Managing business processes: A guide for enterprise CIOs

Guide to managing business processes

What motivates organizations in managing business processes, and what methodologies do they pursue in their push to innovate?

Infrastructure activities that help organizations achieve specific goals are called business processes, and a refined strategy for managing business processes can make them more effective, efficient and adaptable -- thus propelling organizational success.

But which factors contribute to an IT department’s approach to business process management (BPM), and which best practices and techniques should be used? New software development methods, especially frameworks such as Agile and lean, are often integral to successful BPM efforts, and innovation -- the lifeblood of organizational growth -- is closely linked as well. Learn more about managing business processes in this tutorial.

This guide is part of's CIO Briefings series, which is designed to give IT leaders strategic management and decision-making advice on timely topics.

Table of contents:

The preconditions for managing business processes successfully

Call them the three W's of business process management: Where to begin a business process improvement project is just as important as whom to involve and what technology and methodologies to use to position a BPM program for success.

Some BPM experts opt for greenfield business process territory with no existing policies. Others tackle well-worn areas where business processes touch the most people and need the most help. John Verburgt, director of BPM at CME Group Inc., went after both, beginning with new products and project management in 2010. Learn more in “The who, what and where of winning with business process improvement.”

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Getting optimal results from managing business processes

As time goes by, technology is increasingly intermeshed with all types of organizational activities. But new technology isn’t necessarily a quick fix for outdated and impractical business processes.

Find out how Western Governors University CIO Niel Nickolaisen reconciles the desire for the latest IT tools with the goal of managing business processes in “The best BPM implementations focus on keeping things simple.”

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Using Agile and lean in managing business processes

When Paul Rogers said he wanted to replace the traditional waterfall software development processes in General Electric Co.'s Energy division with the Agile practice of two-week iterations, the division's business leaders told him it couldn't be done.

Just one code build within a complex software release for the Energy division could take as long as 24 hours. Rogers, the newly minted executive manager of GE's Software Solutions Group, wanted new builds for customer-facing Energy software done in 20 minutes.

"With Agile, you choose to do what you can't do, which then makes you have to change," he said during a presentation at Forrester Research Inc.'s recent Application Development & Delivery Forum. "With two-week iterations, all of a sudden the team started to get very creative with what they had to use, or the equipment they needed, to accomplish this." Learn more in “GE's journey from waterfall to Agile practices.”

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How managing business processes aids innovation

Joel Levinson is CIO at Maximus Canada Inc., a business process outsourcing provider of government and public sector services. He spoke with Editorial Director Scot Petersen at the Gartner CIO Leadership Forum in Scottsdale, Ariz., about CIO innovation and leadership.

What does a business process outsourcing vendor do for the public sector?
We take over government operations and run them. For example, we're a big service provider for state Medicaid enrollment, primarily in the health and human services sector. So, we help our government clients run their operations as effectively and efficiently as possible, [and] provide the highest level of service possible. Learn more in “CIO brings innovation to business process outsourcing.”

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Managing business processes: A quiz for CIOs

You've read all the business process automation experts and are well versed in the best strategies for BPA and business process management, or BPM -- but how much do you really know? Earn your stripes and prove you have what it takes. Find out whether you're sharp as a tack or need to brush up on BPA's harsh realities. Do you agree with the automation experts? We have confidence in you! Give our quiz a try.

Take the quiz