Explaining the Multiple Dimensions of BPM Using A 3D Model


Most BPM professionals agree that BPM covers much more than just processes. Other aspects and systems like IT, information management and risk management, to name only a few, also form part of the total picture. Many efforts are made to show how all aspects of the management of an organization are intertwined. In this Article I attempt   to explain BPM through a model that shows the wide variety of its aspects as a multidimensional approach. The model has been divided into twelve groups or aspects, each of which is discussed briefly before combining them into the complete model. Finally a 3D model is included as a mnemonic aid.

What is covered by BPM?

Contrary to BPM professionals, managers and personnel of organizations don`t know that BPM covers much more than just processes. Rather, they see BPM as an approach to managing a business through processes. The management of a business goes beyond the management of processes alone. Other aspects and systems like IT, information management and risk management, etc., also form part of the total picture.

In literature, many articles and books explain how different aspects of the management of a business are related and how they should be integrated with each other. Depending on the field of expertise of the authors, the integration within BPM will quite often only cover a specific aspect of management in particular. In many cases, the integration of processes with IT systems is discussed.

In explaining the path that led to the actual status of BPM, Harmon1 explains that in the past, processes have been built for three major reasons: the introduction of quality systems, for management reasons or for the introduction of IT technology. He states that in time, all three approaches were merged together in a combined BPM approach.

BPM System models such as the “ARIS house” show the relations that exist between processes, organization, data, applications, products and services. Processes are placed in the middle of the model since they are considered the backbone, the glue that binds all other aspects into one approach.

On the normative side, integration of different management systems has become a logical step. The international standards for quality (ISO 9001), environmental (ISO 14001), safety management (OHSAS 18001) and Risk Management (ISO31000), although defined separately, contain a common core and can easily be combined into one management system. Further additions towards corporate social responsibility (ISO 26001) and Porter`s “Creating Shared Value” approaches add the concept of stakeholder (other than customers and shareholder) to management systems.

Management models such as the one defined by the EFQM (European Foundation for Quality Management) try to structure many of these aspects into a combined model. On one side of the EFQM model the “enablers” include Leadership, People, Strategy, Partnerships and Resources. These enable the creation of products and services through processes. On the other side of the model, in addition to the customer results, are results effecting the employees, the society and the organization itself. The latter are called key results in this model.

So many efforts are made to show how all aspects of the management of an organization are intertwined. Due to the large variety of aspects, the task becomes tedious and complex. So it makes sense that most such efforts cover but a part of the total picture.

Trying to explain this complex structure of BPM to a non-professional would require a significant amount of time and effort2 . An “executive summary” is therefore required, covering the major aspects and the relationships among them.

In this Article I will attempt to explain the wide variety of aspects of BPM and the relationships among them. A “simple” 3D model is presented, that shows BPM as a multidimensional model. The model has been divided into twelve groups3 of aspects, each of which is related to other aspects either in their own groups or in groups close to them. Note also that the twelve groups are presented in four colours: the aspects related to management are in yellow; those related to production are in red;the resources in green, and the results in blue.

12 Aspects of BPM


LeadershipNobody will dispute the fact that trying to manage an organization without the proper leadership is a lost cause. Leadership shows the way for the organization and sets an example for all its members.

Leadership includes the definition of the organization`s mission (the purpose of the organization) and vision (the future state of the organization intended by its leaders).

In addition and for the purpose of management by example, leadership should include top management`s commitment to the organization and its ethical values, as well as the correct attitude of management towards change.


StrategyThe aforementioned  leadership will be translated into more tangible elements that include the policy of the organization, the planning of the activities and the objectives the organization wants to achieve. These objectives will range from those that are strategic for the organization to the operational objectives for processes, projects and products that have been devised from them.

Strategy is based on the needs and expectations, present and future, of all its stakeholders. Needs and expectations extend beyond customer requirements. The Strategy should also include the shareholders, the regulating authorities, society in general, the environment and the organization itself.

Another strategic aspect is the management of the risks of the organization, whether policy, ethics, products or services, processes and projects affect them.


OrganizationThe organization does not simply consist of organizational charts. Each element of the organizational chart has its role and responsibility. Defining the roles and responsibilities will not only define the attribution of activities within the processes and projects, but it will also connect the people within the organization to its objectives.

The roles and responsibilities, of course, need to be managed. Here the link is created between the policy and planning and the actual execution of the processes and projects. Decision making within the organization at any level of management will be defined in the governance of the organization. They need to be communicated properly throughout the organization. Good and unambiguous communication helps to get employees “on board”.

Process & Project

Process & ProjectProcesses and projects represent the activities of an organization. Here things are getting done; products and services are being created, either on a continuous basis in processes, or in a “one-shot” manner in a project. Both types of activities should systematically serve the common purpose of serving the stakeholders and achieving the organization`s objectives. These activities and their results need to be documented or registered for reference.

The activities, from planning, coordination, execution, follow-up to delivery follow the well-known Deming PDCA Cycle of Plan-Do-Check-Act. This cycle can occur at several levels within the activities. All of these levels lead in one way or another (treatment of non-compliant products, corrective and preventive actions, process improvement or reengineering) to continuous improvement of the way things are done.

Product & Service

Product & ServiceIn line with the needs and expectations of the different stakeholders, the specifications of the products and services of the organization are defined. These should transpose the needs of the stakeholders into the organization`s means and possibilities. Rare are organizations that can fulfill all of the customers` needs, even the most eccentric ones, without putting their existence in danger.

The specifications will be the input for the project of product or service design. The production will be described in the processes. Through the PDCA cycle production will be controlled and errors will be corrected.

It is understood that the safety of the products and services of an organization should include the safety aspects for use by the customers.


PersonnelAs often stated, the personnel of an organization is “its greatest asset”. It is however often also the greatest operational cost. So having the right people for the right job is extremely important. If, on top of that, an organization has the right people in the right frame of mind, a win-win situation occurs.

Personnel should be used in processes and projects for their skills and experience. Giving them a feeling of being a part of a “wonderful” organization will increase their motivation and satisfaction and will result in efficient and effective use of their abilities. The organization can create this attitude through leadership, management by example, a proper balance between responsibilities and empowerment, and acknowledgement of the personnel for efforts on behalf of the organization.


ResourcesApart from the personnel, other resources need to be provided to make the processes and projects work. Financial resources committed through its strategy, need to be used wisely. They will be used to acquire the right infrastructures, machines, systems and supplies for the execution of processes and projects.

Infrastructures, machines and IT systems should be chosen correctly so that the best technology is implemented to create the desired products and services for the stakeholders.

The choice will also involve training to enable the personnel to acquire the necessary  skills and experience.


InformationAnother kind of resource must be considered and controlled within the BPM approach: information. Although this resource is less tangible than those previously discussed, whether the information is in electronic format or hard copy, it needs to be managed.

The first kind of information concerns data. This consists of all information used in the organization for its management and production. In modern times, this information is managed through IT systems with software, database and servers4 .

The data can be stored in documents which themselves need to be managed, maintained and destroyed in a controlled manner.

And finally knowledge can also be considered as information within an organization. Maintaining and spreading that knowledge requires the proper knowledge transfer approach including capture, documentation and training.


PartnershipAn organization is part of a community, of a market, and of the world. So it should consider the impact its activities will have on its environment and the benefits it can get from this environment without endangering its competitive position.

It is, therefore, important for an organization to look for synergies with its stakeholders. Customers (present or future) and pressure groups should be consulted and informed about the organization`s activities, through  customer representative meetings or social media.

Partnerships should also be sought with suppliers. The mutual benefit of an organization and its suppliers can be established in long-term relationships and shared knowledge obtained through product development.


CustomerAn organization`s first purpose is to create products for its customers. Whether the results will be appreciated by those customers depends on different factors. It is therefore an absolute necessity to listen to the “voice of the customer” prior to designing the product. Doing so  will suggest the requirements and needs, not only for the product itself but for all other inherent characteristics such as quality, reliability, conformity and value of the products.

After the delivery of the product, an organization should listen again to the “voice of the customer” to make certain that the products actually meet the customers` specifications and needs. Measurements of customer satisfaction, after sales care and proper handling of complaints will then serve to improve the products in the next production cycle.


ResultsThe second purpose of an organization is to be able to continue making money for its shareholders. Therefore, the financial results of its operations should be healthy. The organization will look for opportunities, both internally and externally, to optimize income versus cost.

Therefore the organization will strive to make its internal   processes efficient and effective. Quality monitoring, continuous improvement and reengineering apply to these purposes.

Externally the organization will increase production and market share. This is made possible through positive customer results but also through healthy financial management and investments.


CollectivityAs explained before, the organization is a major player in its environment. The impact its activities have, goes beyond its customers, shareholders and partners. The organization has a responsibility to all its stakeholders. Stakeholders also include the employees, the neighbourhood community, in fact everybody that is possibly affected directly or indirectly by the organization`s  activities.

Over the last few years Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become an ever greater concern, leading to the ISO26000 norm. CSR not only involves the organization`s legal compliance, but also includes human rights, ecology, diversity, etc.

The DodeQhedron©.

As can be seen from the description of the twelve groups, a rather elaborate set of relationships exists. Mapping all these relationships would create a complicated graph with crossing and overlapping lines in all directions. A complicated graph, however, would be useful in explaining all aspects of BPM to non-experts. A model needs to be created to make BPM simply accessible to all members of an organization.

The DodeQhedron5 actually serves this purpose. It is a three-dimensional object (a dodecahedron or twelve-faced object) showing the different groups with their major aspects. Adjacent faces of the object are related in either direction. For example, leadership will define the strategy, which will influence processes and projects. These are mounted to create products or services leading to results for the customers.

The DodeQhedron not only depicts the different aspects of organizational management related to processes and BPM, but it also represents the multidimensional character of these relations. Unfortunately, one can only work in three dimensions (and even in two dimensions when writing an Article). However, when you build the next figure into a dodecahedron6 , the multiple dimensions of BPM will become visible.


BPM is more than processes or IT. BPM indeed includes, as stated By H. Smith and P. Fingar in “Business Process Management: The Third Wave” the “synthesis of software engineering & process engineering”. But it is far more than that.

In this Article, I attempted to address the large variety of aspects that go into a complete BPM model. Twelve groups of aspects have been described in some detail. Several relationships between these aspects have been mentioned. A complete picture of every aspect and relationship within BPM would however become too complex to use in an organization7 . A more convenient and concise model has been proposed in this Article, showing not only the variety of aspects but also the multidimensional nature of BPM. The resulting DodeQhedron can be used as a tool in helping an organization acquire a complete and integrated BPM system and will also give the BPM manager a bit of fun in constructing it. 

About the Author

Bruno Vanhecke obtained his PhD in Physics in 1994 and a Degree in Management in 1997. Working in Quality and Processes for nearly two decades, he helped a variety of small, medium and large organizations, both national and international, in establishing and maintaining their Business Process Management Systems. He obtained Quality System certifications under both international and sector specific standards.


1 Paul Harmon, The Scope and Evolution of Business Process Management, Handbook on Business Process Management, Springer Verlag.

2 The full explanation of the multiple dimensions of BPM can easily fill an MBA course.

3 The choice of twelve groups serves the purpose of making the actual 3D model presented here. Other groupings are of course possible but can`t necessarily be represented in 3D.

4 The complete structure of data and document management is not discussed in this article, so allow me to be overly concise in this section.

5 This object was originally created several years ago to show the aspects related to the quality of an organisation and was therefore called the DodeQhedron© with Q for Quality. Although the content and the categorisation of the elements has changed over the years to stress the BPM aspects of processes, the name remained unchanged.

6 By gluing the parts together in the order indicated on the tabs

7 Merely by the lack of time to go into the details.