Specifics of Business Process Management in Public Administration

The main difference between the public administrations and private sector are the bureaucratic principles of administrative actions (Becker et al. 2007; Gu¨ngo¨z 2007) which directly affect government processes. Table 3 shows a selection of those principles and several further characteristics of the public sector in comparison to the private sector.

The principles and characteristics which are valid for the public sector constitute special conditions for task fulfillment in public authorities in comparison to private sector organizations (Lenk et al. 2002). Thus, an economically inefficient action cannot be seen as a deficit of the task fulfillment or the management within the public authorities because the public services and actions are defined by binding political aims and are legally regulated. Moreover, for recommendations for the implementation or improvement of the production and provision of public services, the government processes need to consider the binding of actions to specific intents, laws, and welfare. In summary, the several specifics in public administrations (cp. Table 3) seem to influence the implementation of BPM within public authorities. Hence, these specifics are discussed in the following based on the six core elements of BPM (Rosemann and vom Brocke (2014) provide a comprehensive discussion of these elements). Figure 5 summarizes important influencing factors on the core elements of BPM. In addition, the figure depicts that other domains such as manufacturing and commerce reveal further domain-specific influencing factors on BPM.

Fig. 5 Maturity levels for the 48-h-service promise

The general, domain-neutral description of the six core elements in the following is based on publications of Rosemann et al. (Rosemann and de Bruin 2005; Rosemann et al. 2006; Rosemann and vom Brocke 2014).

2.4.1 Factor: Strategic Alignment

Strategic alignment establishes a relation between the strategy of an organization and the business processes. It supports the operative alignment of government processes toward strategic objectives of the administration. Thus, the strategic alignment is especially influenced by political aims and the binding of actions to specific intents, laws, and welfare. Strategies and objectives in public administration are deductions of political aims and, at the same time, bound to common welfare. The definition of processes needs to be in line with politically legitimated guidelines and needs to follow the laws, instructions, and regulations of the administration.

As a reason of the increasing pursuit of service orientation, legal regulations as well as the multitude and heterogeneous stakeholders of administrations, especially citizens and enterprises with their different interests, need to be considered during the process design. In addition, the heterogeneity of the service portfolio and the fact that an organization is horizontally and vertically segmented require a case-bycase alignment of the processes toward the aims, as all services and organizational units cannot be analyzed or grasped by a single general approach.

Furthermore, guidelines are occasionally provided for the design of strategies.

The European Union service directive (directive 2006/123/EC) (Fontelles and Pekkarinen 2006), for instance, defines some special requirements for the European Union member states concerning the design of administrative processes and management. But state authorities can also determine some propositions for local administrations in certain fields.

To evaluate the strategy and achievement of objectives, the results need to be measured. Frequently, measuring process results in public administrations is difficult as there are no commonly accepted indicators. The lack of a market for public services does not alleviate the problem of assessing process results according to economic principles. Measurements as they were done for the private sector are inadequate, as they aim at profit maximization of an organization and do not consider to welfare maximization.

2.4.2 Factor: Governance

Governance means a systematic leadership and control of BPM through established and relevant decision guidance and processes. As a result of the legal guidelines and the hierarchical structure of the public administration, this factor possesses exceptionally high requirements. Assigning roles and responsibilities often follows clear guidelines due to legal rules and suppresses a wide flexibility. For example, there are special regulations in Germany for data privacy in the social sector, which allows only responsible officials to access certain personal data. Hence, changes in the organization of the BPM are problematic.

To provide standards for the BPM, administrative rules have to be considered. The monitoring of the abidance to rules in BPM by responsible persons is a challenge. Identifying suitable metrics is often a problem. They have to ensure a measurement of BPM capability according to BPM standards, and, furthermore, they have to value the abidance to rules and further conditions.

Decisions for a systematic leadership and control of the BPM need to be bound to central roles and responsible persons in the government hierarchy. On the one hand, this is necessary because of the hierarchy, while on the other hand, there exists a decentralized organization of task fulfillment as a reason of the high level of division of work. Accordingly, super-ordinate instances for systematic leadership and control are necessary.

2.4.3 Factor: Methods

The literature describes a multitude of methods for realizing and supporting BPM in general. Nevertheless, several methods are especially aligned to public administration or e-Government. During the conception of a process, legal rules can easily be used to reason design decisions. Likewise, the high complexity of government processes and organizational structures in public administrations necessitates special methods and tools for modeling the processes (Palkovits and Wimmer 2003).

Methods for the transfer of process concepts to electronic implementations in the case of e-Government have to consider infrastructural conditions (cp. information technology). The high concentration of decisions in public administration requires the continuance of manual processes. An electronic implementation of the processes often has to be reduced to an electronic support of manual processes. Furthermore, the necessity of documentation of all decisions and occurrences (principle of documentation requirements) during the process implementation through corresponding techniques and systems has to be considered.

2.4.4 Factor: Information Technology

Information technology is necessary to realize the approaches of BPM. In the context of public administration, there result several particularities as the information technology frequently presents itself as heterogeneous and outdated. Accordingly, there result special requirements on information technologies which have a high importance concerning the maturity measurement.

Besides, particularities result from fragmented infrastructures because of the separation of administrative authorities in federal states. The current administration and the accompanying decentralized organization are not motivated by information technological causes, but solely result from the historical development. Therefore, special information technological requirements arise for the management of processes, which have to be executed across the states, administrative levels, and authorities.

Furthermore, there results a multitude of information technological requirements from political requirements or legal guidelines. This is exemplified by the German DOMEA approach (DOMEA: document management and electronical archiving in IT-supported business processes) (KBSt -Koordinierungs- und Beratungsstelle der Bundesregierung fu¨ r Informationstechnik in der Bundesverwaltung 2005). This standard raises requirements for the implementation of tools and systems for BPM like, for instance, content or document management system.

2.4.5 Factor: People

People represent an important component when realizing an efficient BPM. In public administration, there often exists a high level of division of work and specialization, so that process knowledge is often concentrated in just a few employees. This implies the following consequences: First, approaches to survey the process knowledge require a significantly higher involvement of employees in order to determine the process steps in detail; otherwise, real “as-is” processes in administration can hardly be determined. Second, actions for reorganization are often strictly limited or require special coaching because of a lack of necessary competencies. New “to-be” processes cannot be successfully implemented. Third, it is often difficult to identify appropriate responsible persons for such processes, which is due to the decentralized organization in public administration.

Because of the structures in public administration so far, the knowledge of methods and technologies for BPM is hardly developed. Hence, in comparison to the private sector, intensive methods for developing necessary knowledge regarding BPM have to be introduced (for a study on the skill set required for BPM please see Mu¨ller et al. 2014). The implementation of a process organization in public administration is complicated by the fact that the responsible persons have to be convinced that a higher level of process orientation would be useful.

2.4.6 Factor: Culture

This factor comprises the responsiveness to process changes, process values, and beliefs, as well as the strength of leadership in respect of BPM. Regarding this aspect, there are hardly any particularities in the public sector in comparison to the private sector.

However, the organizational culture is seen as a whole: organizational culture is considered as an amount of assumptions shared by a group of people, which has been invented, detected, or developed by them for solving problems based on the division of work (Schein 1984). Accordingly, hierarchy culture, market culture, clan culture, and adhocracy culture can be distinguished. The organizational culture in public administration is especially affected by a hierarchy culture. Because of the hierarchical organizational structure, it can be assumed that the maturity of the organizational culture in public administration is generally rather low, in this respect. Hence, methods for improving the process maturity as far as the organizational culture is concerned should be considered notably (see vom Brocke et al. 2014; Schmiedel et al. 2014).

BPM maturity models were considered as means for implementing and realizing the 48-h-service promise in public administration. For this purpose, they have to consider the requirements for a 48-h-service promise solution. According to the high amount of specifics of BPM in public administration, they have additionally to consider the particular requirements which arise from the public administration domain (OMG 2008, p. 69). However, most of the existing BPM maturity models seem to be proposed for the application within the private sector. Therefore, Sect. 3 analyzes known maturity models for BPM and public administration.

 
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