Supporting Organizational Structures - Page 2

Jul 20, 2007

Marcia Gulesian

Another revolution occurs. A new top management team is brought in to restore head office control and increase coordination between units. A segment structure is overlaid on the business units, and new centralized staff groups assume responsibility for planning, coordination, and resource allocation.

Business unit managers must now obtain approval from powerful headquarters staff specialists before embarking on any major strategy commitment or allocation of resources. A great deal of time is devoted to meetings to set and review strategy, allocate resources, and evaluate segment performance.

Over time, as central staff groups become more powerful, yet another crisis occurs, this time a “crisis of red tape.” Operating managers feel that decision making has become burdensomely slow. A great deal of time is wasted in the corporate staff meetings. More focused and nimble competitors are overtaking the company in the marketplace.

In the final stage, a new manager is hired again. This time, however, the mandate is to cut through the bureaucracy and get back to basics. The organization is radically simplified; non-core businesses are sold; centralized staff groups are dismantled; and direct accountability for results is again emphasized.

As the structure of an organization changes, so also do the business processes that make up the organization.

The CIO and IT Staff

In the early days of IT, people were often paid to develop information systems without being held accountable for the expected benefits. Some years later, IT professionals became more involved with business strategists. Today, business process is one of the first thing a CIO or an IT staff member should think of because business process is now at the core of an IT organization's existence.

To that end, a holistic picture of a business process must include not only the relevant software, data feeds, reports, and databases, but also show how these elements are both embedded and flow together, alongside manual activities, operational workflow, and other business functions.

For better or worse, the job of the CIO is to know "everything" about a business process, including how and when it’s about to change. That's not to say that he or she and the IT staff should be accountable for all the details of a particular business picture, but it is to say that they should know about process analysis and participate in it.


In the years ahead, service-orientated architecture (SOA) business process management (BPM) products promise to transform business systems development from a slow, error-prone manual coding effort into the rapid, automatic generation of executable BPM code. Until the recent past, when business changes occurred, we have had to manually change code in monolithic programs and manually retest. Instead, using today’s SOA BPM products, these changes can be made diagrammatically at the process model or workflow diagram level. Executable code that reflects these changes is then automatically regenerated.

SOA BPM products provide rapid response rates, and boost the ROI of the solution because they help ensure that business goals are in line with the BPM solution, regardless of whether those goals change daily or monthly.

Whether its SAP, Oracle, or Microsoft (the major vendors of BPM packages), R.I.M. (the leading vendor of handheld wireless devices), or Nuance (the leading vendor of speech recognition software), industry leaders (and followers) are delivering web services-enabled applications. (SOA and web services are two different things, but web services are the preferred standards-based way to realize SOA.)

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