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Process owners: Who are they & what role do they play?

Process owners exist in every organization, but there can be some confusion surrounding the role and the duties that come with it. As companies lean more into digitizing their operations, the effects are felt from the very top, right down to the fabric. This includes business processes.

Many people can be process owners without having an official title; some do the work without even realizing they own a process and account for it. In this article, we’re going to look at process owners in detail, covering what they do, the qualities they should possess, and how technology is helping them improve cross-functional collaboration and business performance.

What is a business process?

To define what a process owner does, it’s important to understand what a business process is first. Simply put, business processes are what make companies deliver value to customers by connecting the various functions that operate separately. Every organization is divided into separate departments, each one with a different activity and goal, be it internal or external. To provide any value, they must work together, like instruments in an orchestra. Operating independently would render them almost useless. Development can’t work without testing, and nobody can work without finance. The way they work between them is defined by business processes that act like glue. Some are overly complex and time-consuming, while others are simple but must be error-free to work well.

So, what is a Process Owner?

Process owners are essential for the success of a business process, and their strategic role can include an extensive list of responsibilities. Their work revolves around the how, not the why, and is almost exclusively cross-functional. While they’re not always authority figures, process owners are subject matter experts with in-depth knowledge of the process and a strong connection with management.

They have an ongoing duty to design, develop, implement, measure, and report on the performance of business processes. Here is an open list of common responsibilities, which differ depending on the organization’s structure:

· Defining process goals, vision, and KPIs

· Process design and development

· Aligning with other process owners

· Ensuring there are no misalignments between functions and roles

· Ensuring process integrity

· Responding to abnormal conditions or process failures

· Ensuring that all the resources involved in the process are well-trained and equipped to do their part in the process

· Reviewing and approving process changes

· Keeping management updated about process performance or interruptions

But apart from this brief role description, process owners are unofficial ambassadors of cross-functional collaboration. Besides making sure that processes run smoothly, they’re an important influence on the culture of their company.

Often being a process owner is more of a role than an actual job. If all goes well, on most days process owners shouldn’t even need to pay attention to the processes. To make this happen, process owners must make sure that processes and flows are well looked after and improved instead of deteriorating in time. They must be proactive and reactive when abnormal conditions or changes keep the process from working properly.

What a process owner isn’t

Process owners are not project managers, although sometimes the two get confused. A process owner is not solely responsible for the execution of the process, as this lies with the individual resources involved in the process. He or she also doesn’t necessarily manage the people involved in executing the business process, but this also depends on the structure of the organization.

Optimizing business processes

Business processes must constantly evolve under the pressure of changes in customer demands, market context, and competition. Leaders look to their IT departments to manage process optimization by leveraging technology like automation. Tech-enabled process transformations require process owners to often redesign processes completely and align them with new company visions. But it is not always an easy job.

Complexity varies and some processes are more suited to be enhanced with automation than others. Most often they include high-volume tasks, require too many people to oversee the tasks, are time-sensitive by nature, or have a significant impact on the company’s systems.

At Atomatik, we specialize in process automation, optimization, and transformation by delegating a wide range of tasks to digital assistants. We realize it can be challenging for process owners to transition from a conventional process execution to an automated one. That’s why we believe it’s important to provide them with the right support. Although automation has become a pillar of digitalization across industries, it is often approached with reluctance and a lack of assistance throughout the maintenance journey.

Atomatik’s automation platform was built with non-technical process owners in mind. We believe automating a process shouldn’t be conditioned by programming skills. Besides providing a truly no-code solution, we provide process owners with all the logistic help, training, and knowledge they need — from early stages of process discovery right through to maintenance and support following implementation.

If you’d like to learn more about how Atomatik can make processes faster, more efficient, and more accurate, book a call with our sales team today.


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