Business Process Pros 'at the Intersection of Business and IT'

Ann All

Last week I wrote about the value companies including Xerox, General Mills and W.W. Grainger are gaining from "hybrid" employees that possess both IT and business skills. I cited a blog post by consultant Julie Hunt in which she pointed out these multi-skilled employees help facilitate collaboration across various business functions.


There is perhaps no area where this makes more sense than business process management, which has long required a blend of business and IT skills from its practitioners. As Forrester Research analyst Connie Moore writes on her blog, "people in this career field live at the intersection of business and IT."


So perhaps it's not surprising companies are putting more thought into recruiting folks with appropriate skills and/or creating them by training promising internal candidates. A lack of such skills keeps BPM projects from scaling throughout a company, thus limiting BPM's positive business impact.


Forrester groups business process professionals into five categories. Though some are more business than IT, and others more IT than business, they all possess a blend of IT and business skills. Moore describes them in her post:

  • Change agents, who "champion BPM initiatives, working with business process owners and stakeholders to fund BPM projects."
  • Gurus, who "ha[ve] deep expertise in business architecture and can guide multiple BPM projects."
  • Prodigies, who "have rare talent in business process modeling techniques and the implementation of BPM suites."
  • Wannabes, who "are almost always former business analysts who seek to move up a notch by working on business process improvement projects."
  • Operators, who "have inherited a BPM project and are trying to deliver it successfully." Unlike the other four roles, these folks generally are working on one-off BPM projects confined to a single business unit rather than broader process-transformation efforts.


Moore also offers five suggestions for companies hoping to pump up their internal process-improvement knowledge. Two I especially like:

  • Pairing experienced process analysts and architects with promising rookies. Though this will take a while, it's an inexpensive and relatively simple approach, writes Moore. Earlier this year I wrote about a similar approach to building business intelligence skills used by a Columbus, Ohio-based company called Information Control Corp., which places entry-level employees on project teams composed of a senior architect/developer, senior quality assurance analyst and three junior developers. The team structure is portable across various disciplines so ICC can form them around data integration, ETL (extract, transform, load), the analytics layer or other desired skill sets.
  • Create a BPM center of excellence (CoE) and use it as a skills accelerator. Again, using the idea of pairing process veterans with newbies, many CoEs pair experienced CoE staff with workers from the business unit that is starting a BPM initiative. "Instead of doing all the work within the CoE, the CoE serves as an internal resource to help grow and accelerate the development of process skills throughout the organization," says Moore.

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