2.0 The Chief Process Officer – An Emerging Top Leadership Role

As with any other important business process the PoPMa needs an effective leadership. Hence, an appropriate management role is required. Given the increasing importance of process, as the key enabler in the transfer of the business strategy into execution, a real top management role emerges. We call this new top manager the “Chief Process Officer” (CPO) (Franz, Kirchmer, 2012-2) (Kirchmer, 2011) (Jost, 2004). The CPO creates value through strategy execution and we see an increasing number of organizations appointing someone into this role. This is the “Value Scout” of the company. In more and more cases organizations use the “CPO” to name that role, but others name it differently, consistent with others roles. Examples are Senior Vice President (SVP) of BPM, SVP or Process Excellence or SVP of Enterprise Performance.

Managing the PoPMa appropriately creates a company’s capability to deal with the volatile business environment and digitalization successfully. The CPO enables the journey of an organization to the next generation enterprise. He/she develops an integrated view on the organization, across organizational boundaries and helps business people to see the power of IT and IT people to understand the business challenges.

The transparency created under the leadership of the CPO enables other values, like quality and efficiency, agility and compliance, external integration of the company and internal alignment of the employees, as well as innovation and conservation where appropriate (Kirchmer, Franz, 2014). Result is a lasting competitive advantage, enabled through the BPM-Discipline under the leadership of the CPO.

The CPO creates a process-centric organization and culture across the more or less functional organization of an existing company. We often refer to this as the “value-network” led by the “Value Scout”. She/he integrates function-driven and process-driven decision making and management. The CPO enables an end-to-end process view focused on value-creation for clients (Kirchmer, Hofmann, 2013) leveraging the power of digitalization effectively. This overall management approach of the CPO, resulting in company-wide process governance, is shown in figure 3.

Figure 3: CPO – Enabling a Process-centric Management of Functional Organizations

Where do you find such a CPO? In many cases it is an enlightened Chief Information Officer (CIO) who recognizes that, with trends like “the Cloud” or “Software-as-a-Service”, the key asset in the organization are the processes and that BPM is the means to get business value out of such technology trends (Scheer 2013). Some organizations even show that transition openly and move from the CIO role to the “Chief Process and Information Officer” (CPIO). Also a Chief Operating Officer (COO) could become a CPO – if she/he recognizes that BPM is more than just efficiency improvement. The role frequently develops on the back of a large business transformation program with the “Transformation Director” stepping into this role to create sustainable value. Other organizations need to build up the role of a CPO from scratch, coexisting with the CIO and COO. The best solution depends on the specific situation in an organization.


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