From the Editors
Business Process Management (BPM) has been evolving for over 25 years in information systems research, management science, and organizational practice (Vom Brocke & Mendling, 2018). The earliest characteristics of BPM concentrated around process analysis, improvement and control, in a less strict manner that required reengineering (Elzinga, Horak, Lee, & Bruner, 1995). More mature approaches, observed since the year 2000, have been promoting the so-called process thinking, i.e. managing an organization from a process-based point of view. These approaches emphasize that process and team work oriented organizational structures should be aligned with other management systems. Process management should be holistic by its nature so as to cover an entire organization.
Although BPM researchers stressed the need for system thinking at that time, published literature distinguished two perspectives of looking at BPM: the organizational perspective and the technological perspective of BPM. From the organizational perspective, authors focused on a number of key factors, i.e., process governance, a process-based organizational structure concept, customer orientation of internal and external processes, managing an organization based on process outputs, building process relations, and improving process maturity throughout the customer value chain, as well as through strategically aligning process initiatives to organizational objectives. From the technological perspective, the key factors of interest to authors, referred to as BPMS (Business Process Management System), include IT methods, techniques and tools that support the designing, implementation, modeling and simulation of business processes and are considered to be an extension of classical workflow systems or an environment for designing management support IT systems, e.g. ERP class systems.
An integrated and interdisciplinary approach was proposed in the framework of six core BPM elements required for the holistic and sustainable use of process management (Rosemann & Vom Brocke, 2010). These include strategic alignment, governance, methods, information technology, people and culture. In this sense, technology is only one of six closely interrelated elements.
Currently, there are two distinct directions in the evolution of BPM: traditional BPM and digital BPM. The former encompasses methods, techniques and systems that traditionally lead to increased organizational efficiency and to improved process effectiveness and flexibility. Although studies on BPM have been continuously evolving, some research gaps still remain open. The traditional understanding of process management seems particularly vital to organizations in developing economies, which sometimes follow practices and models that were designed and tested in highly developed countries, but should also be committed to drawing on their own experience and understanding of their local business environment (Gabryelczyk & Roztocki, 2018). Research on BPM in this traditional focus is still needed to better document, implement and improve idiosyncratic business processes in the context of an organization, environment, culture, and country. This is also confirmed by research conducted under the JEMI Special Issue on Business Process Management.
Besides the traditionally shaped approach to BPM, organizations increasingly treat BPM as a driver of organizational innovation and as an essential part of the digital transformation (Vom Brocke & Schmiedel, 2015). New digital technologies such as social media, digital platforms, big data and advanced data analytics, blockchains, robotics, etc., enable development and growth in a constantly changing environment. To take advantage of these opportunities in the digital world, organizations require new BPM competences and capabilities. However, digital disruption creates quite a challenge for the BPM research community. How can BPM capabilities be developed in order to achieve adaptability, growth, flexibility, and agility? How can BPM foster innovations within and throughout organizations? These are just some of the issues for future BPM-related research. Threads associated with employing BPM for digital transformation have been included in a proposed Special Issue on BPM.
This Special Issue on BPM consists of six articles including contributions from invited authors from three transition economies: Croatia, Slovakia, and Poland. All of the papers focus on applications of the process approach to management or directly to the adoption of Business Process Management. The majority of articles relate to the traditional BPM thread, although the indicated BPM alliances with other concepts such as Knowledge Management, Change Management, and Project Management are worthy of note. Only one article addresses the topic of BPM in the context of digital transformation. The nature and structure of these articles may be indicative of the current motivational factors and process maturity levels of organizations adopting ordinary and/or advanced BPM practices. When analyzing the content of individual articles, we pay attention to the factors underlying BPM adoption. We understand the primary motivation to be the expected benefits from BPM. Therefore, we can assume this Special Issue to be a contribution to BPM development in the form of the indicating motivation and triggers for BPM adoption.
The first paper, by Jerzy Auksztol and Magdalena Chomuszko, proposes a process-based approach to construct a Data Control Framework for Standard Audit File for Tax (SAF-T). The process approach is used to redesign the internal financial control processes and procedures of an organization to meet the new requirements of a fiscal audit. The process approach, combined with risk management and quality management, is, therefore, a tool supporting entrepreneurs adapting to new regulations imposed on them by their external environment, particularly those of tax authorities. Therefore, in this case, the main motivation for adopting elements of BPM was the impact of external environment factors.
The paper by Ana-Marija Stjepić, Lucija Ivančić, and Dalia Suša Vugec focuses on the link between Business Process Management and digital transformation. The authors have developed a theoretical framework for the emerging role of BPM in digitalization and as a guide for researchers and practitioners conducting digital transformation initiatives in organizations. The results obtained in the article prove that the set goals and expected benefits of digital transformation can be achieved by a rethink and improvement of the processes, with a particular focus on end-to-end customer processes through supply chain management. Based on this article, we can conclude that one of the main motivational factors for BPM adoption is a desire to obtain the benefits of digital transformation.
The article written by Miroslava Nyulásziová and Dana Paľová takes up the issues of using and linking the process approach and BPM lifecycle with the designing of decision support systems. The authors of this paper have developed an innovative system for decision support by implementing modeling, analysis, and improvement methods to the transportation process in the studied organization. The forwarding company’s case study presented in the paper also shows how BPM adoption began with a single main process that has been streamlined and automated. Therefore, the motivations for BPM adoption were not only operational, relating to the optimization of the cost of the process, but also managerial, oriented on improving the decision-making process. The use of information technology allowed the full exploitation of the potential for process improvements.
The next paper by Olga Sobolewska is about incorporating the issues of BPM into the contemporary challenges of network organizations. The author claims that the organization’s orientation towards both business processes and knowledge management is a strong success factor for network cooperation. The author argues that modern organizations should focus on managing knowledge-oriented processes to become attractive to cooperation partners for network organizations. In this article, BPM adoption is of a strategic nature for the purposes of undertaking new forms of cooperation.
The paper by Hubert Bogumił has an interdisciplinary character and, in a unique way, shows the connections between the concepts of process management, organizational change management, and IT project management. The author undertook the challenge of examining how problems for organizations managing IT projects facilitate in different ways the use of distinctive approaches to improve business processes. The author emphasizes that the main difficulty is the fact that modern organizations most often use a hybrid approach, with elements of both traditional project management and agile. The need to create a work environment that takes into account the risk of unexpected system and business regression, as well as a diagnosis of the causes and methods of its mitigation, is the initial research result in this paper. This article contributes to the development of BPM governance and integration of IT governance. The motivational factors for BPM are multi-faceted, as is the scope of the article. However, their managerial and cultural character (related to methods of communication and rules of cooperation in teams) should be emphasized.
The article by Agnieszka Bitkowska concerns the integration of the concept of Knowledge Management and BPM. The author restates in her article that the identification, acquisition, presentation and documentation of knowledge are not independent tasks, but are implemented within business processes. In this paper, the correlations between BPM and Knowledge Management have been examined and the benefits and practical implications resulting from the integrated implementation of both concepts are emphasized. In the case of this article, BPM adoption can be a success factor for the implementation of Knowledge Management and the achievement of associated benefits.
Studying Business Process Management from the different angles presented in this Special Issue should enrich our understanding of current BPM practices and better realize future challenges, especially those related to BPM development in the context of digital transformation and the integration of BPM with other management-related concepts. In addition, the contribution made by the authors of this Special Issue allowed us to see various motivations and triggers for BPM adoption, from operational, to managerial, strategic, cultural and technological ones, and those driven by the external environment.
We would like to thank the authors for their contribution to this Special Issue. We would also like to thank all the reviewers for their valuable comments, which helped the authors improve their articles significantly. We are firmly convinced that the BPM research results presented in this Special Issue will help strengthen the existing body of BPM knowledge. We recommend reading the related issue of the JEMI journal to the wider community of BPM researchers, practitioners, and enthusiasts.
Renata GabryelczykTomislav Hernaus
The editorial work on this Special Issue was supported by the Polish National Science Centre, Poland, Grant No. 2017/27/B/HS4/01734.
Elzinga, D. J., Horak, T., Lee, C.-Y., & Bruner, C. (1995). Business process management: Survey and methodology. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, 42(2), 119-128. http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/17.387274
Gabryelczyk, R., & Roztocki, N. (2018). Business process management success framework for transition economies. Information Systems Management, 35(3), 234-253. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10580530.2018.1477299
Rosemann, M., & Vom Brocke, J. (2010). The six core elements of business process management. In Handbook on Business Process Management 1. Cham: Springer.
Vom Brocke, J., & Mendling, J. (Eds.). (2018). Business Process Management Cases. Digital Innovation and Business Transformation in Practice. Berlin: Springer.
Vom Brocke, J., & Schmiedel, T. (Eds.). (2015). BPM-Driving Innovation in a Digital World. Cham: Springer.
Renata Gabryelczyk is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw, Poland. She is also a Visiting Professor at the Warsaw School of Information Technology (WIT) under the auspices of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Her academic experience includes involvement in research projects at the Polish National Science Center, and research fellowships at universities in Saarbrücken, Heidelberg, Constance, and Ulm, Germany, and Vienna, Austria. Her research interests include business process management, performance management, facility management, and applications of ICTs in management. She is the author and co-author of four monographs and numerous scientific papers. She is a member of the program board of the Polish Certificate of BPMN at the Polish Academy of Sciences and a member of the Technical Committee for Facility Management of the Polish Committee for Standardization.
Tomislav Hernaus is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Economics and Business (University of Zagreb, Croatia) and a Visiting Professor at the School of Economics and Business (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia). He holds a Certificate in Organization Design received from the Center for Effective Organizations, Los Angeles. His multi-level research interests include organization design, business process management, HR organization, work design and job interventions, innovative work behavior, and knowledge hiding. He has co-authored four books and a dozen book chapters. His scholarly work has been published in refereed journals such as the Human Resource Management Journal, Journal of Knowledge Management, Employee Relations, Expert Systems with Applications, Journal of Managerial Psychology and Business Process Management Journal. He serves as a co-editor of the Dynamic Relationships Management Journal, is an editorial board member of European Management Journal and Baltic Journal of Management, and currently has the position of the AOM-HR Division ambassador for Croatia.