The author of this report is asked to select a section of the current BPTrends report and select a section that is to be analyzed and summarized. After selection of the section and the ensuing analysis, the author of this report is to then compare and contrast the findings of the BP Trends report with five scholarly journal sources. The section that was selected from the 2014 report is the "Corporate BPM Activity Today" section. While summarizing something as vast and wide as business process management practice and trends can be difficult, there is still a wealth of knowledge and access that allows people to truly see the future of the subject and the industries that use it.
One of the first tidbits from the Corporate BPM section that catches the eye of the author of this report is the survey results shown in figure twenty on the twenty-fourth page. The survey is a review of the main focus of the organization whose representative is taking the survey. The survey is shown chronological order for the years of 2009, 2011 and 2013. There were a total of six different options given and respondents could pick either one choice or two of the six. Those options, with the 2013 percentage allotted noted in parentheses, were improving specific departmental processes (forty percent), automating departmental or enterprise-wide processes (twenty percent), incremental improvement of existing processes (thirty-three percent), redesigning enterprise-wide processes (eighteen percent), defining an enterprise-wide process architecture or measurement system (fourteen percent) and defining an enterprise-wide process management and governance system (seventeen percent). The levels for each item were fairly stable for prior surveys two or four years back but some did do some protracted jumping around. For example, focus on incremental improvement of existing processes was either thirty-two or thirty-three percent on all three surveys. Similarly, focus on defining an enterprise-wide process management or government system jumped from seventeen to twenty percent and then back to seventeen percent in 2014. However, automation of department process skipped way up from twenty-three to thirty-one percent from 2009 to 2011 and then back down again to twenty percent. Redesigning of enterprise-wide process went from twenty-five percent in 2009 and then dropped to eighteen percent for both 2011 and 2013. Improving departmental processes dropped a bit from thirty-two to twenty-eight and then spiked up to forty percent. The figure in question is shown in the first appendix (BP Trends, 2014).
The other survey that was illustrative actually dates back to the 2005 iteration of the report and it asks where the business process management (BPM) group resides within the organization. The choices given for this question were do not have a formal BPM group, executive, divisional/departmental, information technology (IT), HR/training, finance, quality control or other. Roughly a third of all respondents and in all of the last five reports reflected that no formal business process management group exists within the firm. This answer was far and away the most popular and this was true for all five of the surveys in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013. The other answers, even though smaller, were also fairly consistent. The answer "other" did bounce around a bit ranging from six percent to eleven percent. The executive answer all varied a bit ranging from thirteen percent to eighteen percent. However, quality control was a steady answer as it varied only three total percent over all five surveys. Division/departmental only varied four percent over all five surveys. Human resources and finance were two departments that always go no responses or very little. The aforementioned division/departmental, executive level and IT group were always second, third or fourth. HR/training, finance, quality control and "other" were all very rare to non-answers (BP Trends, 2014).
As for how this compares to the scholarly literature, a few observations can be made. One thing that jumped out was a study printed in October 2013 that stated that business process management had a strong linkage with improved company performance. However, there are either a lot of people that disagree or that do not know this to be true because roughly a third of all businesses do not even have a business process management group in their fold. However, that is just one study and the verdict on that in the grand collection of scholarly literature or otherwise is probably fairly mixed. However, few could argue that there is no benefit and this is verified both in this work about the benefits as well as the BP Trends report that shows a clear majority of businesses at least try to use business process management even though there may not be a formal and separate department for that work (Bhasin & Parrey, 2013)
Another article selected highlights the fact that the amount of possible or reasonable benefit extracted from business process management can vary a lot. A very large business with very intricate processes and structures would need to have a robust and organized system to manage and update process. On the other hand, smaller businesses need to take the topic of scalability into account since there is no need to make business process management complex and inordinately large a task if the complexity of the processes in question is not all that high. Given that, this second scholarly report asks whether smaller IT firms benefit from high process capability. Indeed, their answer says clearly that while any high-process models need to be scaled and structured based on the size and needs of a business, there is indeed massive benefits to be realized so long as it is done prudently and wisely ("Do Small Firms," 2012). The next academic work authored found that regardless of where the business process function is housed, it needs to be done in an unified way that aligns with the strategic directions of the company (He et al., 2006). Also important is knowing the influences and vantage points of stakeholders and thus wielding and organizing the business process management function properly (Ostadi, Aghdasi & Alibabaei, 2011). Also important is simulating changes before committing to them (Chen & Tsai, 2008).
The literature reviewed above as well as the shows a couple of things. First, it shows that the reviews and summaries found in scholarly literature are showing certain priorities and ideas while the business world is behaving a little differently. To be sure, it is quite easy for some "egghead" in a proverbial ivory tower at a college to say that "x" is true and "y" is true and that businesses should do it. In fact, transferring something from an idea to paper to current process is an undertaking of the highest order and should not be done lightly. Further, for the reasons mentioned in this report and others, taking a cookie-cutter approach to all business process management ideas and projects is less than wise because the size, complexity, involved industry and other factors are important to consider fully before proceeding because doing otherwise can lead to solutions that are incomplete or flat wrong. As noted before, the size of the business is a major factor. Indeed, change for change's sake is not something any sane business manager or executive should strive for and making things too complex and thus rendering a workable process into something that actually makes things worse is never a good idea.
Instead, it is important to take all relevant factors into account and that would include where the business process management function is housed. Many survey takers in the BP Trends report might very well be small enough that having a separate department is not worth the time, money and organization when it can or should be rolled into something that already exists such as the executive tier or human resources. Regardless,…