Governance is important. You wouldn’t be happy with ungoverned inventory control data, accounting information, or software code so why would you be happy with the DNA of the business – process documentation – being ungoverned.

For some industries governance is not important, it is critical. Pharma and the food companies are governed by the FDA. The banking industry is regulated by the FSA. Both the FDA and FSA recognise that process content in MSOffice or some other ungoverned mapping tool is unacceptable, hence the increase in usage of process repositories.

But some estimates suggest 80%+ of companies rely on MS Office (Visio, Powerpoint, Word) for process documentation. Scary.

So if you have ungoverned process documentation, how can you be confident that you are automating the correct proceses. All BPM activities need to start with a solid foundation.

At my company’s we have been mirroring the software development approach when looking at governing process documentation. You have different versions of the process model; production, pre-production/test, development. There is a formal sign-off to move between these different states. The BPM application should make the move easy.

Here the business can learn from IT. Process documentation in MSVisio or Powerpoint and then stored in Sharepoint is not necessarily governance. It is more subtle that that. There is version control, audit, sign-off, review, notifications that all required to make the governance cycle manageable and not a nightmare email or paperchase.

The interrelationships between the different diagrams and attached files in the model need to be controlled. And what about multiple language variants of each process diagram. Make it too difficult and it won’t be managed.

Some of you are say that it is unrealistic to control to this level of granularity, but Fortune 1000 companies ARE this complex, and they are driving the requirements.

So either do governance properly or not at all. You are either in control or not.