Communicating the GSBPM – How GSBPM’s other uses can play a role
The GSBPM has been successfully used by statistical organisations as a framework to develop IT systems for statistical production. In particular, it has helped to provide the basis for generic production systems. This concords with the stated purpose of the GSBPM, to “provide a basis for statistical organisations to agree on standard terminology to aid their discussions on developing statistical metadata systems and processes”. However, this progress has one (at least) disadvantage: the GSBPM is often perceived as being the “property” of IT specialists. This misapprehension is widespread, at all organisational levels, and is a constraint on the full realisation of the potential benefits of the GSBPM.
This short paper looks at some possible ways of building greater awareness of the model and extending that awareness beyond the IT community. Section VII of the GSBPM document described several Other Uses of the GSBPM; in total it listed 12 examples. The introduction to Section VII stated that these were potential uses, to inspire further ideas. This paper will look at only a small subset of the ideas in Section VII of the original GSBPM document.
Time Recording & Management
This would be a very simple way of making staff aware that their everyday work fits within an overall process model. By aligning the activity categories in time reporting systems with the GSBPM, staff would become more aware of the GSBPM activity breakdown. It would generally be sufficient to record time using the Level 1 breakdown of the GSBPM (nine categories).
Most frontline statistical production staff are primarily involved in Collection and Processing; statisticians and analysts are largely involved in the Analyse and Disseminate steps; IT development staff spend a lot of their time on the Specify Needs, Design and Build phases, in collaboration with statistical managers.
So, a time recording system which distinguishes the Level-1 GSBPM processes will have relevance for the majority of staff in a statistical organisation. The time recording system and related management reports will be a regular reminder, albeit at a fairly basic level, of the GSBPM framework.
In part, this follows from the previous point. On the basis of staff time allocation, labour costs can be allocated to GSBPM processes. In most NSIs, the production steps (Collect, Process, Analyse, Disseminate) should account for the majority of labour cost; this will also hold true for International Organisations but probably with relatively more resources devoted to Analysis and Dissemination.
However, many overhead activities fall outside the scope of the GSBPM. Overheads such as HR, Buildings, IT infrastructure and other administrative support services are not identifiable in the GSBPM framework. Essentially, these are over-arching processes which are necessary to the provision of the statistical service (they are also necessary in non-statistical organisations). While these processes don’t need to be added to the GSBPM model, it may be possible to map some overhead costs to the GSBPM.
For example, some IT infrastructure costs will map directly to processes such as Collection (e.g. field force IT equipment and software) or Dissemination (e.g. website maintenance). Where overhead costs can be directly mapped to a GSBPM process, more complete information on the costs relating to the process can be included in management reports. This will help to raise the profile of the GSBPM and to focus management thinking and decision-making on the business process model.
The GSBPM identifies two over-arching processes – Quality Management and Metadata Management. Quality Management is closely identified with Phase 9 (Evaluation) but is present throughout the GSBPM. Indeed, the entire GSBPM can be viewed at a summary level as a framework for the quality management lifecycle.
The first three phases (Specify Needs, Design, and Build) constitute, at a broad level, Planning.
The next five (Collect, Process, Analyse, Disseminate and Archive) correspond to Production.
Together with Phase 9 (Evaluation), the GSBPM can therefore be viewed in the following way:
Planning – Production – Evaluation – Improvement.
Business improvement processes are now common practice in most statistical organisations and, whatever formal mechanism is used (e.g. Six Sigma etc.), the GSBPM provides a framework both for describing the detail of the statistical process and for communicating the overall philosophy of improvement. The benefits gained from process improvement can therefore be associated with the GSBPM, further raising awareness of the model.