Wednesday, November 19, 2008



Business Process management (BPM) is not a new management theory. According to Smith & Fingar (2007), BPM discovers what we do and then manages the lifecycle of improvement and optimization, in a way that translates directly to operation. In fact, based on mathematical foundation, the BPM breakthrough is for business people. Designed top down in accordance with a company strategy, business processes can now be unhindered by the constraints of existing IT systems.

Meanwhile , as overall culture refers to integrated patterns of human behavior that include the language, thoughts, communications, actions, customs, beliefs, values, and institutions of racial, ethnic, religious, or social groups.


In the beginning, BPM defined as integration of two functionalities; human facing workflow and enterprise application integration (system to system). Nowadays, BPM is essential infrastructure for process-oriented organizations , where are so many tools as part of the package such as process modeling, business rules, monitoring and analytics, simulation and optimization , and also web services integration.

Meanwhile, culture refers to the customs, practices, languages, values and world views that define social groups such as those based on nationality, ethnicity, region or common interest (2008 Social Report).) Culture was found to impact a variety of organizational processes and performance ( Lee & Yu , 2004). Therefore, companies need culture , that encourages continous process improvement. However, according to Khan (2005), cultural uniqueness does not drive specialized BPM requirements. He added, everyone throughout the world even they are in different industries want the same basic things from BPM such as flexibility, integration, security, and so on.

So, the purpose of this paper is to identified the possible relationship between BPM and culture. Where as , culture is treted as an internal variable , and is defined as the shared values and norms of the organization’s members.

3.1 Overview of BPM
Business process management (BPM) became an important theme in the 1990s as
Companies strived to increase their productivity, improve their relationship with customers and reduce the time to launch new products and processes. (Sentanin, Santos & Jabbour, 2008).

Business process management has received much attention in the industrial engineering and management literature, and its benefits are well known. Much less has been written in the public sector management literature, and what has been written has been very general. In fact, Jr Gulledge & Sommer (2002) mentioned that public organizations will have to change their organizational structures radically as well as their enterprise systems in order to implement business process management concepts successfully. They added
that BPM is as old as the discipline of industrial engineering. Localized implementations of process management (e.g. manufacturing processes, shipping processes, etc.) have been prevalent for years .

3.2 Definitions of BPM
The term BPM has been used more frequently in the past few years. Therefore, various definitions of BPM are presented in the literature. In fact, these definitions are not always consistent. Moreover, BPM in not a question of all or nothing. It is a continuum, which ranges from better process-related know-how of the employees to an organizational and the terms “business process” and now “business process management” (BPM) have been loosely used to identify with jus about every activity that a firm participates in” (Lee , 2005)

In 1997, Hindle defines a business process as a logical sequince of interrelated activities, characterized by a set of organizational structure specific inputs and value-added tasks that produce a set of outputs to meet corporate and customer (stakeholder) requirements.

Meanwhile, Al-Mudimigh (2007) defines a business as a set of interrelated activities which have definable inputs and, when executed, result in an output that adds value form a customer perspective. Business processes are quite simply the way work is done in any organization. They are cross-functional and go across the organizational functions, e.g. orger fulfillment which spans all organizational functions from customer order to final delivery. So, in their research, Al-Mudinigh stresses, BPM is a structured approach to understand, analyze, support, and continuouslhy improve fundamental process such as manufacturing, marketing, communications and others major elements of a company’s operations, and also stated that BPM is a wide and encompassing system that starts with top management understanding and involvement, focuses on process improvement across the supply chain, instills a structured approach to change management, and emphasizes people management and development.

A business process also as a collection of related, structured activities that produce a service or product that meet the needs of a client. These processes are critical to any organization as they generate revenue and often represent a significant proportion of costs. There fore defined BPM as a method of efficiently aligning an organization, flexibility and integration with technology. As organization strive for attainment of their objectives, BPM attempts to continuously improve processes – the process to define, measure and improve your processes – a ‘process optimization’ process.

However, Ovum (2000) defines BPM as a change management and system implementation methodology to aid the continuous comprehension and management of business processes that interact with people and systems, both within and across organizations. Other than that, Smith and Fingar (2007) writes “BPM not only encompasses the discovery, design and deployment of business processes processes, but also the executive, administrative and supervisory control over them to ensure that they remain compliant with business objectives for the delight of customers”.

BPM also has been define as a supporting business processes using methods, techniques, and software to design, enact, control, and analyze operational processes involving humans, organizations, applications, documents and other sources of information (Van der Aalst, 2004).

Meanwhile, one of the latest research done by McLean (2008), mentioned that business processes are a vital component of every organization. They provide essential core, support activities, and synergize the transformation of inputs to outputs. Nevertheless, like any organizational activity, they have to be regularly configured to enable the organization to respond to external forces for change and ensure it has the wherewithal to not just survive, but also remain competitive.

So, base on literature we found that these definitions have various similarities and intend to show that the objectives of BPM. However, the change towards a business processes to support company’s objectives if they are not known. The business objectives must be directly linked to business strategic planning. Processes without connection to the strategic planning have no reason to exist because they are consumers of resources which disorganise other processes. If they are successfully managed, they contribute to attaining a company’s strategy, redefining objectives and improving the management of core processes, However, this link between core processes and company’s strategy is usually hindered by various factors because BPM requires (Sentanin et al, 2008):
· Preparation and definition of actions;
· Top management support;
· Competences for changes; and
· A strategy to reduce resistance to BPM

Overall, BPM has without any doubts many facets and many definitions. Elements of BPM can range from strategic discussions including , business process outsourcing or the role of a Chief Processor to methodological and operational concepts related to analyzing , modeling, improving and automating business processes. In whatever way BPM is defined, practically every organizations is already doing BPM at some level as business processes reflect the core activities of an organization

3.3 The benefits of BPM

According to Jr Gulledge & Sommer (2002), Business process management provided competitive advantage through cycle-time reduction, and the new information technologies provided managerial control. In fact, in the public sector, the primary benefit of business process management is the “increased effectiveness and efficiency achieved from restructuring the organization along-functional processes. They also stresses that the business process provides the internal organization structure for integrating process-oriented information system, where as the integrated systems deliver competitive advantage when they are aligned with the organization’s value adding processes. They added, organizations that attempt business process management without realigning their information systems will not realize the full benefits that process management can deliver, and also, these organizations cannot quickly respond to the customer, and management does not have appropriate decision-support information, but these are only the obvious observations. Other than that, BPM also provides governance of a business process environment to improve agility and operational performance.

3.4 BPM and IT issues

The drive for BPM is coming from organizations wanting to engage in inter-enterprise business processes that are independent of the technology used to support them. Fundamental to the BPM concept is a standard business process modeling language (BPML), which is designed to enable companies to jointly develop business processes with their partners and collaborators, without the need to enforce a common technology platform, e.g. SAP. In fact, in the context of BPM, organization must tighten the specification to the extent that the process must be describable in a standardized business process language and computationally executed to provide the expected outputs in a repeatable fashion. This tighter specification of process will similarly require a tightening of the associated terms of explicit knowledge, codification and routine. An important contribution of the recent BPM initiatives is the creation of standard languages to describe a business process in computer executable form, e.g. BPML (Lee, 2005).

According to Kung & Hagen (2007), BMP includes five main IT-related components, which is :
Process modeling. Business processes are modeled according to a standard notation;e.g. event-driven process chains (EPC) or activitiy diagrams of UML. The process models are used either by the human actor who carries out the process manually or by a process engine (e.g. a workflow system).Process/workflow engine. These IT systems are used as componets of process-based applications. They guarantee that processes are performed according to their specification.
Real-time monitoring. This function addresses the fact that the state of running processes (instances) should be easily identifiable. Process performance measurement. To determine the performance of business processes via a given set of performance indicators.
Business rule management. It aim at extracting business rules from traditional software applications and to store and manage them via a separate component, called business rules engine.

Therefore, businesses need to constantly adapt their processes, yet they are often held back by static IT systems (BPMS). This report helps software vendors, service organisations and end users determine where the software and service opportunity lies in BPM. (

In addition, Duncan et al (2007) have defined a core technology as a medium for modeling and the set of core technologies that are the building blocks for their BPMS architecture pyramid. They have used the criticality of formal transmission and processing of modeling characteristics between core technologies to suggest a theoretical basis for explaining why these core technologies are required and why they interrelate so.

Moreover, through the application of BPM and the use of process-oriented IT systems (BPM systems) quality and performance of processes has increased substantially, and the most important effects are the following (Kung & Hagen, 2007):Cycle time has been reduced. This is mainly due to the fact that waiting time has almost disappeared. As soon as a certain process step is finished the case is automatically moved forward by the BPM system. Another element that has reduced cycle time is that employees are actively notified by the system about the work that has to be done.Output per employee has increased. All process steps that can be performed by a machine (without loosing quality) are executed by the IT system. For instance, prior to automation, employees had to use long checklists for certain processes to ensure the process was carried out correctly. Today this part has been taken over by the process engine
Of work products has increased. Quality of the cases performed has improved. Five aspects may have caused this effect:
· The processes have been improved (partial re-engineering) as part of BPM.
· Today’s processes are more clearly defined than in the past.
· Process automation enforces correctness of process execution.
· The role (includes duty and responsibility) of the process participants has become clearer.
· The structure of the processes is more visible to employees.

3.5 BPM related to culture.
In short, according to Zairi (1997), the development of a culture based on BPM can be greatly assisted by using total quality principles, a systematic methodology, a problem-solving or QIP which can help with developing local solutions within functions of across functions, the use of performance measures for monitoring inputs, outputs and the control of each process, and a culture of continuous improvement based on learning from within and outside the organization.

4.1 Overview of Culture
Cultures have been meeting and mixing in Malaysia since the very beginning of its history. Culture consists of patterns of behavior acquired and transmitted within a society. Culture is learned, shared, transgenerational, an influence on perception, an adaptive.

In Malaysian organizations, it has demonstrated that Malaysian organizations culture and management styles are being characterized by national culture of Malaysia, and national culture of Malaysia has 3 principle as quidelines for ‘national cultures’. All of the element of national culture in the organiations can’t be far from these 3 principle.
In fact, according to Chew & Sharma (2005), Culture involves a set of cognitions that are shared by all or many members of a social unit; these cognitions are acquired through social learning and socialization processes, and they include values.

However, theorists and researchers have discussed four types of culture; bureaucratic culture, and market culture, and market culture. Means, culture is a community or the way in which people relate to each other (Rashid et al, 2004).

4.2 Definition of culture

A quick check of the dictionary yields no less than 12 different definitions of ‘culture,’ ranging across the arts, anthropology, biology, education, and sociology. However, in an organizational context, culture is the ‘behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular organization’. Where as culture sets the rules, manages the players, and doles out the consequiences. (Wortmann, 2008).

Culture also has been defined as a pattern of basic assumptions – invented, discovered, or developed by a given group as it learns to cope with the problems of external adaptation and internal integration – that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems (Chew & Sharma (2005), cited in Schein).

Meanwhile Gibson, Ivanevich, Donally & Konopaske (2006) cited in Schein, defined culture as ‘a pattern of basic assumptions-invented, discovered, or developed by a given group at it learns to cope with the problem of external adaptation and internal integration-that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be thought to new members as the corret way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems’.

Scheeres & Rhodes (2006) stresses culture, it is held, isgenerated through the assumptions, beliefs and values commonly held amongst members of the organization. Therefore, it is by now generally accepted that ‘culture’ is accorded a prime position in terms of how contemporary organizations are governed.

As overall, it is difficult to capture a relatively amorphous concept like culture in definition, but several have been proposed, e.g.,
‘The collection of values, beliefs, behaviours, customs, and attitudes that distinguish a society.’
‘A learned, shared, compelling, interrelated set of orientations for members of society.’
‘Shared meanings.’

4.3 National Culture.
A national culture is a set of values, attitudes, beliefs, and norms shared by majority of inhabitants of a country (Gibson et al , 2006). These become embodied in the laws and regulations of the society, as well as in the generally accepted norms of the country’s social system. People in a society learn what to notice and what not to notice, how to behave with each other, and how to handle responsibility, success, and filure. Most people are unaware of just how their culture has influences their values, attitudes and norms.

Malaysia has 3 principles as guidelines for ‘national culture’, which is:
1. The national Culture must be based on the indigenous (Malay) culture.
2. Suitable elements from the other cultures may be accepted as part of national cultures.
3. Islam is an important component in the moulding of the National culture.

National culture also plays a dominant role in shaping organizational culture. National culture refers to the culture specific to a national group. It is shaped by a number of factors unique to a country, some of which are the history and political background, social norms and customary beliefs that are passed on from generation to generation in a particular racial or ethnic group. National culture is entrenched deeply in everyday life and is relatively resistant to change. As such, these deeply entrenched values which people hole will subconsciously affect how they structure and carry out management practices, which is what organization culture is all about (Chew, & Sharma, 2005).

4.4 Organizational Culture

There is no single definition for organizational culture. The topic has been studied from a variety of perspectives ranging from disciplines such as anthropology and sociology, to the applied disciplines of organizational behavior, management science, and organizational communication. Some of the definitions are listed below (National Defense University).

Organizational culture is what the employees perceive and how this perception creates a pattern of beliefs, values, and expectations (Gibson et al, 2006). It is also defined as a system of shared meaning held by members that distinguishes the organization from other organizations (Robbins & Judge, 2007).

While Rashid, Sambasivan & Rahman (2004) has viewed organizational culture as holistic, historically determined, and socially constructed. The organizational culture can encourage and discourage effectiveness, depending on the nature of the values, beliefs, and norms.

Elements of organization culture may include ‘stated and unstated values’, ‘overt and implicit expectations for member behavior’, ‘customs and rituals’, stories and myths about the history of the group’, shop talk-typical language used in and about the group’, ‘climate-the feelings evoked by the way members interact with each other, with outsider, and with their environment, including he physical space they occupy’, and ‘metaphors and symbols-may be unconscious but can be found embodied in other cultural elements’ (Morgan, 1997).

In other words, organizational culture or corporate culture has been defined as the specific collection of values and norms that are shared by people and groups in an organization and that control the way they interact with each other and with stakeholders outside the organization.

Other than that, organizational culture is an elusive concept, which some defines as “the shared experiences, stories, beliefs, and norms (Kotler et. Al, 2006)). In the past 25 years, the concept of organizational culture has gained wide acceptance as a way to understand human systems. From an “open-system” persepective, each aspect of organizational culture can be seen as an important environmental condition affecting the system and its subsystems. The examination of organizational culture is also a valuable analytical tool in its own right.

4.5 The effect of culture

According to Williams, Rondeau & Francescutti (2007), Culture had a relatively week impact on the outcomes, where as: Human resources culture related positively to job satisfaction while bureaucratic culture related positively to patient commitment. Patient commitment, but not job satisfaction strongly and positively related to extra-role behavior.
People, as social animals, create such cultures and these cultures can have powerful effects, both positive and negative, on management decision making an d initiatives. Managers are well advised to understand their organization’s culture and take it into account in their daily activities and strategic deliberations.

Organizational culture also impacts knowledge management, organizational learning and ultimately the performance of the firm through the Collaborative culture. Therefore, culture need to be re-examined in light of its role in managing the overall organizational learning infrastructure. (Lopez, Peon & Ordas, 2004).
Mean while Scheeres & Rhodes (2006) stresses, the values were designed to influence people’s behaviour and self-concept in particular ways but the ritualized implementation through the training program did not amount to a form of hegemonic control. They also identified the values is the integrity, excellence, co-operation, reliability and responsiveness, change and respect.

Overall, cultures do change. Slowly, sometimes imperceptibly, attitudes and beliefs shift away from what were once non-negotiable certainties toward a completely new way of looking at things. In addition, Wortmann (2008) found that at a broad social level, consider how attitudes and beliefs towards slavery and civil rights have changed. These changes in attitudes and beliefs, of course, happen over time. Where as, on an economic level, look at attitudes towards globalization and shifting work around the world. On an organizational level, look at how we have changed our attitudes towards how and where the work gets done, and on an individual level, look at how we have changed the tools we use to get the job done.

Based on literature , showing that the era of BPM now, moving towards understanding an organization’s process from a business perspective , where as its focuses primarily on cross-functional process improvement. As we are speaking about cross-functional process management, though difficult a company must first start thinking the process way and unlearn some ideology around functional management. In addition, Rrobbins (2007) stated that job activities are designed around work teams, and teams members are encouraged to interact with people across functions and authority levels.
Meanwhile, culture literature showing that BPM success depends largely on a given organizations size, culture, political setup etc . In fact, according to Rosemann (2004) also stresses that culture as one of factors that has been use in order to measure an organisation’s BPM maturity. Where as, culture reflects the organisation’s attitude and appreciation of BPM , and the outcomes of his paper is the capability to identify alternative pathways to successful BPM.

Therefore , based on BPM maturity framework , done by Bruin (2005), this paper try to developed the framework of BPM and culture. It's shown that there are relationship between BPM and culture, where as the success of BPM depends on the culture, even though literature on BPM and culture, stresses there are many determinants of BPM success but culture is still one of the factors that has been identified by past research.


In short, BPM is the set of methods and tools in place to enhance the identification, implementation, execution, and measurement of organizational practices and activities. It emerged as a combination of business improvement techniques/approaches , and process enhancing technologies.

In addition, in future BPM changes to implementation and culture , by allow users direct access to BPMS tools, reduce over-customisation, and encourage tagging and collaboration

In general, the purpose of BPM should be at least about two things ;
Transformation; in how the business operates from a functional perspective to predominately process-driven operational model
Sustainability; of the transformation in all the dimension of the business
To achieve sustained transformation through BPM, companies must ensure that they take a holistic perspective on their business; to understand the inter relationships between the various business components and strive for alignment between them. Too often, BPM is too much about the ‘p’ and the relevance (and value) to the business. A key component, is that of the people-achieving a culture of process based management is the ultimate transformation and the sustaining legacy company strive for.

In fact, BPM is now the in thing , and it also is the era which we can called as the age of “ Business Process Transformation through rationalization”. However, BPM is not an easy discipline when it comes to execution in a corporate environment. This is because one of the determinant of BPM success is culture, where as culture is paramount for the long term success and sustainability of a company’s BPM program.

In addition, the concept of cultures is particularly important when attempting to manage organization-wide change. Culture is a pattern of assumptions that are invented, discovered, or developed to learn to cope with organizational life. Therefore, to be a successful BPM, organizations should concern about culture .

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