GBS: The Limits of Centralized Governance Teams

Last week’s webinar on HfS’s survey findings on GBS confirmed the continuing ascent of GBS (ignore the title! No-one beats HfS at razzamatazz…).

For me, it re-opens a debate about governance because at the core of the HfS prescription for GBS success is ‘a strong centralized governance team’. Which may be true but I think misses some important nuances.

We agree that appropriate governance is always essential, whatever the organization and its circumstances, and that it must be centrally coordinated. But it also needs to be embedded in business-as-usual in the line wherever possible.

In a world of mega outsourcing deals, where much of the back office is delivered through a handful of global suppliers, then managing everything through a central governance team (a Vendor Management extension) makes perfect sense.

But that world is fast disappearing, as the HfS data confirmed. Hybrid GBS is rapidly becoming the norm. The future is about weaving end-to-end service delivery from across a constantly flexing mix of internal resources and outsourced service providers.

In that scenario, it is business stakeholders, not a centralized governance team, who are best positioned to drive innovation, to forge more effective collaborations with customers and service providers, to identify and manage risk.

GBS - The Limits of Centralized Governance Teams - 30 Oct 2013Enabling business stakeholders to deliver what buy-side organizations say that they really want – agility, innovation and more collaborative relationships – requires that day-to-day governance is embedded in BAU.

Which links directly to organizational process maturity. High-performing GBS organizations will leverage an enterprise process management platform both for its embedded governance and holistic perspectives but also to underpin their own service management frameworks.

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Can Cross-Silo Marriages Work?

The Friday Clinic – a confidential service for those with process problems and nowhere else to turn. We’re here to help!

Dear Doctor Process,

My fiancée says it’s all over. I don’t know how we came to this. I’m just a regular Six Sigma guy and she is the cutest Lean lady. [redacted on legal advice].  Is there any hope?

Name and address withheld

Dear Friend,

Cross-cultural relationships can work.  Many of us know IT guys, for instance, who have managed to marry outside their community and it’s worked. But if you’re serious, you need to shape up.

First up, you’ve got to start listening to your fiancée. Technically, you may be right that procreation is a process. But most women don’t see it as one. Or would agree that it should be statistically controlled. So don’t be defensive when she insists that your Minitab stays downstairs. Minimising variation doesn’t sit too well with quite a lot of aspects of happily married life.

You’re going to have to special attention to your language too. What works in the Six Sigma frat won’t work cross-culturally. Frankly, you’re lucky she didn’t finish it earlier after your ‘joke’ about whether her family was out-of-control and her mother was a cause of special variation.

And practise thinking from her perspective. It won’t hurt you to apply 5S to your tie-rack and wardrobe. You say that it’s her Lean charm that’s swept you off your feet, so respect that. If you really do want five children called Don, Mary, Andy, Iris and Charlie so that your offspring would be DMAIC, then maybe you need to find an MBB to settle down with.

Plead with her for a second chance, and this time learn her language. Then you won’t have more silly arguments about going to The Gambia.  You’ll never again get your hand slapped when she asks you to work on her pex.  And at the right time, you can whisper intimate sweet nothings that will bring you closer. Cuddling up on the sofa, even Lean girls want to hear more than ‘genchi genbutsu’ (you have got to delete that Lean Bluffer app).

Basically, and I know it’s hard, just try to act normal. Do not ever again think about proposing with a value chain.


The Process Doctor

More tragic tales from The Clinic:

18 Feb 2013   Dealing With Process Commitment Phobia

7 Oct 2012   Dealing With ERP Hangover (MyERPia)

Accenture’s Mark George on Lean Six Sigma and BPM

If you need convincing that the convergence of Lean Six Sigma with Business Process Management (BPM) is fast becoming mainstream, check out the interview just published on PEX Network with Mark George of Accenture.

Acknowledging that “For many organizations, Lean and Six Sigma have run their course”, Accenture’s global leader for Operations and Process Transformation continues:

“What companies need to understand is that the components of Lean Six Sigma are necessary but they’re not sufficient.  Recently we have seen a shift towards the concepts of BPM.

If you look at complex organisations that  need to drive an intersection between process and technology, BPM does a great job.  It also does a great job in establishing governance, what we call the process of process management, where you actually treat your processes as though they were capital assets and you proactively manage them toward a predefined future end state as opposed to just a lot of disparate reactive problem solving.

So managing a process like an asset is a very prudent and virtuous thing to do, but a lot of organisations don’t  understand the business case behind BPM or think that it can only be technology driven or it’s exclusively technology dependent.  That isn’t the case.”

He’s right of course – and though it’s not explicit here, this grand coming together will extend beyond Lean Six Sigma and BPM to bring in at least three other wandering tribes as well: IT, Risk Management and Compliance.

That an Accenture managing partner is saying this seems a bit of a milestone on the way to acceptance of enterprise process management as the orchestrating platform that enables effective collaboration on transformation and improvement, thereby underpinning the twin strategic goals of agility and compliance.

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You Say Process Excellence, She Says Operational Excellence, I Say…

You say Process Excellence, she says Operational Excellence, I say Performance Excellence.

Are we all talking about the same thing?

It’s a question that’s been swirling around the back of my mind for a while. I’ve now attempted to answer it in a presentation which I’ve uploaded to Slideshare here.

What triggered me to finally put some effort into addressing it was the passionate response last week (by Paul Harmon of BP Trends) to those who want to change the meaning of the term ‘business architecture’.  In the world of business process management, there’s a struggle between those who argue the benefits of a discipline based on a common language and the revisionists who argue that in a fast-changing world we can’t be hostage to ‘disciplines’ and ‘bodies of knowledge’  which are no longer relevant.  [Personally, I tend towards the revisionists. In order to pass my exam and become an OMG Certified Business Process Management Professional last week, I had to answer questions on books and documents published mostly a decade ago.  At a time of rapid change, there’s a real downside to formalisation.]

Anyway, by contrast and on the same day, a Linkedin discussion How Does Your Organization Define Process Excellence? popped into my inbox. To my surprise, the 20k+ members of the PEX Network Lean and Six Sigma Continuous Improvement group seemed to lack any real consensus (almost two years after the question was first asked).

As you’ll see from the slides, I’ve compiled a selection of 33 definitions of Process, Operational And Performance Excellence. This is just a sample of the available definitions, and excludes (because life’s too short) closely related terms such as ‘Business Excellence’ and ‘Business Process Excellence’.

My own conclusions are that:

  • there is no widely-shared standard definition for each term
  • the myriad definitions for each term hugely overlap
  • process excellence and operational excellence are effectively the same thing
  • arguably performance excellence is more clearly defined, by the Malcolm Baldrige Award criteria, and slightly more extensive.

Anyway, I hope you find it useful – and I’d be very interested to get your feedback (below or direct).

Next up, I’m planning to look next at the various process maturity models, to explore a related question: what are the differences in the evaluation frameworks?  If you’d like to join me in that, I’d be pleased to hear from you.

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26 Sep 2013   Process Excellence: Is The Party Over?

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