Help Wanted—Diplomats Only Need Apply

By Allan Alter  |  Posted 10-24-2006

Help Wanted—Diplomats Only Need Apply

More than 90 percent of BPI projects involve cross-functional processes, yet only 34 percent of respondents to our most recent survey say their company's various departments work together effectively to coordinate their processes. And there's BPI's biggest challenge: Clearly, high quality software isn't enough. A good one-on-one working relationship between CIOs and other executives isn't sufficient, either—CIOs must be bridge-builders between other departments. They must understand the rivalries, histories and personalities of the departments involved. That may be especially true with marketing and sales, two of the three most difficult business functions to support. So as you embark on process improvement, channel your inner Condoleeza Rice or Madeline Albright.

For more data and analysis, see CIO Insight's Research Center blog at go.cioinsight.com/researchcentral

Next page: Coordination between departments, not IT's working relationship with departments, is the major stumbling block to BPI.

Coordination between departments, not

IT's working relationship with departments, is the major stumbling block to BPI.">

Finding 6. Lack of cross-functional cooperation thwarts BPI: Coordination between departments, not IT's working relationship with departments, is the major stumbling block to BPI.
Since most improvement efforts involve cross-functional processes, interdepartmental cooperation is critical. But most IT executives, especially at large companies, believe that cooperation leaves much to be desired. It's one reason why change is difficult, and why the pace of BPI isn't faster: Today, IT executives are much more upbeat about how well the IT function works with line departments and line management. The one sour note is that few have achieved a genuine partnership between IT and other departments on BPI. On the other hand, IT executives are facing almost no active resistance to IT involvement. It helps that at half of responding companies, the IT organization is considered the experts on business process change. They'll need that expertise, especially change-management and diplomatic skills.

Next page: IT struggles to support the marketing, human resources and sales functions.

IT struggles to support

the marketing, human resources and sales functions.">

Finding 7. The problem children of process improvement: IT struggles to support the marketing, human resources and sales functions.
These three departments, the most difficult for IT to support, are also among the least automated. What's holding them up? Seventy-six percent say the processes in these areas are not clearly defined, while 43 and 42 percent, respectively, say the business unit has been uncooperative, or cite budget limitations. Limited resources probably are why HR departments are difficult to support: Only 27 percent think improving HR processes is a priority. Our data also raises another red flag: the slow pace of change in manufacturing and production. Forty-six percent say there has been no change in that department's business processes. That bodes poorly for manufacturing innovation.



Research Guide:

  • Finding 1: Improving business processes is the top priority for many IT executives, especially at small and midsize companies.
  • Finding 2: Although process improvement is a priority, the pace of change is moderate.
  • Finding 3: Business process software and services often fail to meet expectations.
  • Finding 4: New integration technologies are starting to displace older enterprise applications.
  • Finding 5: Much more can be done to automate business processes.
  • Finding 6: Coordination between departments, not IT's working relationship with departments, is the major stumbling block to BPI.
  • Finding 7: IT struggles to support the marketing, human resources and sales functions.

    Read our previous surveys on process improvement:

  • Top Trends 2006: The Pursuit of the Frictionless Business Platform
  • Necessity Is the Mother of Velocity
  • Focusing IT on Innovation Will Come Back Into Vogue
  • Mobile Devices Will Become Strategic Necessities
  • Mobility + Collaboration = Productivity
  • Process Management Revs Up
  • The Real-Time Enterprise 2003: Can You Keep Up With Business Change?
  • Business Process Management