The Life Cycle of BPM Centers of Excellence - Part 1

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The number of companies that have a BPM Center of Excellence  (COE) has not grown over the last eight years (It’s stable at about 34% according to a BPTrends survey.). In trying to guesstimate why that might be happening, I have been asking these questions:

1. When do companies start a COE and why?

2. What do COE employees do?

3. How do COE’s change and what causes these changes?

This article focuses on the last question, but responds to the first two in the specific examples. 

The use case I will describe is from a client that has had a COE for six years.  When it started the COE was a group of 4 subject matter experts who knew different parts of the company and knew the methodology of business process management.  The company had already employed two different consulting companies that had modeled all their processes in two different modeling tools, but not many improvements had been made.  Even so, the company still felt that process improvement was important.  Indeed, it was one of the critical initiatives listed in the annual report, supported by the executives, and displayed on the internal and external websites.  So the BPM COE group and the process improvement concept was supported by top executives.

One of the things that the early COE did was to identify the 10 core processes and model them using Aris. They also designated Executive Sponsors, and Process Owners for each core process.  And they began working with executives and employees to analyze and improve processes in two of these areas.  They had some success with one business leader and her team because of her motivation, her advocacy, and the fact that she ensured that teams had time to work on studying and improving processes. Other areas did not have the same level of success, and many employees felt that their daily work was more important than improving their work. 

Key elements supported by the first COE

  • Built a framework for a process oriented culture
  • Related processes to the company’s strategy
  • Identified and modeled the organization’s 10 core processes
  • Selected Executive Sponsors and Process Owners for the 10 core processes
  • Selected a modeling tool for the company
  • Facilitated BPM projects

Then there was a change.  The company was going through some downsizing and some of employees in the COE moved to other jobs within the company or left the company.  But 2 of the 5 employees stayed in process improvement jobs and moved to specific operational business units.  So these BPM practitioners worked specifically within their divisions over the next two years.   We could call this second  stage in the BPM lifecycle  “Decentralizing.”   Part 2 will discuss the second and third stages of this BPM COE lifecycle.


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