Is Business Process Management Relevant?
Updated: Apr 29
What got me writing this edition is the question raised in the title “Is Business Process Management relevant?” by a work colleague of mine.
He related to the topic of Business Process Management as a lot of lip in Corporates without seriously interfering with “Business as Usual”. I have worked with Customers globally in 16 Verticals on Business Process Reengineering & Innovation and to a large extent I had to agree with that perspective. And that is Point of Arrival (POA).
Creation to Consumption
Digital presents an opportunity to Connect from Creation to Consumption with Data and Intelligence; where the former is the Creation and the latter is the computing that ensues in a process and is consumed as an output. The Mechanisms are the roles that execute a process with the constraint or conditions of Logic (Innovation / Competition) and Rules (Algorithms) that manifest as Principles, Policies and Procedures.
Digital has the Power of Unifying the Creation to Consumption straight through fusing Data, Talent, Materials, Capital and Infrastructure with Transparent Traceability. Where each of them have their own Journey before they become useful for the Optimal Orchestration of the Process.
As we go further, it is necessary to agree on common definitions for Business Processes to arrive at the references that have changed considerably since the segway into Digital.
There are two fundamental reasons for understanding Processes differently:
They are not mundane repetition of task and transactions hardcoded and sometimes automated as in the past or present. They are the dynamic pathways that seamlessly deliver to emerging Aspirations and not just Static Expectations of Customers.
Unlike the past, there are no core and support systems. All systems operate through Intelligence that is contextually connected. Unlike the past where IT was a supporting enabler, technology is the mechanism to connect the Creation to Consumption in any industry or sphere of life.
This demands visiting the basic definitions of a Process to see if the modern interpretation reflects the relevance.
What is a Process?
A set of related activities that has a Customer Outcome.
Who is a Customer?
An economic definition of a Customer is anyone who contributes Revenue in exchange for Value delivered through Products / Services. The reason why the definition of a Customer goes beyond the conventional is because the other 7 examples listed below all contribute to the Creation of Value. Where the Perception of Value can be measured in the five dimensions of:
Quality: Delivering it right the first time to the Aspirations of People.
Cost: Affordability and Usefulness for the Targeted Segment / Cohort.
Delivery (Time): Availability at the right time in one’s Personal Life Cycle.
Service (Empathy): Support with dignity to availing the Product/ Service.
Flexibility: Access to the Product / Service On-Demand.
Examples of Customer
In the modern process context, Customers are Roles that execute work in a Process; whether humans or Machines / Technology. And they are called Customers because the Economic definition of a Customer is one who Pays or generates Value. In the digital world, Innovation does not happen in labs or Controlled conditions but rather in real time.
Client: Who receives Products / Services and Consumes it. For a Manufacturer the Customer is the Retailer as well as the Consumer who buys the Products / Services at the Point of Sale (POS).
Team Members / Associates: Who Create the Products and Services as Intellectual Property (IP); continuously Innovating on both Mind 2 Market (Invention to Innovation) and Time 2 Market (Innovation to Improvisation).
Stakeholders: Who have a stake in the outcomes of the process. For example the Executive Board of a Corporation.
Business Partners: Who enable the serving of the process to its potential completeness.
Vendors: Who provide the Resources, Materials and Energy to be consumed in the process of Creation to Consumption.
Society: Who regulate and condition how business functions in their geography.
Technology: Who generate data through Devices, IOT, Wearables, Sensors and Scanners as inputs into the process.
Shareholders: Who make financial capital available for the right Value.
A Process Value can be observed from the following five dimensions to check its authenticity:
Process Accessibility: When Aspirations of the Customers are addressed, there is an unwritten rule for Diversity, Equity & Inclusivity. This checks the first element of a Process Value.
Process Completeness: When all the Roles are addressed with Data Autonomy to participate and grow continuously, a process is deemed complete and therefore checks the second element of Value.
Process Context: When all the roles are connected and execute to a context, the process checks the third element of Value.
Process Metrics: When such a Process is executed to the five dimensions of Quality, Cost, Delivery (Time), Service (Empathy) and Flexibility (On-Demand), the fourth element of Value is checked.
Process Fidelity: The Value of a Process is realized when it operates as a solution at the ecosystem level and is delivers to an application at a Task and Transaction level. Thus checking the fifth and most important value of bridging the Intent with Action.
Transformation & Innovation must be seen as core to an enterprise and not projects. This is not reflected in all the investments that corporates and others make still harking back to the times when the ERP or CRM projects were considered strategic projects to an enterprise. There are no Commercially Off The Shelf (COTS) Products that can fulfill the growth aspirations of an enterprise. And therefore, the key for each enterprise investing in developing systems must be to first Engineer Solutions that take the shape of Engines, Components and Connectors. The Solutions must determine how to use and ease out legacy; transitioning from an Information Processing to an Intelligent Computing environment. Patching Machine Learning / Artificial and / or Generative Intelligence to legacy data will yield no strategic results.
Every organization, no matter whether it is a Fortune Rated or Startup, must focus on its business processes.
It is at the Ecosystem Level where Transformation & Innovation happens. This must be at the Core of Design Learning that responds to Functional Value.
Design must derive from Design Learning the Applications that will Unify the ecosystem responding to Lifetime Value.
Architecture must plumb the disparate elements of a Solution responding to the Brand Value that generates Trust.
Processes must fulfill Customer Aspirations responding to the Emotional Value.
Technology Development must become a core to its Transformation first from how it shapes its Workforce and Workplaces to deliver to the demands of an On-Demand Customer through a mutually serving Operations and Innovation delivering Economic Value.