I recently had the opportunity to conduct a series of CIO roundtables to explore enterprise CMS trends that are top-of-mind for IT leaders. Here’s what I can tell you: What CIOs want for Christmas is a Chief Process Officer (CPO).

According to our CIOs, IT spending is increasingly being viewed as an investment rather than an expense. CIOs are being tasked with getting more value out of their existing stacks, and creating composite applications is an effective way of achieving this goal. However, as more of these composite applications are created, bringing together different systems, departments and ways of getting work done, the need to clearly define process is becoming more important than ever.

Enter the CPO.

All I Want for Christmas…

When it comes to success, every CIO has different goals. “Success means people aren’t complaining,” said one roundtable participant. “Success is being able to demonstrate your promises,” said another. Others had more intangible ambitions: “Success is driving innovation into the hearts and minds of your users.”

Regardless of how they define success, CIOs agree that change management is central to achieving their goals, particularly because business unit leaders don’t always understand the value of IT initiatives.

In general, CIOs are tasked with consolidating systems, harnessing efficiencies and doing more with less -- on an enterprise-wide scale. Business unit leaders, however, tend to have a less expansive view. According to Gartner’s Kenneth Chin, “If you’re responsible for a department, then that is your enterprise.”

In other words, business unit leaders tend to push for the technology that will best serve their needs, without taking the rest of the organization into consideration. The CIO is the one who can see the big picture, who can implement the technology that will optimize processes across the entire organization -- not just in one or two departments.

Our CIOs noted that selling the need for new technology to the business units frequently triggers one of two reactions:

  • Resistance from people who don’t understand their own business processes and who just want to do things the way they’ve always been done.
  • Resistance from people who are technically savvy and believe they need “a cannonball when what they really need is a fly swatter.”

Both of these problems could be addressed by a CPO.

What Is a Chief Process Officer?

As defined by the attendees at our roundtables, the Chief Process Officer has a hybrid role. Ideally, the CPO comes from an IT background but has spent time embedded in different business units. This gives the CPO a “feet-on-the-street” understanding of the needs of the different BUs and the technical expertise to implement software and systems that meet those needs. It also gives the CPO practice advocating for -- and negotiating with -- a variety of LOBs.

The CPO’s job is to identify and analyze core processes, identify process owners and work with them to transition them onto enterprise systems while optimizing their workflows. Communication -- and the ability to “market” change -- is a huge part of the CPO’s job.

When it comes to ECM, a key metric of success for the CPO is minimizing turnover from frustration with the document infrastructure. Our research has shown that more than 80% of digital resources are not accessible across the enterprise because of information silos. It would be the CPO’s job to change this.

Another important goal for the CPO is to use the ECM system to create composite content applications that are used successfully across departments. A few examples of ECM-centric composite applications include:

  • Benefits enrollment
  • Case management
  • Claims processing
  • Contract management
  • Correspondence support
  • Invoice processing
  • HR on-boarding
  • Purchase order management
  • Sales order and material processing

Our CIOs noted that ECM systems that include a graphical workflow interface are particularly helpful for CPOs, who can use the graphical representation of a process when reviewing it with process owners and other key staff.

Some organizations hire consultants to do CPO-type of work, but our CIOs cautioned against this approach. “It takes so long to teach them about our business,” said one roundtable attendee, “and then they tend to give us an answer we already know.”

Our CIOs all agreed that success is hard to measure. Enlisting the help of a CPO to keep track of the moving targets at the different BUs will empower CIOs to keep their eye on what’s best for the enterprise as a whole.

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