All organizations use business processes to get work done. Most business processes in larger organizations rely on computers and software. IT’s role is to make sure the business process, as implemented in technology, changes as the organization changes.
This requires that IT understands the business processes well enough to do our job correctly.
Portions of this article are excerpts from my book, The I.T. Leaders’ Handbook, available in paperback and ebook from fine bookstores everywhere.
Each process should have a process owner. Process owners reside everywhere in the business, preferably close to those executing the process. The process owner maintains the definition of the process, monitors the process to ensure it is healthy, and drives improvements. The process owner works with other process owners to make sure that handoffs and inputs/outputs are aligned.
With increasing dependencies on computers and software for business processes, IT is more critical to business improvement than ever.
This puts the following requirements on IT.
- Know what business process is involved for all change requests. Sometimes it might be more than one.
- Make sure the process owner is involved. Ideally, all changes for a particular process are only coming from the process owner.
- The process owner approves all requirements.
- Use the process owner to make sure the test plan and test team are ready to go before the change is ready for testing.
- Communicate any hidden implications of the change. Since IT gets involved with many processes, we have a better understanding of the bigger picture. A change for one department may cause problems for another department.
With a better understanding of the business process behind each change request, IT will have a more complete understanding of how the company works. This is always a good thing. In fact, it is possible that some of our Business Analysts have a better understanding of how the organization works than anyone else. Individuals may know their area in more detail, but Business Analysts may know how everything flows through the organization.
As the process owners realize the wide knowledge that IT has, they may involve IT earlier in the change discussion. This, of course, benefits the entire company.
Photo by John Bredesen