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Article Analysis: Business Process Improvement

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Autor:  anton  30 December 2010
Tags:  Article,  Analysis,  Business,  Process,  Improvement
Words: 974   |   Pages: 4
Views: 465


The role of information technology (IT) in the world of business process improvement can take many forms. From an automation standpoint, no one knows more about the subject than the IT professionals within an organization. From the business unit perspective, no one knows more than the department professionals. The article selected for this analysis is titled "Whose is Process Improvement Anyway?" by Meridith Levinson. It describes two separate organizations that utilize IT in their business process improvement strategies. It further describes the hurdles that must be overcome to make IT a leader in business process improvement initiatives.

As technology improves and newer business process improvement software is developed, IT becomes more ingrained in the practice of automating outdated business practices. As one might guess would happen, lines are drawn in the proverbial sand and political infighting ensues between those that want to automate and those that see an outside organization telling them how to do their business. If not put into practice the correct way, IT led business process improvement will surely lead to fractured egos and long-term consternation between the parties involved.

In many organizations, IT is the easy target for poor performance. How often do we hear excuses such as, "Well, the network is down and IT can not seem to get it fixed" as the reason for a missed deadline? In situations such as these, the mere idea of IT leading any sort of process improvement is almost comical. Most of us have worked in an environment where IT simply could not do what we think they should. Then on the other hand, there are some IT departments that run like a European sports car. In either case, the question of what role IT should play in business process improvement is perplexing. The business unit that owns the process certainly knows their job better than the IT department. However, perhaps they need an outsider's perspective with a keen eye for automation to assist them in improving outdated processes and procedures.

The City of Minneapolis

In this particular article, the first scenario presented involves the city of Minneapolis and the implementation of a В‘311' system. The problem stemmed from city residents not knowing who in the local government to call to report routine problems. If a citizen needed to report a bad traffic signal, they were forced to search through the phonebook's 275 listings for the city offices. Due to the obvious problem presented, some residents would forego the phonebook and dial В‘911' emergency services to report these non-emergencies. That presented not only a problem to the city government, but also to the citizenry through the tying up of emergency workers and systems.

The chief information officer (CIO) for the city took it upon himself to implement a non-emergency В‘311' system to assist in this growing problem. The main problem that he encountered stemmed entirely from the reputation the IT had within the city government. At the time, the IT department was called Information Technology Services (ITS), and the common translation for the acronym was "It totally sucks". This is hardly the recipe for a successful leading of an IT led business process improvement project.

In an effort to change the image of the IT department, the CIO then outsourced all IT infrastructure support to Unisys. He then renamed the department to Business Information Services. Finally, he worked diligently at selling his newly made over department to the other city government agencies. It took nearly four years, but the end result is that the other agencies now look to him as an agent for change in the business improvement realm.

First Horizon National

The second scenario involves First Horizon National, of Memphis. This particular company utilizes a project manager of sorts that acts as a liaison in business process improvement initiatives. IT plays a role, but it is more of a partnership one where they act as a technical advisor in issues related to automation. This particular implementation is actually more pleasing to the business unit, as IT is a partner that is brought into the process rather than initiating it.

In this article, the author does not offer an opinion regarding the proper role that IT should play in business process improvement projects. Given the source, CIO Magazine, it can be assumed that the author feels that IT should have some sort of leading role in the process. Personally, I do not feel that IT should lead any business process improvement projects that are not IT specific. I believe that IT is an important cog in the machine, but their involvement should be limited to that of an advisor for issues involving automation. IT should know automation, but they do not know the job of public works, for example.

In my particular workplace, the role of IT in business process improvement should be limited. The bulk of our operations workforce is actually IT professionals. Our business is related to IT quite heavily. At the present time, I am working on a customer engagement methodology. It will actually be a В‘toolbox' of sorts that all operations employees can utilize on any customer engagement. The process will need IT input at some point, but the actual processes of how we deal with our customers are better defined by those that deal with them on a daily basis.


The article that I chose for this analysis was essentially a synopsis of two В‘best practices' in regards to IT involvement in business process improvement. IT should play a role, but not the spearhead for any of these types of projects. If the IT department were called into a network architecture improvement project by the sales team I doubt that they would be overjoyed.


Levinson, M. (2006). Whose business is process improvement anyway? CIO Magazine, November 1, 2006. Retrieved on March 4, 2007, from http://www.cio.com

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