Thursday, January 29, 2009

Execution excellence? Tools will help, but you need governance

I am currently involved in a large transformation program for a Dutch governmental agency. They are busy with pretty innovative stuff: case management, business rules, automated decisions, rules engines, document management - e.g. all the ingredients for the modern data processing company.
A number of key goals:
- Agility - the ability to respond to changes in external (and internal) laws, policies rules in a quick and effective way, with low cost and low risk
- Visbility & Compliance - the assurance that policies and rules are followed
- Efficiency

This organization realized that these goals required more than just an innovative application landcape. They realized for instance that employing rules technology only brings real benefit if they build a capability to quickly and correctly analyse, change and deploy rules. This requires a number of clear processes, value adding workproducts, responsibilities, supporting tooling, trained resources.
I was brought in to support them to define these things and to implement them. I would call it: implementing business rules governance.

For me, partly this is a BPM job: making the organization more process focused, to that they can deliver change in a controlled but agile way. But as a BPM consultant, working also frequently in IT process improvement, I started thinking.
My key question is becoming: we have great control/process frameworks around managing aspects between business and IT:
- ITIL for infrastructure
- ASL (mainly used in Holland) for application maintenance and management
- BISL (mainly used in Holland) for information management and business oriented IT "functioneel beheer"

All of these items create control/governance for some (IT)support or change part of the business operations.
But we see slowly a trend that business/IT control and alignment is reached by creating control over the following items:
- Business Processes
- Business Rules
- Information
- Functionality

At this stage we tend to approach this things separately (expect maybe from a EA/business architecture perspective, but these initiatives never want to be involved in "support" or other nitty gritty detail). The result if we would follow all the Gartner and Forrester reports, is that we end up with at least 4 different center of excellences, governance structures and the lot. This is a bit strange, since these 4 areas are typically very related, and impacted with a change. Which would result in a lot of collaboration and possible confusions (since language/concepts in each area differs....)

My dream would be that some type of business oriented ITIL process framework would be created, that helps companies manage these 4 items in an integrated way. And when a change is needed, the companie capability based on this framework (people, processes, roles, departments, products, etc) would enable organizations to quickly respond..

The "integrated business & IT change governance" services library or something.
One stop shopping for your changes in business process, rules, information and requirements/functionality from systems.

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