Business Process Management beyond Boundaries? – A Multiple Case Study Exploration of Obstacles to Collaborative BPM
Presented at HICSS2011 this research paper by Niehaves and Henser takes a close look at the importance of business process collaboration external to the firm, and the obstacles which must be overcome for this to be successful. Through a qualitative analysis of three different organisations they seek to answer their research question of “What are potential obstacles that may restrain organizations from expanding their BPM from an endocollaborative to an omnicollaborative state?”.
To further define the term “collaboration” the authors introduce three theoretical degrees of BPM centric collaboration:
- Non-collaborative BPM characterised by individual uncoordinated attempts at business process activities.
- Endocollaborative BPM – BPM activities undertaken wholly within a department or organisation.
- Omnicollaborative BPM involving stakeholders both internal and external to the organisation.
The authors have used these definitions as a base in their investigation into the obstacles to communication between internal and external process stakeholders. Interestingly they also acknowledge the impact of ISO9001 certification upon an organisation’s BPM initiative (refer Benner, M. J. “Dynamic or Static Capabilities? Process Management Practices and Response to Technological Change.” Journal of Production Innovation Management (26:4), pp. 473-486.)
The case study data collection involved a triangulation of interviews, observations and documented evidence to answer the above research question. Based on this evidence the paper proposes nine blockers to omnicollaborative BPM:
- Resource requirements
- Knowledge safeguarding
- Benefit expectations
- Knowledge about process
- Knowledge about Partners
- External impressions
- Firm-Internal acceptance
- Decision Power Control
- Decision promptness
This recent McKinsey Quarterly article “How social technologies are extending the organisation” runs in parallel with my own PhD research into the practicalities of social business processes.
The presented results of McKinsey’s fifth survey indicate the continued adoption of social media applications, with many organisations of the belief that this technology could spawn new and radically improved business processes. I am of the same belief that by leveraging off the internal & external community of practice, real benefits can be gained from the insights of others. Further, using social technology to engage with current & potential consumers, based upon what we term “consumer-events” (see my other research), allows an organisation to proactively engage and potentially customise their customer facing business processes.
The Authors report that more than 40% of Executives surveyed (of a total of 4200), state that social technologies are being used across their organisations and increasingly to engage with external customers, partners and suppliers. It is my belief that this is where the real benefits will be gained, through true collaboration and targeted requirements gathering from known and unknown process consumers & stakeholders. From this report though it is evident that organisational maturity is also key to the success of social technology adoption, perhaps due to functional capability?
Some interesting statistics are presented which appear to fluctuate year on year and I believe reflect the changing nature of social technology as well as our personal and professional interaction with this medium. Further evidence that social technology does not provide the magical silver bullet to organisational success, but is merely an effective tool in the bag of organisational capabilities. For me a key takeout from this paper is that “Senior executives should think strategically about how social technologies can support business processes by helping organizations to navigate the external environment and to forge stronger links with customers and vendors.”