Since this was originally written – I have expanded on this concept and had it published over at The ITSM Review.
Over the past two months I’ve been involved in some really good discussions about the differences between process ownership versus process management.
This has been especially important at my company because there hasn’t been a lot of clarity around this nor has there been too much of either ownership or management of processes. As we started out to fix some of the process problems we have here, we needed to first understand the roles and responsibilities of owners and managers.
This is my understanding of the two and explanation of why they are important and different.
So what does it mean to own a process. The owner of a process is responsible for the creation, maintenance and improvement of that process. They are responsible for (at least here) collaborating with the people that will be using/abiding by the process and helping educate them on the process. They are responsible for ensuring the outcomes of the process line up with business objectives. This means, measuring the success factors and key performance indicators of the process (compliance comes to mind). Process owners need to ensure the processes are compliant to policies (IT, HR, Legal, other) and work with other processes (such as with taxonomy – what is defined as an “Incident” in one process is synonymous with another process).
The manager of a process has slightly different responsibilities. They are the executors of the process. The ones moving through the steps defined by the process, or at the very least ensuring that the ‘work’ is being moved through the steps in the proper order/manner as described by the process. They are responsible for managing the inputs/outputs of each step and for the final output of the process matching what is expected as detailed/described by the process. Which is to say if the process is not defined well or if defined incorrectly, that is not the manager’s fault – but the owner’s fault. The manager is required only produce the output as to the defined expectations. The manager should offer input to the process owner for improvements but is not responsible for updating the process. The process manager should also have critical success factors and KPI’s for his/her input and outputs and analyze those reports.
So the owner should be bigger picture, describing how things should move through a process. A manager is tactical, actually moving through the process.
These are of course roles, and don’t necessarily have to be different people. They do require different types of thinking and outputs. Depending on the size, scope, complexity of the process it may be wise to have different people play these roles.
Moreover, you should have only one process owner but you may have multiple process managers (perhaps they only manage a portion, or perhaps they manage only certain teams through the process).