Are we looking at the right tools?

by Laila Stancioff, previously published in BPTrends

Business Process Management is widely spread in the world but still has a long way to go. It has been implemented in the last years in various companies in different continents, reaching different levels of Maturity.

However, despite all efforts in using the right systems and tools, the methodologies used, and the changes in strategic plans to make them more aligned with the company’s processes, we are still not there. People are still not convinced of the importance of Process Management. The teams still do not collaborate within the processes unless they are pushed to do it. What are we getting wrong?

The evolution in BPM has been measured systematically through state of the business surveys. We already have years of data covering different continentes. What do these reports tell us?

The BPTrends’ research  “The State of the BPM Market”, made in 2014, points out that “most organizations are at level 2 on the CMM maturity scale” [1]. One of the conclusions of the research was that “there has been little development in the market, as a whole. Individual companies may have become more process-oriented, invested in BPMS or created a business process architecture, but most companies have not. The state of BPM, as we defined it in 2005 is roughly the same today.” [1]. The conclusion is not different in the 2015 survey: “We have asked the same questions for a decade now and gotten the same answers. The respondents have changed, have grown and declined, included more business people and then more IT people, and through it all the answers to our questions remain the same. They experienced a small change in 2011, but returned to the “standard pattern” in 2013 and remain the same in 2015.

Most respondents think that BPM is about managing process change throughout the business. They don’t think it simply refers to a new software technology. Most organizations are at Level 2 on the CMMI maturity scale. They have invested in defining their processes, but have not invested in aligning processes throughout the enterprise.” [2]. The 2020 report’s Executive summary talks a lot about technology, and mentions how enthusiasm is necessary to motivate people to work on Process-related initiatives, otherwise they look for something more trendy [3].

When I look at the reports, I see a lot of interesting questions being answered, but also a lot missing. As a reference, the BPM 6×5 model [4] details 6 areas of development for any company to grow in Maturity in BPM (see picture below). A company can only go to a next level if it evolves in all of these areas.

I don’t see all the six areas receiving the same level of attention on the state of the industry surveys I have seen. For example, in 2013 [1], the companies are questioned about the results observed in:

● Documentation of tacit knowledge,
● Process standardization,
● Increase of process efficiency,
● Increase of quality of products and services in view of increase of customer satisfaction,
● Improvement of monitoring structure and of operational visibility for decision making,
● Implementation of strategy through transformation of key-processes,
● Increase of employees’ satisfaction and development of organizational climate,
● Support to specific event (merge, acquisition, out-sourcing).

We have been tracking elements of Strategic Alignment, Governance, Technologies and Methodologies used, but little attention has been given to the “People” and “Culture” areas. I am not saying we are not doing anything in these areas, but we are not looking at it in the “BPM world”. This means we are also not identifying and sharing best practices. What is
being done around the world to increase the team’s knowledge in process management? How do we turn understanding of the benefits into actual attitude, and readiness to lead in process-related initiatives? What are we doing so that the leaders see process management not as an extra burden, but as a tool to improve their work and the team’s work?
I suggest we add another section to each one of these reports to look at people.

We could look at what roles each company has in the process governance and how do people react to them. We could dig into how new employees are onboarded in each company and what kind of material is given as reference during the training. We could try to find out how many companies have Super User Networks [5], how do they support the teams, and how much did they decrease Helpdesk issues by providing better training.

We could discover what actually motivates people to refer to the procedures when solving a conflict.
We have put a lot of tools in place to support the processes and make them more effective.

Let’s start focusing on the tools we put in place to support the people who are executing the process.

1. Harmon, P. & Wolf, C., 2014. The State of the BPM Market – 2014, BPTrends.
2. Harmon, P. & Wolf, C., 2016. The State of Business Process Management 2016.
3. Harmon, P. & Garcis, J. The State of Business Process Management 2020.
4. Rizoto-Vidala-Pesoa, L. M. The Super User role as a tool to progress in maturity in Business Process Management – a study case of Cabot Latvia. Master thesis, University of Latvia, 2017.
5. Rizoto-Vidala-Pesoa, L. M. The Super User Role: An Extended Concept, 2018,

Laila Stancioff, Process-U Executive Director

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