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Archive of posts filed under the General category.

Survey on Process Management: Process-Oriented HR-Systems

Human resources systems have to support the process approach (Hammer, 2007). Process-oriented HR-systems incorporate job descriptions based on business process design and incentive systems that emphasize the process’ needs. This article discusses empirical insights on process-oriented HR-systems using the results of the process management survey. Survey details (research design, sample, etc.) can be found here.

In most of the firms, the design of business processes moderately drive role definitions, job descriptions and competency profiles (see figure below). The item “Process’ design drive role definitions, job descriptions and competency profiles” was rated by the firms in the sample as follows:

  • 26,85%: Disagree
  • 40,27%: Neither agree nor disagree
  • 32,89%: Agree
Process’ design drive role definitions, job descriptions and competency profiles.

Process’ design drive role definitions, job descriptions and competency profiles.

Old reward systems based on the functional model are no longer viable in a process-based organization (Armistead and Rowland, 1996). Traditional vertical management systems pull people in one direction, whereas they should work for the interest of inter-functional processes. Therefore, management systems also need to emphasize the process’ needs, otherwise conflict and confusion ensue, lowering performance (Hammer and Stanton, 1999). Interestingly, most of the surveyed organizations do not have reward systems in place that emphasize the needs of the organization’s business processes. The item “Our organization has implemented reward systems (incentive systems) that emphasize the needs of the organization’s business processes” was rated by the firms as follows:

  • 69,33%: Disagree
  • 16,67%: Neither agree nor disagree
  • 14,00%: Agree
The organization has implemented reward systems (incentive systems) that emphasize the needs of the organization’s business processes.

The organization has implemented reward systems (incentive systems) that emphasize the needs of the organization’s business processes.

The Impact of Process Ownership and Process Performance Measurement on Firm Performance

This article summarizes the study “Process Ownership, Process Performance Measurement and Firm Performance” by Kohlbacher M. and Gruenwald S., to be published in the International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 60, Issue 7, 2011.

Process performance measurement and the process owner role are two key components of business process orientation. The article investigates whether the implementation of process owners and process performance measurement can improve firm performance. The study was conducted with 132 randomly selected manufacturing companies in Austria. For every firm one executive (CEO, CIO or quality manager) was interviewed.

The following items were used to measure to which degree the role of the process owner is established in the organization:

  • Is a process owner assigned to each business process?
  • Are process owners experienced managers/leaders?
  • Are process owners responsible for continuous improvement of their processes and do they perform this task proactively?
  • etc.

The following items were used to measure to which degree measurement of process performance is carried out in the organization:

  • Are performance indicators defined for business processes?
  • Are process performance indicators derived from enterprise goals and/or from (internal) customer requirements?
  • Are improvement actions actually initiated if poor process performance is encountered?
  • etc.

Results of the study:

The contingency table of the process owner role and process performance measurement is illustrated below:

Process Performance Measurement
Low implementation High implementation Total
Process ownership Low implementation 46
(34.8%)
5
(3.8%)
51
(38.6%)
High implementation 34
(25.8%)
47
(35.6%)
81
(61.4%)
Total 80
(60.6%)
52
(39.4%)
132
(100%)

In approx. 35% of the firms, both process performance measurement and process owners are virtually absent. Approx. 26% of the interviewed firms implemented process owners in their organization, but do not or only sparely measure the performance of their business processes. Approx. 4% of the organizations implemented process performance measurement, but have no or only a rudimental implementation of the process owner role. Finally, approx. 36% of the firms have both process performance measurement and process owners in place.

The core finding of the study is that implementing process performance measurement or the process owner role only is insufficient to achieve high performance. Organizations must implement both concepts (process performance measurement and the process owner role) to reap the fruits of process management. This finding is illustrated in the following figure:

processowner_processperformancemeasurement_performance

The left illustration applies for firms with no or rudimentary implementation of process performance measurement. These firms apparently cannot profit from establishing process owners. The right illustration applies for firms which (comprehensively) implemented the concept of process performance measurement. It can be said that those firms benefit from establishing the process owner role in their organization.

In summary, the empirical evidence shows that both concepts – process ownership and process performance measurement – must be present in the organization in order to gain higher organizational
performance.

Survey on Process Management: BPM Office

How many firms do have a so-called BPM office in place which coordinates and integrates process projects? This article discusses this question which was investigated by the process management survey. Survey details (research design, sample, etc.) can be found here.

A business process management office, often also referred to as process office (Fischermanns, 2006) or business process management group (Harmon, 2007), coordinates and integrates process projects in the organization. 46% of the surveyed firms state that they have implemented a BPM office. However, 34% of the firms state that a BPM office doesn’t exist in their organization.

The organization has implemented an instance coordinating and integrating projects dealing with business process management.

The organization has implemented an instance coordinating and integrating projects dealing with business process management.

The item “The organization has implemented an instance coordinating and integrating projects dealing with business process management” was rated by the firms in the sample as follows:

  • 34,00%: Disagree
  • 20,00%: Neither agree nor disagree
  • 46,00%: Agree

Survey on Process Management: People and Expertise

In a process-oriented firm, people who execute the processes need to have appropriate skills and knowledge. Furthermore, knowledge of certain process improvement, process redesign and change management techniques have to be present. This article discusses the results related to people and expertise of the process management survey. Survey details (research design, sample, etc.) can be found here.

Process performers must have appropriate knowledge of how to execute the process, otherwise they won’t be able to implement the process design (Hammer, 2007). Most of the surveyed firms state that their employees only have moderate knowledge about the design of the business process they work for. The item “Employees can describe the design of the business process they work for. They know how their work affects subsequent work, customers and process performance” was rated by the firms in the sample as follows:

  • 13,33%: Disagree
  • 51,33%: Neither agree nor disagree
  • 35,33%: Agree

The item “Our organization’s employees are skilled in problem solving, process improvement and decision-making techniques” was rated by the firms in the sample as follows:

  • 20,67%: Disagree
  • 61,33%: Neither agree nor disagree
  • 18,00%: Agree

According to Hammer (2007), a process organization must have some people skilled in, and with knowledge of, process redesign. The item “An expert cadre is available in the organization including change management, process redesign and project management experts” was rated by the firms in the sample as follows:

  • 42,67%: Disagree
  • 33,33%: Neither agree nor disagree
  • 24,00%: Agree

Improving the performance of business processes requires knowledge about, and usage of, process improvement methodologies.The item “The organization makes use of methodologies for continuous process improvement, like KAIZEN, Six Sigma, etc.” was rated by the firms in the sample as follows:

  • 32,89%: Disagree
  • 29,53%: Neither agree nor disagree
  • 37,58%: Agree
The organization makes use of methodologies for continuous process improvement, like KAIZEN, Six Sigma, etc.

The organization makes use of methodologies for continuous process improvement, like KAIZEN, Six Sigma, etc.

Survey on Process Management: Business Process Management Software

A business process management software is a software tool that facilitates activities such as modeling, analysis and enactment of business processes (Reijers, 2006). This article discusses the results related to business process management software of the process management survey. Survey details (research design, sample, etc.) can be found here.

Most of the surveyed firms state that they do not use any business process management software to support their process management endeavors. The item “The organization is company-wide using a software to support business process management” was rated by the firms in the sample as follows:

  • 65,77%: Disagree
  • 14,09%: Neither agree nor disagree
  • 20,13%: Agree
The organization is company-wide using a software to support business process management.

The organization is company-wide using a software to support business process management.

Corporate Culture in Line with Business Process Orientation and its Impact on Organizational Performance

This article summarizes the study “Kohlbacher M., Gruenwald S. und Kreuzer E.: Corporate Culture in Line with Business Process Orientation and its Impact on Organizational Performance”. The paper was presented at the 6th International Workshop on Business Process Design at the Business Process Management Conference 2010, which took place at Stevens Institute of Technology (New Jersey, USA) in September 2010.

The study focuses on the question whether there is a positive relationship between a culture in line with the process approach and financial performance, delivery speed and delivery reliability. The study uses a sample of 132 Austrian manufacturing firms.

The results of the study show that firms which actually live the process approach outperform other firms in terms of profitability, order-to-delivery speed, and delivery reliability.

Organizations which live the process approach exhibit the following characteristics (amongst others):

  • The organization’s employees can describe the design of the process they work for.
  • The employees know how their work affects subsequent work, customers and process performance.
  • Teamwork between different departments of the organization can be taken for granted.
  • The organization’s employees understand that the purpose of their work is to fulfill the needs of the internal/external customers.

The study has been recently published by Springer (www.springerlink.com).

3rd International Workshop on BPMN

The Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) standard has seen a huge uptake in both, industry and academic research. Its promise of being one language for Business and IT has made it very popular with business analysts, tool vendors, practitioners, and end users. After two successful workshops in Vienna, Austria and Potsdam, Germany, this third workshop brings together practitioners and researchers to share experiences and discuss the latest developments around BPMN. There will be a practitioner session, a scientic session and an exhibition. Topics include:

  • Practical experience with BPMN
  • Empirical research on BPMN
  • BPMN as a modeling language
  • BPMN tools and runtimes
  • BPMN for business analysis
  • BPMN for process execution
  • Future directions of BPMN

The worshop will take place in Lucerne, Switzerland, from November 21-22, 2011. For detailed information, visit the workshop website.

The Components of Business Process Management

This article summarizes the study “Process orientation: Conceptualization and Measurement” by Kohlbacher M. and Gruenwald S., to be published in the Business Process Management Journal in 2011, Volume 17, Issue 2.
The paper empirically explores the “building blocks” (“components”) of business process management. The article first considers the following definitions of business process management:

  • The approach of process orientation emphasizes processes as opposed to hierarchies (McCormack and Johnson, 2001).
  • Process orientation means focusing on business processes ranging from customer to customer instead of placing emphasis on functional structures (Reijers, 2006).
  • Process management capitalizes on improving an organization’s efficiency through high-level coordination of an organization’s activities in a rationalized system of end-to-end processes (Benner and Tushman, 2002).
  • The process management philosophy is a comprehensive problem-solving heuristic that is process-oriented, customer-focused, fact-based, and participative throughout a firm (Winter, 1994).
  • Business process management incorporates the discovery, design, deployment, execution, interaction, control, analysis and optimization of business processes (Smith and Fingar, 2003).

Based on these definitions, the paper builds up a model consisting of different business process management aspects. The final empirical analysis of the model suggests that process management is a concept consisting of seven “building blocks” (“components”):

  1. design and documentation of business processes
  2. management commitment towards process orientation
  3. the process owner role
  4. process performance measurement
  5. a corporate culture in line with the process approach
  6. application of continuous process improvement methodologies, and
  7. process-oriented organizational structure.

At present, many managers are looking for ways to make their organization more process-oriented. The findings of the paper indicate that business process management involves many different aspects, ranging from design and documentation of business processes to process-oriented organizational structure. The developed model in the paper has potential use for an organization to review its internal progress of process-oriented organizational design and has potential use for process assessment, either as an alternative or supplementary measurement of process capability and organizational maturity.

ECIS 2011: The 19th European Conference on Information Systems

The 19th European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS2011) will take place from June 9-11, 2011 in Helsinki, Finland. The conference will be held in the premises of Aalto University School of Economics. The Business Process Management track of the conference will focus topics such as

  • Success factors and measures of BPM
  • BPM adoption models
  • BPM governance
  • Business process innovation
  • Business process outsourcing
  • Process-aware Information Systems
  • Inter-organizational BPM
  • Process performance measurement
  • BPM in different industries
  • Process reference models

For further details, visit the conference website.

Survey on Process Management: Aspects of Corporate Culture

Process orientation is also a matter of enterprise culture. The real problems when implementing the process orientation approach are of a cultural nature (Hinterhuber, 1995). The cultural fit is an important issue since people and processes must combine to produce output (Armistead and Machin, 1997). Only a culture based on teamwork, willingness to change, customer orientation, personal accountability, and a cooperative leadership style goes hand in hand with the process approach (Hammer, 2007). This article discusses the results related to corporate culture of the process management survey. Survey details (research design, sample, etc.) can be found here.

A process-oriented organization needs a culture which values teamwork, since business processes cutting across functions must be operated by people in a team (Hammer, 2007). Most of the surveyed firms state that teamwork is a matter of course in their organization. The item “Teamwork (also between different departments) can be taken for granted in the organization” was rated by the firms in the sample as follows:

  • 6,67%: Disagree
  • 34,67%: Neither agree nor disagree
  • 58,67%: Agree
Teamwork (also between different departments) can be taken for granted in the organization.

Teamwork (also between different departments) can be taken for granted in the organization.

It is often argued that organizations emphasizing functions and hierarchy are failing to focus on the customer (Hinterhuber, 1995; Schmelzer and Sesselmann, 2006; Gulati, 2007). By contrast, in a process-oriented organization, each business process has a clearly defined customer who receives the result of the process (Schantin, 2004). The item “Our organization’s employees understand that the purpose of their work is to fulfill the needs of the internal/external customers” was rated by the firms in the sample as follows:

  • 7,33%: Disagree
  • 44,67%: Neither agree nor disagree
  • 48,00%: Agree
Our organization's employees understand that the purpose of their work is to fulfill the needs of the internal/external customers.

Our organization's employees understand that the purpose of their work is to fulfill the needs of the internal/external customers.

Only organizations whose culture values personal accountability will find it possible to move forward with their degree of process orientation (Hammer, 2007). The item “Our firm’s employees feel accountable for enterprise results” was rated by the firms in the sample as follows:

  • 9,33%: Disagree
  • 62,00%: Neither agree nor disagree
  • 28,67%: Agree
Our firm's employees feel accountable for enterprise results.

Our firm's employees feel accountable for enterprise results.

The lack of a change-supportive culture is often blamed when process improvement actions fail (Tenner and DeToro, 2000). As business conditions change, process designs need to evolve, and it is the task of process owners to guide that evolution (Hammer and Stanton, 1999). A remarkable part of a company’s change-capability is based on its employees (Nyhuis et al., 2008). The item “Changes in the way work is performed are accepted by the employees in a sluggish manner” (note that the item is reverse-coded) was rated by the firms in the sample as follows:

  • 26,67%: Disagree
  • 49,33%: Neither agree nor disagree
  • 24,00%: Agree

Therefore, in most of the surveyed firms, the employees’ willingness to change is on a moderate level.

Changes in the way work is performed are accepted by the employees in a sluggish manner.

Changes in the way work is performed are accepted by the employees in a sluggish manner.

Process orientation is a construct which becomes “real” by communication and interaction, i.e. the construct becomes real if it is communicated by means of a language. By communicating about business processes and their design, process management becomes a reality (Gaitanides, 2007). The item “Employees on all levels of the organization are speaking about business processes, customers, teams, process performance indicators, etc.” was rated by the firms in the sample as follows:

  • 36,00%: Disagree
  • 42,00%: Neither agree nor disagree
  • 22,00%: Agree
Employees on all levels of the organization are speaking about business processes, customers, teams, process performance indicators, etc.

Employees on all levels of the organization are speaking about business processes, customers, teams, process performance indicators, etc.

The need to empower staff is often mentioned by literature on team and process-based organizations (Armistead and Rowland, 1996). Traditional management styles have no place in a process enterprise. Managers can’t command and control but they have to negotiate and collaborate (Hammer and Stanton, 1999). The item “The management’s leadership style is based on hierarchical command and control” (note that the item is reverse-coded) was rated by the firms in the sample as follows:

  • 44,00%: Disagree
  • 34,67%: Neither agree nor disagree
  • 21,33%: Agree
The management's leadership style is based on hierarchical command and control.

The management's leadership style is based on hierarchical command and control.