Lean and Business Process Management

by Grant HEnson

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The concept of Lean has become an integral part of the business lexicon. Introduced in the seminal 1990 work "The Machine That Changed The World: The Story of Lean Production" by James P. Womack, Daniel T. Jones, and Daniel Roos, Lean has sparked a broader interest in process change and fostered the development of complementary perspectives, including the notion of process maturity.

Process Maturity

Process maturity offers an insightful perspective on how organizations tend to evolve as they acquire more knowledge about processes and develop capabilities. The Software Engineering Institute's (SEI) Capability Maturity Model (CMM) provides a comprehensive overview of the typical process journey embarked upon by most organizations.

Research and Assessments

Research and assessments have indicated that organizations tend to spend years developing their process capabilities, generally following a consistent sequence of steps. For instance, companies new to the concept of process usually begin by focusing on core processes within specific departments. Once they gain experience and achieve some level of success in redesigning these processes, they become equipped to understand broader processes that cut across departmental boundaries, thereby defining the organization as a whole.

Robust Process Measurement Systems

As organizations garner more experience in process change, they begin to implement robust process measurement systems and assign managers to oversee processes. The creation of these measurement systems signifies a critical milestone in an organization's process maturity journey.

Enterprise-wide Systems

However, the journey doesn't stop there. As organizations mature further, they progress to the development of enterprise-wide systems where processes are measured and managed holistically. In such advanced stages, every employee within the organization understands how their work fits into the overarching enterprise system.

Lean and BPM

Lean and Business Process Management (BPM) both play pivotal roles in this journey towards process maturity. Lean principles provide the methodologies for streamlining processes and eliminating waste, while BPM offers the tools and frameworks for managing, optimizing, and aligning these processes with business objectives.


The journey of Lean and BPM is an ongoing one, continually evolving through stages of process maturity. From focusing on core processes to implementing enterprise-wide systems, organizations consistently learn and adapt, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and driving long-term success.

Here are some additional details about Lean and BPM:

  • Lean is a set of principles and practices that seeks to eliminate waste and inefficiency from processes. It is based on the idea that any activity that does not add value to the customer is waste. Lean principles can be applied to any type of process, from manufacturing to customer service.
  • BPM is a discipline that focuses on the design, execution, monitoring, and optimization of business processes. BPM tools and techniques can help organizations to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency of their processes.

By combining the principles of Lean and BPM, organizations can achieve significant improvements in their business processes. This can lead to reduced costs, improved customer satisfaction, and increased competitive advantage.

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