Process Practitioner Examples – Roles and Responsibilities Revisited

Assigning clearly defined roles and responsibilities are critical to the success of every process. These roles need to be defined early and reviewed periodically to ensure proper training, communication and education.  A process without clearly defined roles will fail at some level.  

There is a very clear distinction in the activities or the roles that are played out by individuals in your organization.  You should determine and communicate who is accountable and who is responsible for the process activities.  A role is like a hat.  One individual could wear two or more hats.  Watch out for titles.  You might have a title such as Service Transition Manager.  What role(s) would this individual fulfill? It all depends on WHO is best suited for the role or task that needs to be performed when it comes to assigning roles. The Service Transition Manager could be accountable or OWN the “Release and Deployment” process but might also be a practitioner and be responsible to perform tasks in other processes like Change Management and Configuration Management. 

There is a big difference between Accountability and Responsibility.  We frequently use the word responsible when in reality we should be saying accountable.  Process Owners and Service Owners are accountable.  Practitioners perform the work and are responsible for one or more activities in the process.

The Process Owner is “Accountable”
Accountable: Ownership of a process and/or activity.

The person who is held accountable ensures that the goals and objectives of a process are being followed.  Accountable roles ensure or "own" the process. For example, Joe the computer person might own Incident Management and Request Fulfillment.  Joe, in that case, wears two hats or has two ownership roles.  As Owner Joe will ensure that the process is defined, documented, communicated and he OWNs it.  Joe is the Point of Contact (POC) and is ultimately accountable for the success of the process or processes he owns.

Process Practitioners are “Responsible”
Responsible: Performer of a task.

Process Practitioners can be internal or external staff, suppliers, consultants - potentially even users and customers.  They are the "doers" of the process and their activities may cross into multiple groups and multiple processes. 

This person gets the work done and does not necessarily have the authority to ensure that others are getting their tasks completed. For example, there could be many Service Desk Agents who are responsible to record, categorize, prioritize and work an incident ticket all the way to close.  The Service Desk Agents, in this case, are Practitioners and have responsibilities such as:
  • Carrying out one or more process activities
  • Understanding how his or her role adds to value creation
  • Working with other stakeholders to ensure contributions are effective
  • Ensuring inputs, outputs and interfaces for activities are correct 
  • Creating or updating activity-based records
Process Managers? What are they?
Best Practice defines the generic Process Manager role as one that oversees the day to day activities. 

The Process Manager role will:
  • Work with the process owner
  • Manage resources on a day to day basis
  • Report upon the success of this process to the Process Owner 
There are some organizations where it would be appropriate for one person to be the Process Owner and the Process Manager of a process.  In a larger enterprise where things are a bit more complex you could have Sue, Dave and Dan as Process Managers in their local region for the Incident Management Process responsibilities.  All three could be reporting to Joe (the Process Owner).  Even though Sue, Dave and Dan are Process Managers and oversee that the day to day activities of the process are being carried out in their local region, there is still always only one individual who is accountable and that is Joe, the Process Owner.  A process is never done. Once the process and activities are defined and the roles are assigned the real ongoing Continual Service Improvement begins.

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