Interesting video update from Gartner’s David McCoy on the key challenges for Business Process Management. He indicates that he thinks the greatest challenge to business process improvement is the organizational change aspect and states that political resistance within organizations can make or break a BPM effort.
Anyway this got me thinking. If you were designing an organization from scratch today how would you do it? Would you use the standard vertical department structure of Finance, Sales, HR, Marketing, R&D that we see in the vast majority of organizations today or would you build the organization horizontally along individual product or service lines?
In organizations many processes are horizontal rather than vertical. Processes, for example warranty repair, cut across multiple departments rather than residing within a single department. Process improvement activities thus require buy in from multiple parts of the organisation creating opportunities for conflict and variability in levels of engagement with the project. The vertical organization structure thus inhibits adoption of BPM outside departmental silos.
In an organisation constructed along product or service lines many of the issues of conflict and commitment are reduced. Single decision making authority for the product or service reduces the opportunity for conflict during process improvement. Ownership of the process improvement activity with a single product or service line eliminates the issue of variability in commitment between departments. Finally project risk is reduced as an organisational firebreak exists between the project and the remainder of the organization’s product or service lines.