Cultural Fitness for Business Process Management: What is it and what is it worth?

By Theresa Schmiedel, Jan vom Brocke & Jan Recker

While business process management (BPM) is often associated with large investments in IT systems and process analysis projects, the success of BPM initiatives largely depends on the cultural readiness of organizations for process management. In this article, we introduce a model that helps to understand the role of culture in managing business processes and to take the right investments into the development of organizational culture. For that purpose, we also describe an assessment tool that allows examining the supportiveness of an organizational culture for BPM initiatives. We show how the results of such an assessment help organizations to determine in which areas of a corporation investments in cultural change can be most beneficial.

All processes are modeled, all process metrics defined, all process support systems are set up; yet still, processes are not running smoothly and departmental silos are more present than ever. Both practitioners and academics tell the same story. “A successful business process management (BPM) implementation goes beyond investing in the right systems.” In fact, an important success factor for BPM is investing in the establishment of the right organizational culture, that is, a culture that supports the achievement and maintenance of efficient and effective business processes.

While research and practice used to focus on technological and methodological aspects of BPM, there is a growing awareness that BPM requires a more holistic understanding. In recent years, a broad range of studies have presented a comprehensive grasp of BPM, one of the most prominent examples being the BPM maturity model of Rosemann and de Bruin, which identifies – apart from methods and IT – strategic alignment, governance, people, and culture as core factors for BPM1. Especially, culture is more and more recognized as a highly relevant factor in BPM.

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