When Paul Harmon asked me to write a column for Business Process Trends about my experiences as Senior Director of IT Business Process Management at Hewlett Packard, I felt that it would be a wonderful opportunity to share my thoughts on some of the problems and the opportunities involved in setting up a BP change organization. At least I can provide some insights on some of the twists in the road and how to recognize milestones along the way.

I recently attended DCI’s “Business Process Management” conference in Orlando. The enthusiasm among attendees for Business Process Change was everywhere. But, right after that came the big question mark – “How Do We Actually Do This?” — How do we actually connect the dots between the promise of process and the performance of work?

I’m currently the manager of a team of people at HP who are responsible for a wide range of BP process improvement projects. When we got started, just after the HP-Compaq merger, we faced the question of how to actually make business process change happen at HP. Luckily, some of us had considerable experience in using the Supply Chain Council’s SCOR methodology. SCOR depends on a pre-existing supply chain process framework and a top-down approach to analyzing and improving supply chain processes. One doesn’t approach each process from scratch, assuming its new and unique. Instead, you start by assuming that your process can be modeled, at least in broad terms, by means of the SCOR framework. In other words, you begin by redefining your actual process in terms of the more generic terms of the SCOR model. The framework gives you a way to quickly define the overall scope of the process. At the same time, SCOR metrics provide a quick way to analyze existing processes to determine how effective they are. By redefining your processes using the SCOR framework and then measuring each process, you can quickly zero in on where your problems and opportunities lie.

My HP team decided that a framework-based approach was so much more efficient that we could afford the time to create some new frameworks for other major processes we were being asked to analyze at HP. In addition to the supply chain framework, which we adapted to HP’s needs, we created new frameworks for Demand Generation, Sales Operations, and Product Design.

Focusing on Demand Generation, the team then created a blueprint of potential internal work that needed to be done. We began by looking at the internal IT “Plan of Record”, or master projects list. We happened to have a very detailed list that resulted from the planning of merger integration activities between HP and Compaq, but most companies have a semblance of one that results from their project management activities. From that, we looked at specific project activities, estimated the need for process management expertise to make the project successful, and created a ranked list of opportunities, stakeholders, and sponsors.

In the case of Product Design, we took the SCOR implementation framework from the Supply-Chain Council, and broke it down into a series of schematic activities — model process, benchmark process, analyze process, etc. — and built up a “how-to” list, time estimates for performing work activities and working descriptions for non-process people that defined what the activities were and what they would produce. This resulted in our first list of ‘service products’ to discuss with the potential internal business program leaders.

For Sales Operations, our focus was to help the sponsors and stakeholders understand how specific process activities would help improve their project-based process work – acceleration, risk management, focus, and so on, using our standardized process approaches. Powerpoint presentations, staff-meetings and roadshows, one-on-one reviews of ongoing projects, and initial, simple examples of process change efforts which delivered business value, all helped us lock in our own “plan of record” for process engagements.

Lastly, we used the Supply-Chain framework with its detailed activities to manage the execution of several projects, and generated white papers and other internal sales materials to show the benefits of a whole series of supply chain projects.

During our first year, we have completed over 25 engagements involving all the business functions at HP. Each of the engagements resulted in a success. Each project involved changes in the business process and in IT performance. Meanwhile, we have continued to refine the details of our frameworks for Demand Generation, Sales Operations, Product Design, and Supply Chain. We would never have been able to do the projects we did if we had approached each as a unique project. The key to our success has been the use of frameworks that let us quickly get a handle on the project and assign metrics we can use to judge our success. To date, our work with the frameworks has remained very consistent.

I believe any newly-forming process team would do well to initially focus on reusable frameworks, and to define their own work using high-level business frameworks. They provide speed and consistency of approach. I’d specifically recommend a focus on the four areas we chose. The frameworks provide a way to explain exactly what we intend to do when we first sit down with an operational manager. In essence, they form a bridge between the promise of process (the marketing message), and the how (the products, engagement sponsorship, and process management performance). Having a structure in place makes all the difference.