Introducing the Six Core Elements of BPM


The consolidation of related literature, the merger of three existing BPM maturity models, the subsequent international Delphi studies and the case studies led to a set of well-defined factors that together constitute a holistic understanding of BPM (de Bruin 2009). Each of the six core elements represents a critical success factor for Business Process Management. Therefore, each element, sooner or later, needs to be considered by organizations striving for success with BPM. For each of these six factors, the consensus finding Delphi studies (de Bruin and Rosemann 2007) provided a further level of detail, the so called Capability Areas. Both factors and capability areas are displayed in Fig. 2.

Our model distinguishes six core elements critical to BPM. These are strategic alignment, governance, methods, information technology, people, and culture.

Strategic Alignment: BPM needs to be aligned with the overall strategy of an organization. Strategic alignment (or synchronization) is defined as the tight linkage of organizational priorities and enterprise processes enabling continual and effective action to improve business performance. Processes have to be designed, executed, managed, and measured according to strategic priorities and specific strategic situations (e.g., stage of a product lifecycle, position in a

Fig. 2 The six core elements of BPM

strategic portfolio; Burlton 2014). In return, specific process capabilities (e.g., competitive advantage in terms of time to execute or change a process) may offer opportunities to inform the strategy design leading to process-enabled strategies.

Governance: BPM governance establishes appropriate and transparent accountability in terms of roles and responsibilities for different levels of BPM, including portfolio, program, project, and operations (Spanyi 2014). A further focus is on the design of decision-making and reward processes to guide process-related actions.

Methods: Methods in the context of BPM are defined as the set of tools and techniques that support and enable activities along the process lifecycle and within enterprise-wide BPM initiatives. Examples are methods that facilitate process modeling or process analysis and process improvement techniques (Dumas et al. 2013). Six Sigma is an example for a BPM approach that has at its core a set of integrated BPM methods (Conger 2014).

Information Technology: IT-based solutions are of significance for BPM initiatives. With a traditional focus on process analysis (e.g., statistical process control) and process modeling support, BPM-related IT solutions increasingly manifest themselves in the form of process-aware information systems (PAIS) (Dumas et al. 2005). Process-awareness means that the software has an explicit understanding of the process that needs to be executed. Such process awareness could be the result of input in the form of process models or could be more implicitly embedded in the form of hard-coded processes (like in traditional banking or insurance applications).

People: People as a core element of BPM is defined as individuals and groups who continually enhance and apply their process and process management skills and knowledge in order to improve business performance. Consequently, this factor captures the BPM capabilities that are reflected in the human capital of an organization and its ecosystem.

• Culture: Culture incorporates the collective values of a group of people (Schein

2004) and comparative case studies clearly demonstrate the strong impact of culture on the success of BPM (de Bruin 2009). Culture is about creating a facilitating environment that complements the various BPM initiatives. Research has identified specific organizational values supportive for BPM as well as methods to measure and further develop a BPM-supportive organizational culture (Schmiedel et al. 2013). However, it needs to be recognized that the impact of culture-related activities tends to have a much longer time horizon than activities related to any of the other five factors.

The six identified factors in this BPM maturity model are heavily grounded in literature. A sample summary of literature supporting these factors is shown in Fig. 3.

In the following, we will elaborate on the capability areas that further decom-

pose each of these six factors. Here, we particularly draw from the results of a set of international Delphi Studies that involved BPM experts from the US, Australasia, and Europe (de Bruin and Rosemann 2007). We can only provide a brief overview about each of the six factors in the following sections and refer to the chapters in this Handbook for deeper insights per factor.



Strategic Alignment

Elzinga et al., 1995; Hammer, 2001; Hung, 2006; Jarrar et al., 2000; Pritchard and Armistead, 1999; Puah K.Y. and Tang K.H, 2000; Zairi, 1997; Zairi and Sinclair, 1995


Braganza and Lambert, 2000; Gulledge and Sommer, 2002; Harmon, 2005; Jarrar et al., 2000; Pritchard and Armistead, 1999


Adesola and Baines, 2005; Harrington, 1991; Kettinger et al. 1997; Pritchard and Armistead, 1999; Zairi, 1997

Information Technology

Gulledge and Sommer, 2002; Hammer and Champy, 1993; McDaniel, 2001


Elzinga et al., 1995; Hung, 2006; Llewellyn and Armistead, 2000; Pritchard and Armistead, 1999; Zairi and Sinclair, 1995; Zairi, 1997


Elzinga et al., 1995; Llewellyn and Armistead, 2000; Pritchard and Armistead, 1999; Spanyi, 2003, Zairi, 1997; Zairi and

Sinclair, 1995

Fig. 3 The six BPM core elements in the literature

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