Process innovation drives business innovation
Does traditional business process management (BPM) play a role in today's fast-moving world, where innovation is key to survival?
Yes and no, says Dr Mathias Kirchmer, co-CEO of global BPM consulting firm, BPM-D, and author of the best-selling book, 'High Performance through Business Process Management'.
Process does not kill innovation
The premise of Kirchmer's book is that common concerns that process kills innovation are groundless. True innovation, he says, would be impossible without the disciplines involved in conventional BPM.
He attributes concerns about BPM to misconceptions around precisely what process is, including a flawed a belief that process is purely transactional and doesn't require creativity.
He points out that many of the new, successful and highly innovative and disruptive companies that have come to the fore over the past 10 to 15 years, have been founded not on technology innovation, but almost entirely on process innovation.
"Amazon, for example, didn't invent books; they invented a new process for selling them. eBay didn't invent the auction but introduced a new process for auction sales. Uber didn't invent a driving service but a new process for delivering that service to consumers. These, and many other examples across all industries, clearly indicate that process innovation is at the heart of the innovation movement," he explains.
Business process factory
"However, in order to create such innovative processes and place them at the core of new business models, you need to control the processes properly. And to do that, you need functioning business process management disciplines that allow you to systematically define and establish these new and innovative processes. As a result, BPM, through the discipline of process innovation, has become one of the drivers of business innovation."
That does not mean that it's BPM as usual in a world driven by process innovation. Kirchmer acknowledges that the traditional (read: manual) BPM way of having all those involved in a process sit together and come up with a process model or map, simply won't cut it in today's fast-paced environment. Even using process modelling and repository tools won't help much, as this is nothing more than a tweaking of the old approach.
The trick, therefore, is to find ways to deliver these traditional BPM disciplines far more rapidly than ever before. Kirchmer believes that a "business process factory", which is effectively business-process-on-demand, provides a solution.
A business process factory is an industrial approach to the creation and utilisation of process models.
Effectively, you create a process warehouse in which process components are stored. These can then be linked together to create new processes extremely rapidly. In some instances, there could be systematic processes and procedures to guide you on how to use those models in a specific context, such as leveraging process content for training, or for the rollout of software or other technology systems.
So, instead of having to start from scratch for each process, this industrial approach to process modelling allows for the use and re-use of process components that have proved themselves in the work environment.