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Can Your CIO Also be the CPO

September 2, 2010

Interesting thoughts from Ann All of IT Business Edge on a topic I’ve been passionate about before: Is the CIO the Right Person to Champion Process Improvement? I support any movement toward process stewardship and appreciate Ann taking on this cause. No doubt, the CIO has a good high-level perspective and organizational clout and is home to some of the skills needed. But, making them the Chief Process Officer (CPO) may be a stretch.

While technology is a key aspect of process improvement, I’m not sure it is the most important. Fundamental skills I see as critical for a CPO role are often not core in them or their organization (lean, six sigma, change management, etc.) They usually lack organizational authority to direct process change that can impact organizational structure and operational rules and procedures. I also see the roles as too broad to be shared. These may all be reasons why, as Ann admits, “Some CIOs shy away from this kind of a role.” Yes, they should be actively involved, but it may just not be within a CIO’s influence and their organization’s capabilities to take on the CPO responsibility.

So, where should that responsibility lie? I would start in an operational role. The COO must first buy into the notion that processes are strategic assets and see value in their explicit management. Once that is internalized and communicated, she should empower an owner for each enterprise process. This owner should have the authority to influence the people, functions, technology, rules, workflow and other resources across the process. The owners would get coordination and deep skills through the CPO who empowers them and coordinates a process center of excellence.

So, can the CIO take on the CPO role? Read Ann’s thoughts and let me know yours.

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