The following article is based on an excerpt from Value-Driven Business Process Management, published by McGraw-Hill, and is used with permission.

Every organization is different, but nearly every organization faces similar difficulties in the current challenging economic environment. CEOs and senior management teams are asking how to better align execution with strategy; how to focus management efforts on the most important problems; and how to increase transparency in the most important areas of their business. These organizations also want to know how to improve their agility in adapting to new market conditions. They wonder whether incremental improvement is enough, or whether they need to seek fundamental business transformation.

We have found that, by applying the management discipline we call value-driven business process management, companies can make immediate and lasting improvement. Value-driven business process management (BPM) uses process as the critical link to translate business strategy into execution. It sets the right focus for initiatives based on the strategic imperatives of an organization and converts business processes into real assets that provide competitive advantage. Value-driven BPM makes business processes more adaptable, enabling more agility in adjusting strategy in response to the dynamic business environment.

When properly structured and implemented, this discipline helps the organization focus on value as an organizing principle. We have learned, however, that nothing happens repeatedly unless it is embedded in the organization. If value-driven BPM is to be more than a one-time project, it should become an integral part of the way things get done. There should exist -- somewhere in the company -- a central cognitive function that directs and guides all of the different elements of BPM. Just as human resources is represented through a centralized function that oversees the various HR processes carried out throughout the organization, BPM should have its own management organization.

In most cases, the BPM Center of Excellence (CoE) is this organization. The CoE provides governance over what we call the "Process of Process Management" and explores how it can be integrated into the business. The CoE is the brain, so to speak, that masterminds and coordinates the implementation of value-driven BPM.

BPM and many other related process improvement initiatives have not always taken hold in the way they were intended. In part, this is because too much of the advanced thinking about process stays inside a central repository -- in effect, a locked box -- rather than being built into the daily life of the organization. The CoE leads the process through which all other parts of the organization absorb BPM.

This does not happen all at once. An education campaign should empower roles outside the CoE to contribute learning and integration of process excellence in the day-to-day lives of everyone in the organization. When this happens, the "BPM organization" is no longer a separate group but is part of each organization. Process is a competitive advantage, and its elevated importance becomes part of the corporate identity.