The Process Elements Series: Process owners vs Process Managers

Who is responsible?

This weeks’ instalment of the Process elements series will tackle the ownership of a process. In this series we’re discussing all those elements that make up a well written process. If you’ve missed it find a small recap of the different elements below.

Who owns the process?

There are 3 roles around each and every process. These are very well defined in ITIL and are the:

  • Process Owner
  • Process Manager
  • Process Practitioners

Small side note for those of you not familiar with ITIL –

[dt_quote type=”pullquote” layout=”left” font_size=”big” animation=”none” size=”1″]ITIL, formerly an acronym for Information Technology Infrastructure Library is a set of detailed practices for IT service management (ITSM) that focuses on aligning IT services with the needs of business. –[/dt_quote]

Let’s start by defining  what each role is responsible for.

The Process Owner

This individual is “Accountable” for the process.  They are the go to person and represent this process across the entire organization.  They will ensure that the process is clearly defined, designed and documented.  They will ensure that the process has a set of Policies for governance. Process Owner ensures that all Process activities, (what to do),  Procedures (details on how to perform the activity) and the policies (rules and governance) are defined.

The process manager

Is the person in charge of managing and enforcing the process with the process practitioners on a day to day basis. This role has oversight over the practitioners to ensure that the work is performed and is responsible to escalate any improvements or issues with the process to the process owner.

The process practitioners

Those people that execute the process.

Why are these roles important? Why are they needed?

These roles define who exactly is responsible and accountable for the process itself, as well as, the execution of its contents. This ensure that the process is kept up to date and that it is enforced. These roles also make sure that if the process is not working, not practical, or in any way no longer suits the business, there are the appropriate channels and people responsible to escalate to and ensure it is rectified.

When designing a process the process owner needs to be sure to involve the process manager and the process practitioners (as well as other stakeholders – but more about that next week). These will be the people who will bring the process to life. The process manager and the process practitioner are those that will ensure that the process is not just another document on some company intranet but it is something practical, useful and followed on a day to day basis.

The process owner and the process manager may at times be the same person. However when these roles are combined it is easy to have a conflict of interest. The process owner needs to keep the needs of the business at the forefront, whilst the process manager is more interested in how to make the day to day management easier and how to enforce it. As such when these roles are combined, the person needs to be disciplined in taking the different perspectives in consideration.  In addition the process owner needs to be aware of how a process sits within and affects the rest of the business so as to design a process that is cohesive with the rest of the existing processes and procedures as such it is more often than not that the process owner and the process manager are different people within the business.

When putting in place this framework, businesses often get stuck on how this can be implemented successfully. There are 2 methods that I know of. These being distributed and consolidated which I will be going over during the last post of the process elements series. If you want to know more – stay tuned…

Up next week is a post on the process impact and its stakeholders.