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Process orientation as prerequisite for process management

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Process orientation as prerequisite for process management
All over the world, one can observe an economic and societal restructuring. A dynamic business environment
and the pressure for firms to increase their competency is forcing enterprise to develop new abilities. Typically,
firms adapt to a new environment by following a learning-process to gain efficiency and flexibility. To increase their
competitiveness, many enterprises reorganize their systems and structures. They apply one of the many “salvation
plans”, such as “Business Process Reengineering”, “Business Process Design”, “Business Process Optimizing”, Work
Flow Management”, “Business Modeling” or “Business Process Oriented Organizational Set-up”, just to name of
few of them. The choice of methods is good, however careful examination of each of these methods reveals that they
all are based on the same central foundation. The focus is on identifying business processes and modeling them.
They have a common process orientation.
Process orientation is booming in information systems, and has also become an important basic component in
many organizations. Indeed, process thinking has a long tradition in business administration. The innovation in
process orientation is in the expanded context and in the use of computer software. Business processes can be
analyzed in their entirety throughout the organization, and this analysis is shaped and steered with the support of
process modeling software. Process models document the business processes and support their systematic analysis.
As a result of this analysis, some processes can be implemented electronically using specialized software, variously
know as Work Processing Systems, Workflow Management Systems, and Business Engineering Tools.
Process orientation, as it is understood today, is strongly connected with strategic thinking and organizational
development (OD). Porter's value chain, probably the most well known of the general process models, is a highly
useful tool for strategic thinking.
Process orientation gained considerable additional attention with the rise of the Business Process Reengineering
(BPR). The work on BPR of a few American authors (e.g. Hammer and Champy 1993, Davenport and Short 1990,
Davenport 1993) started a worldwide trend, moved the discussion of processes in to the center of much
organizational thinking about efficiency. Organization sought to use BPR to achieve reduce the complexity of
internal operations and more efficiently achieve organizational goals.
To achieve the promise of BPR of simplifying organizational processes, it is of crucial to have an exact and
thorough modeling of the targeted business processes. Process modeling is a methodology that explicitly or
implicitly helps an enterprise to:
• understand the nature of its various processes (business processes, service processes etc.)
• recognize the resources necessary for the execution of each process
• rearrange the system of processes and resources (i.e. process orientation)
• to permanently improve processes
In general, an improvement in process can be reached through simplifying and standardizing the elements of a
process and their relationship to each other. Through an automation of a chain of activity, for example, through
new technology and information systems, the efficiency of the processes can often be increased. Also it is often
possible to achieve efficiency gains by restructuring single parts of an enterprise. For example, by changing the
order of the activities of an internal process or the sequencing of the procedures of a process.
The traditional organization is orientated around functions, hierarchies, competencies, departments, capacities
and so forth. This leads in times of market change and competition to a critical disadvantage due to inflexibility,
slow adaptation, and a loss of customer focus. Process orientation is a solution to these problems because it pays
attention to products, value chains, and process connections. The goal is to ensure the processes are performed
efficiently and effectively irrespective of organizational boundaries.
Exhibit 17: Process oriented enterprise
Process orientation is a philosophy of business, it is more than a methodology, and it implies no accepted
actions of a single or connected system. However, methods and concepts have been developed, founded on process
orientations, that have been widely adopted. As well as BPR, other names for this philosophy of business include
Lean Management, Total Quality Management (TQM), and Process Cost Calculation. In the classical hierarchical
organization, process management performs operates in parallel and complements the functional structure. A
fundamental alteration of the organization's structure is not necessary. Finally, it is important to point out that
process orientation should co-exist with other management approaches and management science applications.

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