Is your Organizational Culture Fit for Business Process Management?

by Grant HEnson

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Embark on a BPM journey, and you will soon discover that there is more to it than just process modeling, defining metrics, and setting up support systems. While these elements lay the groundwork, they alone are not enough to break down departmental silos or guarantee that processes run smoothly. The key to BPM success often lies in fostering an organizational culture that supports the maintenance and efficiency of business processes.

The Role of Organizational Culture

Both practitioners and academics have underscored the importance of organizational culture in successful BPM implementations. An organization with a culture that supports BPM can be a powerful ally, facilitating efficient and effective business processes. However, a culture that is resistant to change can become a barrier to BPM success.

The Evolving Understanding of BPM

Traditionally, BPM has focused predominantly on technology and methodology. However, recent developments have underscored the need for a more holistic understanding. For example, the BPM maturity model developed by Rosemann and de Bruin identifies strategic alignment, governance, people, and culture as core BPM factors.

The BPM-Culture-Model

In 2011, vom Brocke & Sinnl developed the BPM-Culture-Model. The model helps organizations better understand the different notions of culture in a BPM context:

  • Shared beliefs and values: These are the guiding principles that shape how people think and behave in an organization. For example, an organization that values customer service is more likely to have processes that are designed to put the customer first.
  • Norms and behaviors: These are the observable ways in which people behave in an organization. For example, an organization with a culture of continuous improvement is more likely to have employees who are constantly looking for ways to improve their processes.
  • Artifacts: These are the physical representations of culture, such as the organization's values statement, its dress code, or its physical workspace.

Determining Cultural Compatibility

Understanding the cultural landscape of an organization is critical to determining its compatibility with a BPM approach. One tool that has been developed to help organizations do this is the BPM Cultural Fitness Assessment Tool. This tool helps organizations identify whether their existing culture supports or hinders a BPM approach.

Case Studies of Cultural Compatibility and BPM

Here are some case studies of organizations that have successfully implemented BPM by understanding and adapting to their organizational culture:

  • Case Study 1: A large insurance company was struggling to process claims efficiently. The company's culture was siloed, with each department responsible for its own piece of the process. This led to delays and errors. The company implemented a BPM approach that required cross-functional collaboration. The new culture of collaboration led to significant improvements in claim processing time and accuracy.
  • Case Study 2: A small manufacturing company was struggling to meet customer demand. The company's culture was hierarchical, with decision-making concentrated at the top. This led to slow decision-making and a lack of agility. The company implemented a BPM approach that gave employees more autonomy to make decisions. The new culture of empowerment led to faster decision-making and a more agile organization.


The relationship between BPM and culture is a two-way street. Culture influences the success of BPM, and the implementation of BPM can also lead to cultural changes within the organization. Therefore, understanding and adapting the organization's culture can be a critical success factor in BPM.

Here are some additional tips for ensuring that your BPM initiative is successful:

  • Get buy-in from senior leadership. BPM is a complex undertaking that requires the support of senior leadership. Without this support, it is unlikely to be successful.
  • Involve employees in the process. BPM is most successful when employees are involved in the process from the beginning. This helps to ensure that the new processes are aligned with the needs of the employees and that they are committed to making the initiative a success.
  • Communicate the benefits of BPM. It is important to communicate the benefits of BPM to employees throughout the organization. This will help to ensure that they are motivated to support the initiative.
  • Measure and track progress. It is important to measure and track the progress of the BPM initiative. This will help to identify areas that need improvement and to ensure that the initiative is on track to achieve its goals.

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