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The Role of Process Owners

May 18, 2023

If you’ve ever researched process improvement or operational excellence, the importance of optimizing your business processes to improve performance, you’ve probably heard of process owners. These professionals work within organizations to help them finetune processes that have already gone through what we call operational redesign. They help maintain the way the business operates on a day-to-day basis, revising when necessary. But what exactly is their role and responsibilities, and what else do they do? 

We’ll cover this and more. 

Who is the process owner?
A process is a series of activities and tasks that transform inputs into outputs, and the process owner is responsible for designing and managing these processes to ensure they are effective and efficient.  

The process owner is not usually a manager or leader, but they should be a subject matter expert in the process they are responsible for. They should have a deep understanding of the process so they can identify opportunities for improvement and be able to influence others in the team and carry out solutions. 

A process owner must be actively involved in the process, actually doing the work every day, as they will have firsthand experience of both the pains and benefits of the process. They should be able to monitor, study, and improve the process to identify and address any problems or bottlenecks. 

It’s also important for the process owner to have a clear understanding of their role and responsibilities, as they play a critical role in ensuring the effectiveness and efficiency of the process. They should be able to work effectively with others in the team, even if they do not directly report to them to achieve the desired outcomes. 

Why process owners matter
Above all, process owners help an organization meet its targets or goals. 

They do this in various ways, including providing visibility to stakeholders, empowering employees to contribute their feedback and ideas to improve the organization, and maintaining documentation to ensure continuity. 

For many companies, processes span multiple departments, meaning everyone loses touch with the bigger picture. Process owners can cut through the noise, understand interactions between different departments, and manage everything end-to-end to help solve the most pressing issues. 

Responsibilities of a process owner
The responsibilities of a process owner may vary depending on the project at hand and their own unique approach.  

However, you could typically expect any of the following: 

  • Adopting the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) methodology for continuous improvement: Used to identify opportunities for improvement, implement changes, and evaluate the results. 
  • Implementation, maintenance, and improvement of the process to ensure the process is running smoothly and efficiently. 
  • Developing a deep understanding of how their process fits into the overall organizational structure, including what processes feed into their process and what downstream processes rely on their process.  
  • Creating a process map to understand how a company operates, what groups are affected, and who is involved.  
  • Constructing their vision and objectives. 
  • Balancing the scope, budget, and time constraints of their process and prioritizing tasks accordingly. 
  • Planning, fine-tuning, and reviewing projects related to their process. 
  • Anticipating the needs of customers. 

How organizations can work with a process owner effectively
For organizations to effectively work with a process owner, it is important to involve them in decision-making from the beginning and to keep them involved through review sessions. This will help to ensure that the process owner is fully engaged and can contribute their expertise and knowledge to the process. 

It is also vital for organizations to understand how a process owner’s process interacts with upstream and downstream processes, as this will help identify any potential bottlenecks or problems that may impact the organization’s overall efficiency. 

One way to work effectively with a process owner is to take a data-driven approach, using technology with business intelligence capabilities to gather and analyze data on the process. This can help to identify early failures and identify opportunities for improvement. 

Having documentation is also important, as it allows the process to continue even if the process owner is no longer available. This documentation should be comprehensive and should allow anyone to manage or troubleshoot a process without the process owner’s input. 

Don’t underestimate process owners
Processes are crucial for success in any organization, and if you’re going in, don’t forget to involve process owners.  

We take a thorough and flexible approach to change management to account for the unique features of your business. If you’d like to find out more, contact us to schedule a consultation.