There is no denying that processes are the building blocks of Operations, and ensuring strong process mechanics is an integral part of Operations management. Sometimes though, Operations executives are so focused on perfecting individual process steps that they lose sight of the bigger picture: the end-to-end process value chain.

Managing processes end-to-end has a number of advantages including reducing the number of handoffs between steps, thus improving a firm’s responsiveness to its customers. After all, a process is only as good as its weakest step. Our research shows that firms that effectively manage their end-to-end processes grow revenue 42% faster than their peers, and are 20% more efficient.

So the next question is: how do firms become effective in end-to-end process management? Earlier this year, we surveyed Operations executives around the globe from thirty-eight financial services firms on their end-to-end process management strategies. We found the biggest differentiator of leading firms is their focus on process governance, not perfection of process steps.

Process governance involves establishing both formal and informal accountability across a process. Developing perfect process steps won’t do much good if firms don’t assign clear ownership of those steps. For firms that do develop process governance, the tendency is to first create informal governance (for example, by establishing informal cross functional groups and improving visibility of process bottlenecks), and formalize that governance over time through strategies like creating official process-owner roles and enterprise-level performance metrics. However, our research shows that those firms that are most successful at establishing process governance create formal structures first, and reinforce them over time through informal governance.

Read our research brief on Rebuilding the Value Chain to learn how leading firms have developed robust end-to-end process management by creating staffing structures, assigning team-level process ownership, and auditing processes on end-to-end maturity criteria.