We had originally conceived of this “topic of the month” series as a showcase for our work on the reporting structures and metrics that govern the different content themes our members care about – things like risk, day-to-day transaction processing, and customer experience improvement. I guess you could say we were narrowly focusing on the governance of people and their performance, but as we kicked off our upcoming work on Business Process Management, it occurred to us that governance isn’t the sole domain of employees, but rather that process performance, much like employee performance, needs to be managed and governed.

But how can you govern what you can’t see? In a service industry, a process is made up of the collective actions of many individual stakeholders, including customers and vendors. If you don’t have a good handle on the who, how and when of those collective actions, you don’t have a good handle on your processes.  If you don’t understand your processes you aren’t governing your processes, you are just letting them randomly run their course.  Our members are acutely aware of the consequences this has on the customer experience, but many of them are starting to realize that lack of appropriate process documentation – one of the building blocks of governance – also presents a great deal of operational risk for their institutions.

This is why our member Heath Financial, a large international retail and commercial banking institution, places a great deal of focus on process documentation and governance.  While many members might be tempted to see Heath’s practice as “just another process mapping case,” we found that the simplicity with which they document complex information about the who, when and how behind their processes creates enough visibility to help alert them to process deficiencies related to risk management, cost managent and customer experience management that more than compensate for their efforts to create this documentation.