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Archive of posts tagged process documentation

Process Management in Service Organizations VS. Manufacturing Companies

How is process management applied in service organizations? Do service providers apply process management practices differently to manufacturers? Does firm size play a role? The brand new paper “Process Management Practices: Organizational (Dis-)Similarities” by D. Weitlaner and M. Kohlbacher, published in the The Service Industries Journal a few days ago, addresses these questions. The study empirically explores the adoption of BPM practices contingent upon different industry affiliations and firm sizes. The summarized findings are as follows:

Process management in service organizations vs. manufacturing companies:
The findings indicate that manufacturers are more process-oriented than service providers. In particular, manufacturing companies are more likely to apply continuous process improvement methods, to have a stronger management commitment toward process orientation, to have process owners on site, and to perform process performance measurement. In particular, the greatest difference between service providers and manufacturers is found in the process performance measurement practice. No significant difference is found in the context of process-supportive corporate culture as well as process documentation.

Process management in small vs. large organizations:
Large companies are more process-oriented than small ones. More specifically, they are more likely to apply continuous process improvement methods, to have a stronger management commitment toward the process view, to have implemented the process owner role, to measure process performance, and to exhibit a higher level of process documentation. However, process-supportive corporate culture seems to be independent from firm size.

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.

Survey on Process Management: Definition and Documentation of Business Processes

This article discusses the issue “documentation of business processes” of the process management survey. Details on the survey (research design, sample, etc.) can be found here.

Most firms have defined a complete and uniform enterprise process model. The item “Our firm has developed a complete and uniform enterprise process model illustrating the business processes of the organization” was rated by the firms in the sample as follows:

  • 22,00%: Disagree
  • 16,67%: Neither agree nor disagree
  • 61,33%: Agree

Most firms document the design of their business processes (and keep the documentation up-to-date). The statement “The business processes of our firm are documented in a sufficiently detailed way” was rated by the firms in the sample as follows:

  • 15,33%: Disagree
  • 29,33%: Neither agree nor disagree
  • 55,33%: Agree

The statement “Process documentation is always timely updated after process design has changed” was rated by the firms in the sample as follows:

  • 18,00%: Disagree
  • 28,00%: Neither agree nor disagree
  • 54,00%: Agree

Most firms have defined inputs, outputs, customers and suppliers of their business processes. The statement “Inputs and outputs of our firm’s processes are clearly defined” was rated by the firms in the sample as follows:

  • 16,67%: Disagree
  • 36,67%: Neither agree nor disagree
  • 46,67%: Agree

The statement “The internal/external customers as well as the internal/external suppliers of our organization’s processes are clearly defined” was rated by the firms in the sample as follows:

  • 13,51%: Disagree
  • 37,16%: Neither agree nor disagree
  • 49,32%: Agree

The Characteristics of Process Orientation. Part 1: Design and Documentation of Business Processes

Business processes present a difficult challenge in identification and analysis since they are often unknown quantities, have no names, and are not visualized in organizational charts (Kiraka and Manning, 2005). A prerequisite for managing an organization based on its processes is to know which business processes are performed within the organization and how they are related to each other. A precise definition of the company’s business processes is the starting point for process management (Hinterhuber, 1995).

Design of a complete and uniform enterprise process model. The enterprise process model, which is also sometimes referred to as “macro design” (Suter, 2004), “macro model” (Schantin, 2004), or “macro enterprise process map” (Gardner, 2004), gives an overview of the organization’s business processes.

Documentation of processes. Business processes need to be specified in terms of how they are to be executed (Hammer, 2007).

Update of process documentation. Without a timely update of the documentation after a change of the process design, people will soon discontinue to use the documentation, making the documentation of business processes largely useless.

Definition of inputs and outputs for each process. Since processes can be defined as collections of tasks and activities that transform inputs into outputs, the specification of a business process needs to include a definition of these inputs and outputs (Walter, 2009; Schantin, 2004).

Definition of suppliers and customers for each process. A primary characteristic of a process is that it is initiated by and that it must provide results for a customer (Davenport and Short, 1990; Childe et al., 1994).

Main Characteristics of a Process-Oriented Organization

According to (Hammer, 2007; Harmon, 2007; Hinterhuber, 1995; Melan, 1989; Reijers, 2006), an organization which has adopted the process-view exhibits the following characteristics:

First, a prerequisite for managing an organization based on its processes is to know which business processes are performed within the organization and how they are related to each other. Hence, a process-oriented firm explicitly designs and documents its business processes.

Second, management needs to support the process program. Without the support of senior executives, the process idea cannot unfold its full potential.

Third, the existence of process owners is the most visible difference between a process enterprise and a traditional organization. A business process needs to have a manager who has end to end responsibility of the process.

Fourth, a process-oriented organization comprehensively applies the concept of process performance measurement. By focusing measurement on processes rather than functions, alignment and common focus across separate organizational units can be achieved. Implementing measures and taking corrective actions are operating precepts of process management.

Finally, there are other characteristics a process-oriented organization exhibits, including a process-oriented corporate culture (e.g. teamwork, readiness to change, and customer focus), IT systems which seamlessly support business processes, a process-oriented organizational structure, people and expertise (e.g. existence of process redesign and change management experts), process-oriented HR systems (e.g. existence of an incentive system emphasizing the process’ needs) and the existence of a BPM office coordinating and integrating process projects.

Further information on the characteristics of process orientation can be found in this blog post: The Components of Business Process Management.

Information on which process management components are important for improving firm performance can be found here: The Effects of Process-Oriented Organizational Design on Firm Performance.