3.0 BPM as Overarching Management Discipline

For a long time, practitioners, especially business executives have questioned the value of Business Process Management. However, this situation changed over the past 5-7 years. Most organizations and their leadership start to understand the value and significant business impact of Business Process Management. Research involving over 90 organizations around the world of different sizes and industries has shown that companies that use Business Process Management on an ongoing basis get significant value in return (Kirchmer, Lehmann, Rosemann, zur Muehlen, Laengle, 2013).

We define Business Process Management (shown diagrammatically in Figure 2 below) as the management discipline that transfers strategy into execution – at pace with certainty (Franz, Kirchmer, 2012). This definition shows that Business Process Management uses the “business process” concept as vehicle for a cross-organizational strategy execution, which can be people or technology based – or a combination of both.

Figure 2: BPM-D® Framework: Value-driven Business Process Management

The Business Process Management discipline addresses the entire business process lifecycle, from design, implementation through the execution and control of a process. This thinking is well aligned and consistent with the basics of traditional process improvement methods such as the DMAIC (Design, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control) improvement methodology of Six Sigma (Snee, Hoerl, 2003).

In order to develop and deploy the management discipline of Business Process Management, it should be approached just as with any other management discipline. In the same way you develop, for example, a human resources (HR) management discipline by implementing HR processes and systems, you develop the BPM-Discipline by implementing the “process of process management” (PoPM) with the relevant BPM information and systems (Kirchmer, Franz, 2015) (Franz, Kirchmer, 2012).

Figure 3 shows the BPM-D ® Process Framework, a reference model for the PoPM. It illustrates important capabilities and sub-processes that an organization needs to address in order to establish a BPM-Discipline including process improvement and innovation approaches.

Figure 3: BPM-D® Process Framework

While the patent-pending BPM-D ® Process Framework consists of many capabilities and sub-processes, not every organization will need to implement all capabilities fully or close all existing capability gaps. Companies that leverage traditional process improvement approaches normally already have strong capabilities in certain areas of the BPM-D ® Process Framework. For example, they most likely have existing improvement approaches for incremental improvement and continuous improvement projects. Or they use traditional tools (e.g. Mini-Tab, Jump, etc.) to support process analysis. (E.g. Mini-Tab, Jump, etc.)

For companies that already leverage traditional process improvement approaches it is important to develop additional capabilities in order to build a value-driven Business Process Management discipline that delivers business business-outcomes in a fast and reliable manner. This is shown in the model in Figure 4 below. These new capabilities combined and integrated with their existing capabilities build a powerful foundation of their new management discipline – ready for systematic strategy execution.

Figure 4: BPM prevents issues as far as possible and fixes remaining issues using APROPRIATE approaches

Let’s take a look at the additional capabilities and processes that a company with traditional improvement approaches would require to build a value-driven Business Process Management discipline:

Process & Data Governance

Companies that utilize traditional process improvement approaches often struggle to implement and sustain improvement results. In order to improve this situation, a proper process governance model needs to be established that goes beyond the boundaries of project work. A permanent process governance model and processes with dedicated roles, responsibilities and accountabilities are an excellent way to transition from a project-oriented approach to address process issues to a sustainable, long-term model of governing and managing business processes continuously.

This capability needs to define the necessary leadership roles (e.g. Chief Process Officer, Process Owners, etc.) that are ultimately accountable for developing a value-driven Business Process Management discipline or owning core business processes of an organization. It also needs to address how decisions are made, what governing bodies are required, how they fit with existing decision-making entities, or what escalation processes are necessary in case of issues or disagreements. These are critical capabilities that shift a company’s process improvement philosophy from a short-term, process-oriented view to a long-term, sustainable model.

Process Strategy

Another important capability that needs to be addressed early, is the development of an approach for operationalizing a company’s business strategy in order to differentiate between high-impact processes and so-called commodity processes. This starts by deriving strategic value-drivers from the organization’s strategy and linking them to the core processes in the organization. These business processes are then evaluated based on their total assessed impact on the specific value-drivers. As a result of this top-down approach, a company has a clear understanding what processes have a high impact on its business strategy and what processes are less critical for achieving its strategic objectives.

With this process prioritization and systematic segmentation of processes, a company can then decide what improvement approaches are best suited for delivering the desired outcomes. For example, for high-impact processes it might be appropriate to utilize sophisticated process innovation or optimization techniques, whereas traditional improvement techniques or process automation are sufficient for certain commodity processes.

Process management capability gaps can be identified in the context of the needs of high-impact processes. As a result organizations can prioritize those capabilities that are most important for them.

With the proper process strategy capability in place, a company can now ensure that all improvement initiatives are aligned with their business strategies and that the appropriate process improvement approaches are used to deliver the desired outcomes.

Enterprise Architecture

In our increasingly digital world, organizations have to master the ability to continuously adapt to an ever-changing business environment in order to strive and to survive in the medium to long-term. Because of this, business processes and enabling systems change constantly.

Unfortunately, many companies don’t leverage Enterprise Architecture or Process Architecture capabilities enough to address this issue. Processes are typically documented to support individual improvement or implementation initiatives, but this valuable information is often not maintained after the end of a project or even reused during future initiatives that address the same process.

With the proper Enterprise Architecture capabilities (and the enabling software tool capabilities), a company can manage their process and system documentation throughout their lifecycle to increase transparency, build process knowledge and reduce the duration of process improvement initiatives. In addition, a common enterprise process framework can build the foundation for process governance and process prioritization initiatives as described above.

In order to deliver real business value through enterprise and process architectures the appropriate usage scenarios need to be designed. Another key task of the appropriate components of the process of process management.

Tools & Technology

New trends such as digitalization, cloud, social collaboration are forcing companies to rethink their strategies, change the way they operate and significantly alter business processes. Business process management tools and technologies play an increasingly important role to address some of these emerging trends.

For example, more and more companies utilize business process modelling, enterprise architecture and process repository tools to document, maintain and distribute process knowledge and enterprise architecture artifacts. These tools make it easy for people involved in process improvement initiatives or individuals managing business processes to capture, retain and communicate process information. The increased transparency is the basis for efficient knowledge transfer, increased end-to-end process thinking and improved decision-making during an improvement project or after a new process gets implemented.

With these capabilities, companies are able to bridge the gap between business and IT more easily by using a common tool and framework to document business processes, communicate business and IT requirements while leveraging social collaboration features that support knowledge sharing and new governance processes.


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