About Business Process Management and Research That Studies It

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“Business process management is a management approach focused on aligning all aspects of an organization with the wants and needs of clients” (Velde, Neil, Paulus, and Wilhelmus, 2004, pp. 22). This kind of approach to business allows companies higher levels of efficiency and productivity (Luca, 2009). Technology is a big part of the process, allowing effectiveness and proper utilization of innovations. Business process management has enabled many businesses to achieve continuity in their functionalities (Lancaster, 2008). It is a business approach that has been proven to improve an organization’s time management, quality assurance, and customer satisfaction (Zhang, 2003).

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In their paper, Smart, Maddern, and Maull present the research factor in the business process management (BPM) theory. They explain the application components of the theory, perform an assessment of the model in various financial services companies, and case-based research in one of the companies. Their research reveals that both application and conceptual components of the BPM theory are important and research forms a very big part of completing both of them (Maylor and Kathryn, 2003). The article emphasizes the need to have a fundamental mindset for the various research management processes in any institution.

The research project is conducted in three different phases. The first phase is centered on understanding BPM thinking. Different models, concepts, and approaches in the study have been synthesized into different themes (Smart, Maddern, and Maull, 2008). The research question is aimed at understanding how the five themes bring out the BPM concept. The second phase of the paper is aimed at giving an insight into how the BPM model was held in the 15 different financial services companies that were studied. Phase three is a case study, which allows the research to ask the business to ask more why and how questions. “Case-based methods are widely recognized as an effective means for unpacking complex concepts en route to the development of explanatory theory” (Neergaard, 2006, pp. 34).

The case study in this research paper was a UK bank, which had gone through various mergers in the 1990s. Data for the paper was collected through interviews and the use of past literature on the organization. The interviews were conducted with experts in different processes including research and products development managers. The interviews were focused on two major areas; the development of different processes and understanding the relevance of the different processes. “The secret to having productive interviews is to encourage the interviewees to drive the discussion and consequently, responses vary in form and sequences, allowing more comprehensive information” (Tharenou, Ross, and Brian, 2007). The technique was used in this article, allowing better responses and more detailed information.

To support the data collection process, there were other forms of secondary data collected and analyzed. “Secondary data collection includes project documentation, central and local processes communications and minutes” (Taylor and Robert, 2000, pp. 3). All these were used in the paper to identify the most significant themes of the organization being studied. The literature survey focuses on explaining how business processes are organized. It is clear from the different types of literature studied that today, it is hard to find a business that does not take information management seriously (Middlesex University, 2011).

One of the processes studied in this article is business and management research and how it affects different business operations. One of the most successful and important business processes is business and management research, which has proved very essential if any business, wants to understand their markets and clientele (Meyers, 2009). From the literature review conducted on the paper, it is clear that many organizations are paying very close attention to the management of business processes including research (Masdonati, 2007).

Operations management research is significantly mentioned and emphasized in the paper. Its role in business process management is as important as that of other major tools (Ghauru and Kjell, 2002). The paper discusses it as being key to the process strategy and an important tool when trying to identify the important themes of any business process project. The paper puts emphasis on organized operations research structures. It is clear from previous studies that many companies still face challenges when trying to implement operations research, a good reason why business process management is still a slow process (Gartnernand Birley, 2002).

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Of critical importance is the influence of technology in process management and its implementation (Bryman and Emma, 2007). “Technology influences management and workforce in organizations by analyzing production, resource impact, routine to non-routine operations, structure impact, industry impact and work impact as well” (Schwalbe, 2010). It allows the managers together with the workforce match the resources available with technology through different approaches. The management is able to run operations more easily by changing techniques and processes to better and modern ones (Brunel University, 2010). Technology also reflects what is made meaning management has to access and adopt the best technology to make the best. It motivates knowledge since it has to match the technology used (Dawson, 2002). This way, the implementation of business process management becomes easier.

Since businesses and their tools are all about the customer, information technology plays an important role in their operations (Department of Veterans Affairs, 2009). It supports and enables businesses to operate more effectively, minimize their waste and operate with minimum inventories(Cortina, 2009). Businesses are also able to utilize modern technology to employ the best business process management talent there is in the industry (Cooper and Schindler, 2008). Testing and quality technologies allow them to correct defects on time and achieve continuous improvement, an important tool of business process management (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, 2002).

The article’s strengths include the use of case research, “which gives the paper the ability to ask the why questions rather than just the how and why questions” (Sekeran, 2003). The use of case research also gives the paper the ability to help its audience understand hidden or complex variables (Marschan and Catherine, 2004). The research has a few weaknesses as well. It uses a very complex organization, making it hard to collect specific data and analyze it comprehensively. The UK bank used for the study has a number of subsidiaries that offer a very wide range of products.

Another weakness in the paper is entangled information. The concept of business research does not come out clearly as it should as it is entangled in many other business processes. The paper does not analyze each of the processes differently and as a result, there is too much-generalized information. For example, the paper discusses BPM as one big process instead of breaking it down into the many components of the concept.

Executive summary

“Business process management today is a common concept and is focused on aligning all aspects of an organization with the wants and needs of clients” (Kothari, 2000). This kind of approach has been proven to increase companies’ efficiency and productivity (Kumar, 2005). Technology is a big part of the process, allowing effectiveness and proper utilization of innovations. Business process management has enabled many businesses to achieve continuity in their functionalities (Kaluzny, 2004). It is a business approach that has been proven to improve an organization’s time management, quality assurance, and customer satisfaction (Hare, 2010).

This paper analyzes the concept of business process management and its application in different organizations. Among the most important tools of business processes management is data collected through business and management research (Attaran, 2003). The paper, therefore, looks at business research, its processes, and its importance to an organization.

Data is collected through the use of written literature such as books, periodicals, and previous research projects. It is also collected through the internet and other organizational statistics. The use of questionnaires allows the research real-time data and information. There were 20 questionnaires, all filled and returned. From the results, it is clear that BPM is still not a common concept for many junior employees but everyone agrees that research plays an important role in implementing any business process and procedure.

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Introduction

Business process management (BPM) is not a new phenomenon in the world of business. It has been around since the early 1990s, then applied as business process modeling (Meyers, 2009). Even though business process management was initially intended to automate business processes, it has done much more than that. It has helped integrate human actions and technology (McNamara, 2009). For example, many manufacturing processes require a professional to judge the processes and through business processes, it is possible to assign the appropriate person to the process (Gustafsson, Andreas, and Huber, 2003).

In business processes management, the importance of business and market research cannot be over-emphasized (Remenyi, 2007). Research is one of the most important business processes, especially for businesses with a global presence (Armitage and Diane, 2003). Understanding markets and consumers can prove an impossible task if a business does not pay attention to its business and management research tools (Orlokowski and Baroudi, 1991). Information has become a very important part of business and many businesses are making research a big part of their budgets (Hair, et al., 2003). In the first stages of a business, the investor needs to research as part of the business planning process (Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, 2005). For a successful launch, the investor needs to understand identify where and how to do it, which markets are appropriate and the future of the markets they intend to invest in (Remenyi, et al., 1998). Business and market research is important if a business intends to solidify its future.

A big part of the process is planning for research, which is dependent on different factors such as the description of the project, the information one needs to collect, and the available resources for the project (Rouse and Daellenbach, 1999). Key considerations when one is designing a research project include the purpose for which the research is being done, the audiences for the information (bankers, employees, customers, the executive management of a company), the kind of information needed by the audience(understand a concept, understanding the strengths and weaknesses of products, how a certain service of program works), sources needed for a proper collection of information (books, customers, a certain group of people, certain documents), how to collect the information in a fashionable and possible manner and when the information will be needed (reading, consultation, direct interviews, conducting groups interviews, questionnaire). The other important consideration is the availability of resources for the completion of the project (Oderoq, 2007). These considerations help one answer questions such as what they want to answer after the research (Neergaard and John, 2008).

The first step towards analyzing and interpreting information involves reviewing the research goals (Surke, Saonee, and Anna, 2006). Understanding why you started the research project helps the researcher collect information with a specific target in mind and it is then possible to collect specific information (Anderson, 2004). For interviews and literature reviews, it is easier to have specific questions about the subjects one is interested in when they are aware of goals intended to be achieved (Savenye, and Rhonda, 2004). When someone is conducting an interview, it is easier for them to ask specific and direct questions when they have a clearly defined objective or goal (Gummesson, 2000).

In business and management research, it is important to organize data and have a focused analysis if the process has to be productive (Saunders, Philip, and Adrian, 2009). When analyzing data, it is important to read through all the information collected, organize it into different categories, label them and try to make patterns from them (Sanchez, 2008). The research must include enough background of what one is trying to understand to help them know when they are in the wrong direction (Gill, Phil, and Murray, 2010).

Literature review

In his article, McNamara takes the reader through a step-by-step process of business research methods. The steps include how to plan your research, selecting the most appropriate business method, and how to select from public data collection tools. Methods explained by the author include appreciative inquiry, interviews, case study design, questionnaires, and surveys, listening, questioning, and use of focus groups. The author also explains how to analyze, interpret and report the results. The author goes further and explains the ethics involved in business research and other general tools of importance in the process.

Ordering, a lecturer at Brunel Business School helps his readers understand business research by explaining business quantitative techniques and methods. The author explains the basics of quantitative techniques such as set theory and set concepts. For one to understand data when doing business research, it is imperative that they understand the set concepts, which includes a study of how differently data can be arranged and interpreted. The author explains the basic sets such as the subsets, null, universal, overlapping, and equality sets.

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The department of management and organization in Brunel University, through their article on management, highlights the importance of knowledge of various aspects before one can embark on any research project. For one to understand business research, one needs to have an applied understanding of the development and management of different concepts in businesses. According to the article, the concepts include organizational behavior and theories, changes, values and norms, business resources, and operations among other things. It is also important for one to be conversant with the legal aspects and systems of research and business. The article also emphasizes the importance of research methods for business management courses for anyone intending to involve themselves in business research projects professionally.

In their paper, Suprateek Sarker, Saonee Sarker, and Anna Sidorova, all lecturers at different universities in Washington, explain the concept of actor-network theory in understanding business research. According to the authors, the theory is particularly important when trying to explain events leading to different changes in different industries. The authors use the failure of a telecommunication company in the United States to explain how ANT can be used to explain business process change (BPC) in different companies. The authors explain the concept of problematization and parallel translation as applicable in understanding BPCs. The authors finally conclude that “for sociotechnical phenomena such as BPC with significant political components, an ANT-informed understanding can enable practitioners to better anticipate and cope with emergent complexities during research” (Surker, Saonee, and Anna, 2006, pp. 777).

Smart, Maddern, and Maull present the research factor in the business process management (BPM) theory. They explain the application components of the theory, perform an assessment of the model in various financial services companies, and case-based research in one of the companies. Their research reveals that both application and conceptual components of the BPM theory are important and research forms a very big part of completing both of them. The article emphasizes the need to have a fundamental mindset for the various research management processes in any institution.

Gill and fellow authors’ book addresses key philosophical concerns important for a clear understanding of management research methodologies. According to Gill, Phil, and Murray “the most important thing for us is that we make those choices consciously by engaging in critical reflection upon the philosophical presuppositions that inevitably influence how any research is undertaken” (Gill, Phil, and Murray, 2010, pp.3). The authors challenge the idea that some research methods are the “best” irrespective of the different contexts which different research projects could be based on. The book’s main objective is to expose the readers to the different philosophical arguments, which will help them gain an understanding of different business research methods and how to go about them. Another important resource for this paper was a book on research theories development. In this book, Sanchez Ron explains how to do research in a competent manner, focusing on the fundamental issues when developing research topics and theories. The book is a combination of various research management volumes reviewing competent concepts, themes, and ideas. The book also tries to help its audience understand different research concepts differences and clarifications.

Methodology

Researching and studying the relevance and importance of business process management was mostly through written literature. Written articles and books proved very relevant in the process and so were previous research projects by different authors. Information was also gathered through the internet, which proved very helpful in comparing how different organizations apply the concept of BPM and the role of business research on the same.

Questionnaires were used to understand how many people understand BPM and how relevant the concept was in different organizations. The questions were directed at employees in senior positions in different organizations. To make this possible, the questionnaires were distributed to 20 managers in different organizations. 10 of them were at executive positions and the other 10 were given to departmental level managers. Out of the 20 that were distributed, all were answered and returned.

Findings

From the literature review, the concept of business process management is still not very clear to many people but is very common in many businesses today (Cassell, Buehring, and Symon, 2006). Employees at different levels have different levels of understanding of the business process management concept (Burn and Richard, 2008). Many authors argue that the concept is only familiar to people at senior levels but still very unfamiliar to regular employees. Out of the 20 respondents who filled the questionnaires, only 5 did not have a very clear understanding of business process management and they were all at a junior level of management. Even so, they knew of its existence in their organizations and other business.

All the respondents pointed that business and management research played an important role, not just in business process management but in all other major applications in the organization. They also think that technology has a major role in implementing business process management. Unfortunately, only 20% of the respondents could name all the benefits of business process management and what it has done for their organization. The rest could only point out two or three of the benefits.

Conclusion

Business process management is an efficient tool in many businesses today, and information is a big part of it (Biklen, 2007). It is the need to automate processes and adopt modern operations that many businesses are willing to invest in BPM (Balasurbamanian and Wagner, 2000). The process is hard to perfect without proper data and information. It is for this reason that many organizations today allocate large amounts of funds to their research and development departments. Management and operations research allows businesses to keep in touch with current business trends and compare their strengths and weaknesses with other businesses and industries (Bogdan, 2000).

From the study, it is clear that the concept of business process management is still new to a large number of employees, even those working in organizations where the concept is already in use. It is only managers at senior levels that understand the concept fully, probably from the fact that they are involved in its budgeting and implementation process (Boyd, 1998). The most important tool in business process management is information, which is only available through research and data collection (Bal, 2002). As a result, business and management research is proving an important asset in organizations today, one that many businesses cannot do without.

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