Who is the Process Owner?

The process owner is responsible for organising their business processes.

Process owners are a vital part of process mapping, as they are responsible for managing a process. People who either work on the process themselves or have full knowledge of the tasks suit the role best. Upper management by nature does not participate in the majority of daily working processes.

However, all too often organisations assign ownership of the process change initiative to a project manager who has little or no authority over the actual process. Organisations that are successful ensure that the process owner is capable of inspiring and implementing change.

Process ownership can take the form of a single individual responsible for the process, a cross-functional team of department directors or another type of management. When the burden of success for the initiative is placed on the process owner there is a much higher probability that the process will meet its stated expectations.

This may mean that the process owner has to delegate other responsibilities until the process change has been completed. It may also mean other disruptions to the organisation. When considering the huge benefits gained from a top-down approach to managing the processes of the organisation, the small disruption in daily activities is more than compensated.

What qualities does a process owner need?

  • Expertise and knowledge of the process.
  • Someone frustrated by the current performance and will personally gain from improvements.
  • A person who is able to inspire those working on the process.
  • Someone able to communicate effectively with upper management and the workers.
  • An individual who has the aptitude required for critical thinking within the space.

This is definitely a high bar to reach. Especially since larger organisations could have dozens to hundreds of process owners. But, it is critical that you find a suitable process owner, as they bring a lot of responsibility and risk.

Specific responsibilities of the Process Owner:

  • Defining the process mission, vision, objectives, KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), goals, tactics,  and the measures that are aligned with the organisation’s strategies.
  • Monitor and report process performance against KPIs and health versus plans.
  • Synchronises process improvement plans with other process owners within the value chain and other interfacing processes.
  • Ensures appropriate process designs, including the correct business requirements.
  • Defining and promoting business process change and capability investments, which continuously increase the maturity of the process and sustain each level of maturity.

Identifying, assigning and setting up a process owner for success is a difficult challenge. One which has considerable risk, but also large rewards. Fortunately, there are many options for finding the appropriate individual with consultants and training available if you have none who are ready on hand.

Further resources:

How a process owner may help break your internal silos

Source: Business Process Management Common Body of Knowledge (BPM CBOK, 2009), The Association of Business Process Management Professionals