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Why Business Process Owners are Critical to the Success of ERP Projects

One of the most important aspects of leading an ERP or Business System Evaluation and Implementation Project is selecting and assigning roles and responsibilities around business processes.

The Business Process Owners (BPOs) are an integral part of the Evaluation Team and are responsible for documenting business processes from end-to-end. As the diagram below shows, they will be involved in the Vendor and Solution Evaluation, Solution Design, Build and Implementation and Post Implementation Stages, involving ongoing maintenance and improvements.

4 Key Areas of Contribution

Following are the 4 key areas where BPOs contribute to the success of an ERP project.

1.    Review Business Processes

BPOs are most effective when they understand how their process interacts with upstream and downstream processes. They will work with the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) who have an in-depth understanding of the processes within their own departments. The SMEs usually understand the inefficiencies and pain points in their specific functional areas.

When a process spans multiple departments, this often means that individual departments only understand a part of the process. Without knowledge of how a process fits into the bigger picture, it can be difficult to identify opportunities for improvement and/or competitive advantages. BPOs will review process improvements across multiple departments to cover their areas of functional responsibility.

While some processes may only need incremental improvements, others may need a complete overhaul to meet “best practice” expectations from management. It involves thinking about the purpose of each process and the hand-offs between functions.

We recommend involving stakeholders from all departments. This collaborative approach results in business improvements that are aligned with the business goals and KPIs.

2.    Understand End to End Process Flows

BPOs need to understand how their processes fit into the overall scheme of the business. This is especially important when it comes to process improvement because it gives the process owner insight into what outputs are commonly used downstream.  Reengineering a process around a rarely used output is not a good use of time.

Business Process Owners should always be asking themselves:

  • What processes feed into my process?
  • What downstream processes rely on my process?
  • What is strategically important about my process?
  • Are there performance KPIs around my processes?
  • What part of the business does my process contribute to?
No individual process operates in a silo. In fact, process changes often disrupt solutions and processes downstream. When process owners understand this, they can help the company develop a Change Management Plan that ensures a smooth transition for affected staff and employees.

3.    Document the Business Requirements

BPOs will work with other stakeholders in the business to document the key requirements and process improvements using Business Scenarios. Business Scenarios provide visibility of required information flows and help to prioritise what is important to the business. They also clearly articulate what the Vendors need to respond to in the Request for Proposal and to underpin Vendor demonstrations.

Effective documentation will ensure that everyone on the project and vendor teams understands what the business is expecting the new ERP to deliver.

4.    Mentor and Train End Users

BPOs also empower other employees by mentoring and training them on the new ERP solution. They should be open to seeking feedback from the end-users on any changes that might result in significant business benefits. In fact, no amount of management expertise can replace the knowledge that day-to-day experience creates.

Identifying effective Business Process Owners who have the right personalities and skill sets and who are open to suggestions and change and providing them with the tools and expertise to improve your processes will be a competitive advantage for your organisation.

When we began evaluating a new ERP solution for our business, CMC helped us to understand the importance of identifying our key Business Process Owners who could work together to document the business rules and scenarios. These staff then went on to become the ERP champions for the project

Chris Kalmar - Chief Financial OfficerRoland Corporation