Beware the New Silos. A governance approach to coordinating the disciplines involved in business improvement


Many enterprises are now embracing the BPM discipline. After many years in the doldrums, the BPM market is clearly maturing rapidly. But does “market maturity” necessarily equate to capability maturity?
Recently I was speaking with a business process analyst who briefed me on how his company, a medium sized financial services organization, is using a leading BPMS together with a collaboration based tool. He described how they are doing amazing work in the business process layer, but appear to be oblivious to everything else. They have no information architecture, no services or service architecture, no applications and no interest from business or IT management in anything other than delivering business processes. Everything is managed in the one platform and organized in business process silos. He commented, “this is a major train wreck waiting to happen!”

Perhaps this is an extreme case, but it serves to highlight a very common problem in the BPM space. But don’t imagine that BPM is unique. After many years of strategic commitment to SOA without effective governance, it is clear that SOA is now mainstream for many enterprises, a mandatory architecture pattern and technology for all projects and programs. But interpretations of SOA vary widely and it’s extremely common to see services implemented as next generation enterprise application integration, with minimal business based service architecture. 

Similarly many enterprises struggle to find the right role for Enterprise Architecture. The continuing debate about “what is the purpose of EA?” demonstrates that there is profound lack of understanding or agreement throughout industry. One well known bank set up an EA responsibility, but after a few months it was clear that business pressure for solution delivery programs simply overwhelmed the EA effort which in the end was reduced to a bit part player on the governance board. Is this atypical? I think not. The core issue is that EA as practiced and as articulated in standards is too technology focused and too procedural. And whilst enlightened EA practitioners have promoted the idea of Business Architecture or Business Design as a parallel discipline to EA, in most enterprises the reality is that business architecture and design gets done in business delivery programs.

The issue is that each of these primary disciplines is required, but they need to be coordinated to some degree. Most enterprises have business transformation and modernization tasks in process and these require the involvement of all the disciplines if the outcome is going to be materially improved over the status quo.

There’s no sense that we require an umbrella “framework”. I suspect we have sufficient frameworks already. Rather in this report we explore a governance based approach to coordination in which the responsibilities for policy creation and compliance plus inter discipline dependencies form a minimum necessary structure for ensuring the right questions are asked, and there is clear understanding on a case by case basis of the risk and lost opportunity which may result from isolationist strategies.

Continued in PDF

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Beware the New Silos. A governance approach to coordinating the disciplines involved in business improvement. CBDI Journal

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Published: 15 Dec 2016 12:30


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