Business Process Portfolio Management

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Organizations typically undertake periodic process improvement that are focused on specific business processes and may or may not align with the business strategy. In order to realize all the benefits of sometimes disparate BPM efforts, there needs to be an ongoing, organization-wide effort to assess and measure the results and continue to use the successful implementations. A process portfolio is the answer.

Bob Curtice is Vice President of Performance Improvement Associates. He was previously Vice President of Arthur D. Little, Inc. where he spent more than 30 years helping companies in a variety of industries improve their performance by streamlining their business processes and making effective use of modern information technology. He is the author of “Fundamentals of Process Management” and “Role of the Process Owner."

Curtice defines BPM as a large cross-functional business process that yields an important business result. The emphasis is on what is done rather than the location of where it is done such as a department or area of the company. The processes need to be managed end-to-end in order to optimize the different silos in an organization because the processes exist in several silos or business units. There is a good chance that in most organizations no one person exists who manages the process end-to-end or even understands the process in that context.

Businesses initiate BPM projects in order to improve their processes. The impetus for these projects can range from a specific business problem to a management directive or a need to reduce costs and improve efficiency.

Too often, once a project is completed, management attention goes elsewhere and things revert to the way they were. Often the anticipated benefits are not realized or even audited to see if the goals were reached. If there were benefits, they are often not applied throughout the organization. Many pitfalls can happen when process improvement is attempted one process at a time. It is difficult to tell which processes contribute the most to achieving the business objectives or which process is the critical process to improve.

Curtice says it is better and easier to manage a process portfolio because it ensures that some level of attention is paid to all the important processes even when there is no major improvement project going on. A process portfolio also will focus attention on the most critical processes and provide a framework for on-going performance measurement for all the processes.

The first step in creating a process portfolio is to identify the business processes. The second step is to relate each process to strategic business objectives. The third step is to establish diagnostics for each process in order to measure changes. The fourth step is to assess the process portfolio regularly.

Step five is to put a process management governance structure in place. Process owners own the process and control the budget but not the people. Process owners chair a process council and report to a sponsor. Process sponsors are senior managers who control the process improvement efforts. In addition to their senior management duties, they are in charge of that process for the whole organization. The process council should include representatives from the business units and from the different geographies of the organization. There also needs to be ongoing process support in the form of the methods and tools that support the processes.

The main advantage of having a BPM portfolio is that it extends the benefits of process improvement projects beyond the life of each individual process. It insures that the achievements are kept and expanded for the whole organization.

Bob Curtice recently spoke on this topic at BrainStorm’s Business Process Management Conference in New York . For more information on this conference, visit

To hear the archived audio file of this presentation, visit:

Jon Huntress Special Events Correspondent


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