Business Process Management : Research Proposal

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Business Process Management (BPM, is an organizational leadership model that focuses on the alignment of the entire operations by the requirements of the customers. On the other hand, Business Process Management System or BPMS is the tool that enables the implementation of BPM and helps in automating the methodologies, techniques, and monitoring and controlling business processes. However, the research proposal focuses on developing a practical framework for implementing BPM and BPMS based on several case studies and surveying BPM and BPMS practitioners in the field (José, 2004).

BPM and BPMS are enterprise-wide projects. They need a huge effort, commitment, and resources in their implementations. Likewise, they interact with people, systems, and the overall organization strategy. Therefore, they need to be carefully implemented, with a practical implementation framework taking into consideration all aspects and critical success factors to ensure a smooth implementation (Majed, 1995).

In addition, I am working in this field for more than two years as the Business Process Management Office Manager in my company which we have executed several BPM and BPMS projects. Besides, I am the co-founder of the Saudi Chapter in Saudi Arabia and its VP of Education and have presented several presentations related to this topic. Moreover, I have more than five years of experience in IT in general.

For a long time researchers have endeavored to establish the connection existing between a business institution and it’s laid down strategies, structures, technologies and environmental aspects (Kanellis et al, 1999). Globalization has set a stage for economic development and stiffer competition that has forced organizations to radically improve their business processes to increase the performance rating (Ranganathan and Dhaliwal, 2001). The major field through which these aspects of growth are addressed is the “business process management” (BPM). Due to the significance elicited by this field, many researchers have emerged and they have been exploring the area to shed more light on modern business operations.

According to Zairi (1997), BPM can be understood as the combination of different contributions from an institution aimed at analyzing and improving primary organizational operations like marketing and manufacturing. These organizational operations constitutes of what is referred to as the “business process” that can be defined as the comprehensive, dynamic and well co-ordinated set of operations (that are in most cases interrelated) and which require to be carried out so as to accomplish organizational goals (Guha and Kettinger, 1993).

A number of empirical studies have shown that the state of business management in any organization is a significant determining factor on its profitability and performance (Skrinjar and Dimovski, 2007). However, there is no important benefit that has been established which can sufficiently justify the work from these researches on this concept (Vergidis et al, 2008). In practice, there has been many failures reported from diverse projects on the ground and therefore efforts have been initiated to establish the exact critical success factors (CSF) of BPM/BPMS on these programs. The findings of these many studies have therefore only succeeded in bringing out the theoretical perspective of the concept.

This paper therefore aims at bridging the gap created by the past studies by establishing a foundation for which failures in BPM efforts for many project and programs can be explained. This will be achieved by working out a practical framework for BPM and BPMS implementation.

Critical Success Factors for BPM/BPMS and IT implementation

Success factors are one area that has received very little attention from researchers whose focus has been mainly on process modeling aspects. Success for a BPM is realized when a project is able to consistently meet its short term goals as well as long term goals. As revealed by Karim et al (2007), 60 – 80% of the BPM schemes have failed a fact that has led to loss of confidence among many organizations on embracing business process concept.

The need for clearly identifying the critical success factors (CSFs) has also been driven by many risks involved in the business process management. The CSFs for BPM that have been cited in most of the researches in the area includes support from the senior management team, and the contribution from project management. Other CSFs are attributed to effective cooperation between organizational departments, efficient communication and training. Most researchers have however identified senior management team as one most critical factor as it is the one that drums up support for all BPM initiatives.

It is important to note that CSFs for BPM/BPMS are usually case specific regardless of the country where they are being used. Information Technology (IT) plays an important role in facilitating changes initiated in the BPM programs though the actual value and empirical effect of IT on the profitability of the organization still remains highly contested. The real value of IT can only be measured at the processing level where major effects are normally manifested.

It is expected that a BPM would transform organizations’ strategies into particular goals to facilitate the implementation of such strategies. Any deviation from this approach may end up giving unsatisfactory results. Ignorance of such processes as well as pushing off some of significant factors such as modern technology has been found to be one of the main causes of failure. Success can therefore be assured only if BPM takes into account all relationships between its operation and other CSFs.

Relationship between Business Environment and Business Process

As stated by Rogers, Miller and judge (1999), any business enterprise must organize its operations strategically in line with the prevailing competition in the market if it has to remain successful. This is because as postulated by the contingency theory, not all organizational styles are applicable in all circumstances at all the time. This means that organizational style suitable at any given time is dictated by the external and/or internal challenges being addressed and therefore there is no universally established way to apply it. For this to work, it is paramount that an organization realizes the way its operations relate not only with the environment but also with the other sub-systems that constitute it.

Most of the interest today about BPM strongly shifts from the concern of justifying its value and practices towards comprehension of the contextual framework through which these practices are effected. The linkages between the attributes of a business enterprise and the normalized design processes in the system that is supposed to be embraced (by the business enterprise) is most likely going to affect whether the implementation would succeed or fail. It is therefore wrong for one organization to directly borrow a BPM idea that has been seen to successfully work elsewhere and copy it directly to another organization. Each organization should instead analyze carefully its unique contingencies and this will guide towards alignment of the BPM operations accordingly.

Sustenance of Successful BPM/BPMS Implementation Efforts

The way through which an organization can achieve and maintain a competitive advantage in a challenging market environment can be well explained by use of the Dynamic Capabilties’ (DCs’) theory. This theory embraces a process based approach that enables organizations to overcome challenges that are brought about by resource based approaches. DCs are known to act as buffers between resources of an organization and the dynamic business aspects. This way the organization is aided towards adjusting its resources and therefore maintaining the ability of the organization to retain competitive advantage in the market. In this case a firm is able to come up with both internal and external unique areas of competency that can not be easily imitated (Majed, 1995).

According to Hung (2006), BPM is the leading management practice that can aid organizations to acquire and maintain competitive advantage. This process based approach gives room for analysis, designing, management as well as optimizing the changing structure of an enterprise. Considering that there are many challenges associated with the changing nature of business processes, BPM can be seen as a continuous practice within a business enterprise aimed at improving the business processes in accordance with the market dynamics. For this reason, it is paramount for any organization to ensure that a linkage is established between its business process and the appropriate technologies where the change of the business processes as well as regular upgrading require proper synchronization.

Relationship between Business Processes and Modern Technologies

The significance of modern technologies in BPM/BPMS can comprehensively be covered through the idea postulated in Task – Technology Fit (TTF) theory. The TTF theory postulates that technology is very likely going to cause an improvement in the achievements of an individual wherever the potential of that particular technology equals the tasks that could have been carried out by the end-user.

This means that technology becomes useful only when the functions at disposal by the end-user concur with his immediate normal tasks (Kanellis, 1999). In addition, Karim et al (2007) observed that technology will only improve on the performance of a business enterprise only if it matches the predominant business practices. Once an assurance is there that technology is well aligned to the pre-determined strategies of an organization, then success of such a business is assured. However, as Smith and Fingar (2003) found out what is more important in the success of an organization are “business processes” and not “technology”.

This means that employing the use of technology in an organization without being able to align such technology to address the business strategies will be efforts in futility. Therefore the success factor in the use of technology in BPM/BPMS does not only depend on the presence of the technological gadgets and software but more significantly on how best the choice of such technologies is in improving the general performance of the organization.

The research questions

This study is geared towards answering the following research questions:

  1. What are the main CSFs when implementing BPM and BPMS projects?
  2. How these CSFs are related to the BPM & BPMS implementation stages?
  3. How can we manage these CSFs during the implementation?
  4. What are the KPIs that I can measure that are related to these CSFs?
  5. What are the suggested steps that I need to implement BPM & BPMS projects?

Research Goals

The primary research goal for this paper is to establish a practical framework for implementation of BPM and BPMS in an organization. However there are other secondary goals that are expected to be achieved in the course of the study including:

  1. Mastering of BPM and BPMS concepts through comprehensive analysis of CSFs.
  2. Evaluate causes of failures in business projects/programs and how to avoid and/or overcome such failures.
  3. Examine the role of modern technologies in a competitive business environment.

Research approach/ methodologies

The initial stage in this research paper will mainly involve thorough study of the topical relevant issues in an attempt to fully comprehend and identify the appropriate conceptual knowledge that will guide towards realization of the goals and objectives of the research paper. The paper will take a Multi Method approach where both qualitative and quantitative data shall be collected for analysis. According to Mingers (2001), a research design consists of different frameworks that are used for the collection and analysis of data. Studies carried out by Gibbs (2002) also reveals that multi method research approach is best suited for a study whose purpose is primarily to describe a situation, phenomenon, problem or event like in the current case.

He believes that because the method is unstructured, flexible and has an open methodology it creates a subjective environment suitable for such research. Multi method research approach, even when theoretically informed, is the least biased type of study whereas exploratory research through case studies can also constitute an important aspect of the research. The use of multi method research method also gives a wide range of data sources that provides an opportunity for comparative analysis of the findings.

The data collected shall be analysed through excel and SPSS computer programs. These programs are the best in analysing this kind of data because they offer a wide variety of options in grouped data analysis as well as presentation of results through diversified options of graphs and charts.

Timescale/research planning

  • Stage 1: Interview with Business Process Management Firms/Enterprises
    • The initial stage will involve selection of firms from which data shall be collected for the study. The research plan shall be discussed with the firms’ management teams and integrated within the main research time line. Interview shall then be conducted per the schedule.
  • Stage 2: Development of Critical Success Factors
    • The information sourced through the interviews conducted in stage one shall be carefully sorted on priority basis. A database of CSFs shall then be identified and stored from the prioritized list.
  • Stage 3: Collect appropriate Case studies
    • Depending on the CSFs stored, a list of appropriate firms shall be selected from the initial list to help in generating case studies appropriate for the study.
  • Stage 4: Creation of an implementation framework
    • At this stage an implementation framework shall be created under the auspices of the identified critical success factors and the practical scenario observed from the case studies collected in stage 3.
  • Stage 5: Pilot the implementation framework
    • Once an implementation framework is developed a few firms shall be selected and used in a pilot project. The pilot project shall help in identifying challenges that could habour successful roll out of the eventual practical framework implementation for BPM and BPMS.
  • Stage 6: Create, conduct and analyze interview
    • Depending on the findings from the pilot project, a more result oriented interview shall be carried out within carefully selected and analyzed respondent firms. This will be aimed at eliminating the foreseeable challenges.
  • Stage 7: Development of a final CSFs List
    • This will be a crucial stage through which CSFs list shall be formulated on the basis of information gathered from the pilot study. The information gathered in stage 6 shall be weighted to identify to most significant CSFs that shall inform the other stages of the research
  • Stage 8: Documentation, analysis and experimentation of the identified CSFs
    • Before the final stage is carried out, the identified critical success factors shall be prudently analyzed and experimented. This will help in “owning” the identified factors generated and will go a long way in ensuring that the factors are relevant at the implementation stage.
  • Stage 9: Develop practical implementation framework for BPM/BPMS
    • At this final stage, the final implementation framework for BPM/BPMS shall be drawn based on the firms/enterprises that participated in the initial interview in stage 1. With this final implementation framework the CSFs can be integrated in BPM/BPMS successfully avoiding the traditional problems and challenges identified through the study.

These 9 stages shall be carried out in a three years timeframe and will be spread across the period as shown in the following table.



Gibbs, G. (2002). Qualitative analysis with Nvivo, Buckingham: Open University Press.

Guha, S., & Kettinger, W. J. (1993). Business process reengineering. Information Systems Management, 10(3), 13–22.

Hung, R. Y. (2006). Business process management as competitive advantage: A review and empirical study. Total Quality Management & Business Excellence, 17(1), 21–40.

José, E. J. (2004). Using a Multimethod Approach to Research Enterprise Systems Implementations. Business Research Methods , 69-82.

Kanellis, P., Lycett, M., & Paul, R. (1999). Evaluating business information systems fit: From concept to practical application. European Journal of Information Systems, 8(1), 65–76.

Karim, J., Somer, T. M., & Bhattacherjee, A. (2007). The impact of ERP implementation on business process outcomes: A factor-based study. Journal of Management Information Systems, 24(1), 101–134.

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Skrinjar, R., & Dimovski, V. (2007). Organizational learning culture—The missing link between business process change and organizational performance. International Journal of Production Economics, 106(2), 346–367.

Smith, H., & Fingar, P. (2003). IT doesn’t matter—Business processes do Tampa. FL: Meghan-Kiffer Press.

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Zairi, M. (1997). Business process management: Aboundaryless approach to modern competitiveness. Business Process Management Journal, 3(1), 64–80.

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