BPM Education and the Business Process Factory

High PerformancePeter Schooff: Hello this is Peter Schooff, Managing Editor at BPM.com, and today I am pleased to be speaking, once again, with Mathias Kirchmer, one of the founders of BPM-D.

Doctor Kirchmer was the Managing Director in Global Lead of BPM for Accenture, for eight years and before that he was the CEO of IDS Scheer, for the Americas in Japan. Also Dr Kirchmer's book, High Performance Through Business Process Management, is now available, and that's pretty much what we're gonna be discussing on this podcast. So, really excited about talking to you again Mathias so thanks for joining me today.

Mathias Kirchmer: Thank you very much for having me Peter.

Peter Schooff: So, first of all. Where do you see the biggest need for education in BPM, today?

Mathias Kirchmer: Well, I can first say that I'm glad to see that many academic institutions, but also other private industry associations, have taken up BPM and provide courses, and trainings around the topic. That is great to see.

However, if I look a bit closer, I see there is still the big issue that many of those education events around process management, are just focused on different methods and tools. There's a class about process modeling, another around using Six Sigma for process improvement. Or there is a course about work flow systems. So it's all very method and tool focused, but students don't learn enough about how all those things fit together. How do you create value and outcomes using all those methods and tools, combining them in the right way.

So, I believe that there is still a need to position and explain BPM as an integrated management discipline that delivers the appropriate business outcomes for an organization. That outcome orientation, the focus on identifying and resolving the right issues through a combination of tools, methods and approaches, that is what I see still missing in many of those educational programs.

Peter Schooff: Excellent! Well you certainly can't argue against valued driven outcomes.

Now, the subtitle of your book is, Strategy Execution in the Digital World. How would you say this relates directly to BPM then?

Mathias Kirchmer: Great Question. Everybody talks about Digitalization. Let’s take a step bake and define what that is. Basically it consists of four key components. There are: physical products, there are people, there are processes, and all of that is integrated through the internet of things or better the “internet of everything”.

And, the processes play for Digitalization a key role because they make sure, that you get really value out of your technology and people components that you bring together. So I want to stress the point that if you don't have your processes under control, you will not realize the full potential of digitalization efforts. You may not get any value out of it at all. Process and their effective management are a core component of Digitalization

There exists solid research that only 13 percent of organizations meet their yearly strategic goals. One key reason for that is the following: while the overall strategy is company-wide and market driven, the structure of the organization is normally oriented by business functions, like sales or production. The top management is thinking in those functional terms. As a consequence, top executives realize just a part of the strategy, but in total these parts do not fit together to deliver the full strategic goals. Process and process management have by definition an enterprise-wide, integrated view. They have a focus on the customer and market and the delivery of results of value to the customer. Hence, process management helps to move strategy into people and technology-based execution, and that makes it a key component for strategy execution and specifically for strategy execution in a digital world, as we have seen before.

Peter Schooff: Great! I was also really interested to see that your book spoke about a business process factory. Could you elaborate? What exactly is a business process factory?

Mathias Kirchmer: That is very closely related to the digitalization aspect. You know, basically every company who does anything with processes, creates somehow a process artifact, call them "process models" or "process maps", whatever. But that work on your processes, that work on making processes visible and tangible, is often done more in an artsy and craftsmanship way. You sit together, you do interviews then you draw and design those models and figure out how things fit together. But this approach is too slow for the digital world, too inefficient.

Even if you use modelling tools without adjusting your overall approach, this will not change much. In our digital world, we need a process modeling and repository approach that is very fast, very agile, that can work on process instances not just on key process types that stay the same course over a long.

It's very, very key to change the way how we produce and work with process models. With the term “process factory”, I refer to an industrialized approach to create and use process models to achieve significant impact. You use your process repository to create a warehouse of “process components” that you can assemble as required – much faster than inventing everything from scratch. In many cases, you even assemble new process models “on demand”, as required e.g. by a specific order type. A efficient use of the resulting models is ensured through the definition of appropriate “usage scenarios” that define how to use those models in a specific context, for example as content for training, as basis for process improvement and transformation, or for the roll-out of software and other technology systems. It is no more guessing how to use the different process artefacts but their use is defined in an “industrial process”.

Peter Schooff