for discussion and will be determined by the approach that your CoE takes (Centralized, Decentralized, Hybrid) and will likely change over time, becoming increasingly decentralized as your business matures.
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Over the last several weeks we have defined what operational excellence is, highlighted the approaches for a Center of Excellence (CoE) and how to structure it. Within the CoE we discussed what business maturity is and how it can impact your CoE and wound up the material with governance, funding and how to measure success of your CoE. So, is a Center of Excellence right for you?
While a CoE can certainly add value, it’s not always going to be the most appropriate delivery approach. Before investing in, and setting up a CoE, a few questions need to be answered:
Is a CoE a fit for all Organizations?
Not necessarily. Establishing a full CoE will not be a fit for everyone, however certain elements of the CoE material might that we’ve discussed may still be relevant. For example, if an IT department is being overwhelmed with requests from the LoB to build solutions, they might just need to define an engagement process to formalize how requests are made, assessed, built etc. rather than building a CoE.
Does my organization’s profile lead itself to benefitting from a CoE?
The organizations who benefit from a CoE are generally going to be larger enterprises who are looking to leverage all parts of OPEX (people, process, technology, and leadership) across multiple lines of business and are ready and willing to make structural change.
If your organization is seeking to do the following, it’s a good sign that you are likely to benefit from a CoE:
· Establish better communication across the enterprise.
· Adopt a standardized approach to processes documentation and content creation to facilitate ongoing maintenance, governance, and or usage.
· Facilitate and maintain data truth to ensure that users trust the data.
· Coordinate and control their automation development efforts across the organization.
· Reduce their reliance on IT or certain individuals for important tasks.
Do I have enough scale to justify a CoE?
What a CoE is really all about is scaling efficiently – being able to deliver lots of use cases quickly with the minimum amount of effort, by reusing assets or leveraging highly skilled and experienced professionals. For this to work however, you need to have enough use cases to justify establishing a full-time team. If you only need a handful of use cases developed, it makes more sense outsourcing the development if you are unable to do it within your team.
Is your organization ready prepared for structural change?
Given that a CoE will change the way in which you operate (not to mention require funds and executive level support), you need to ensure that your organization is ready and accepting of such structural change.
Is a lack of standardization a problem?
Right now, if, in finance you are documenting and automating your processes completely differently to how the rest of the organization does, you are going to make it hard for other departments to work with you, not to mention you’re going to make your IT department’s life much harder than it needs to be as they are forced to manage all sorts of different technology. A CoE could solve this by creating and enforcing organization wide frameworks to establish how processes are managed and automated.
Do you lack resources?
If you are finding that you are unable to execute use cases because you lack the resources to build them, or you have use cases being built by people from within the LoB already but they are lacking the quality to be used in a production environment, then a CoE could be used to provide the necessary capability and capacity that you need to execute.
To summarize then, while a CoE can be an excellent execution model, it is not the only execution model. Depending on your circumstances you may well be better off training up an army of citizen developers or simply outsourcing to an external consultant. If, however the questions above resonated with you, it could well be time to take the plunge and establish your own CoE!
With that we are finished with our primer on the Center of Excellence which we hope you found to be a useful introduction. Stay tuned to our group as, over the coming months, we are going to do some deep dives on all things CoE.
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If you’ve got this far in our Blog series, it’s safe to assume that you see the value that a Center of Excellence (CoE) could bring to your organization. Establishing and running a CoE however is not free, so in this post I’m going to explore the different approaches that you can take to funding your CoE.
To begin, let’s consider the costs that are involved in establishing and running a CoE. Your fixed costs are the expenses that your CoE will incur even if it doesn’t deliver any use cases, such as the salaries and on-costs of staff, the materials that are used (from stationery to office space), as well as any shared infrastructure. There also may be some licensing costs that you consider a fixed cost – Promapp for example is often considered a fixed cost as it is typically procured and then opened to the business for general use. Your variable costs in contrast are the costs that you incur to deliver specific use cases and will often involve licensing (for example delivering a use case might require one Nintex Workflow licenses and 12 Nintex Sign licenses) as well as consultant’s fees if they are used.
In order to cover these costs, we see three funding models that you can select from:
Under a centralized model, the CoE will receive a budget (generally from the office of the CIO or COO) to cover all fixed and variable costs. Along with the budget, the CoE will also be given an ROI target that it is expected to deliver.
Under a recharge model the CoE won’t be given any budget, rather will charge the Line of Business (LoB) for the delivery of use cases with the expectation that it is able to be self-sustaining by covering its own costs.
Under a hybrid model, the CoE will be given some budget and then will have to recharge the LoB to make up the difference.
As you might imagine, all three models come with their own pros and cons.
It’s important to remember that use cases typically have spill-over effects such that, while a given use case will often directly improve one team’s process, it will also indirectly improve other team's processes. A Recharge model can create issues in such circumstances as, when asked to pay for the creation of the use case, the primary team may not see enough value to justify the spend resulting in it not getting built.
If instead a Centralized model is used, the CoE can assess the ROI from the perspective of the entire business, not an individual team, which might present a much more compelling business case. A Centralized model does of course have its own challenges, primarily around scale – if the CoE is in hot demand and needs to double in size in order to manage the workload, it could be difficult for the Executive Sponsor to secure that level of funding in a short period of time, even if doing so would deliver huge ROI. This then is where a Recharge Model is valuable as, if each department pays for its own use cases, by tapping into multiple team's budgets then finding the money to add resources to the CoE can be easier and quicker.
A Hybrid approach then seeks to find the best of both worlds. By having some budget at its disposal, the CoE will have the ability to identify and build strategic use cases at its own discretion while being able to scale quickly and efficiently by recharging the LoB for other use cases. This approach is often seen as an ‘Operational Excellence (OPEX) Tax’ as all teams will need to contribute even if they don’t choose to be directly involved; therefore, for this approach to work, your Executive Sponsor will need to ensure that they are selling the benefits of OPEX and the CoE so that all budget holders understand the value of existing in the ecosystem.
Clearly then there is no one best choice – each business will need to weigh up the pros and cons and decide which model is most appropriate based on their situation. This discussion might have also highlighted the fact that, given the costs involved in setting up and running a CoE, even if a CoE could bring value to your organization it may not be the most appropriate use of your resources. As such our next blog post will seek to help you answer the question Is a CoE right for me? .
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In our last episode we discussed the importance of Governance and presented a Framework to help guide you through the process. Our ideas have been designed, developed and deployed but how do we know if we have been successful? This week we discuss ways to measure the success of your CoE.
Defining Measures of Success - you need to determine what success looks like for your Center of Excellence. Once your OPEX machine starts ticking along you’re going to identify far more use cases than your Center of Excellence can deliver, so having a clear idea of what success looks like will enable you to decide which request are worth building, as well as prioritize your backlog. You can also use these metrics as a baseline for improvement and report progress against them.
Referring back to the Governance Framework, once an idea has been generated, it needs to be assessed by the Project Review Board to determine if it should be built or not. As part of this assessment, the use case should be assessed from the perspective of ensuring that, by allocating resources to its development, the CoE is able to deliver value to the business. In order to answer this question, it is crucial that the success factors for the CoE itself have been established. Below is an example of a framework that might be used to establish these success factors in a way that makes it easy to (a) assess the suitability of any given use case and (b) measure the performance of the CoE.
These Objectives are typically driven through your Executive Sponsor (working in coordination and collaboration with other executives) to define with success looks like. This will generally involve determining which existing business objectives the CoE will be tasked with contributing towards.
Once the Executive Sponsor defines which business objectives the CoE will be focused on, the CoE Lead will define how the CoE will contribute towards achieving these business objectives. When assessing use cases, the CoE Lead must ensure that they contribute to achieving these specific business objectives.
Next, the CoE lead must set out clear measures of success for the CoE to work towards. These should be done at a granular level, for examples setting tasks, detailing specific dates, clear and explicit outputs or savings, etc.
The Process and Technology leads must then identify how they are going execute. In creating this strategy, they should consider how they are going to use the three levers of Operational Excellence (OPEX), namely:
The Speed at which the organization produces outputs
The Cost of producing outputs and/ or
The Quality of the outputs the organization produces
Identify leading metrics to provide insight into whether you stay the course or require pivoting your strategic direction. A great question to begin with is what is the business impact of this project? Where the business value is your first objective is to answer the question of how you quantify and measure the impact to the business. After you understand how you measure the business impact, you can calculate or estimate the expected impact. What is the opportunity to change or improve the business?
Let's take a look at an example of how this framework might be used:
We have come a long way in creating the foundation for a successful Center of Excellence. We have the underpinnings of Operational Excellence, a variety of CoE approaches to use, assessed the maturity of our operation, structured it while applying a governance model and collaborated with our Executive Sponsors of Success Criteria. The only thing we need now is the proper funding. In our next episode we will discuss the appropriate funding models necessary to create the CoE but ensure it’s viability and success well into the future.
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