Bergsmann's picture

Although business processes have from the beginning always been thought of as starting at the customer and ending at the customer, in pratical BMP in companies, business processes have in most cases been defined as functional sub processes. So we frequently find in process maps "processes" like sales processes, procurement processes, production processes and so on. In many cases there is even a mix up with company functions, such as sales, procurement, materials management or accounting.

But all these functions or functionally defined processes are just part of a value chain to create a service or product for a customer, for which they need to fit together. The functional process approach for sure achieved quite some results in companies: process awareness has increased, functional subprocesses have been improved and process management is accpeted as a positive contribution to companies' performance. However, to achieve further value added and to develop process management to the next level, it is now required to make a step from this partial process view to a real end-to-end perspective.

This means, to define processes - as it was originally meant - starting with the demand of the customer and ending only with the delivery of the service or product to him and the finishing of all related activities of the respective customer case. Only then do we get an integrated value chain that shows the real service creation for the customer. If applied consequently to the processes, this will start with a different design of the process map on the top. A so designed process map will then show what a company does, how it does it and with which vertical integration and horizontal diversification. Different from most current process maps in companies that are a mere enumeration of elements to somehow structure the multitude of detailed process models, this would lead to a new and different picture on the companies showing ther value chain and their busienss model. With such an approach the process maps show more and different things than the org chart - they show a value creation scheme as e.g. demanded by Andrew Spanyi or Geary Rummler.

In consequence, such an end-to-end approach will also imply significant changes for the understanding of process management in general:

- if processes are defined end-to-end, the so-called 90°-shift of the organization does not make sense anymore. Coming from an end-to-end approach, process management cannot be seen as an alternative to the traditional organizational structure and in particular to the functional organisation but is just an element in organizational design, just as the line system, structural units, staff functions, functions (like e.g. shared services) and so on.

- as such an organization element, process management can, in particular, contribute to the integration of the service creation in companies, to their flexibility to adapt to changes as well as to their management control, where classical P&L and cost reports are not sufficient to manage critical proceses. Such, process management cannot be seen as a wonder cure for every pain in the company but as a focused organizational instrument to support certain goals of a company's organization.

- thirdly, it becomes necessary to focus on the aspect of management in process management again: if working with end-to end processses, one cannot improve all processes continuously all the time. Actually, coming from a management perspective, management has never meant to do all things all the time but the essential things at the right time. In this sense, the end-to-end perspective supports to establish BPM as a real management approach.

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For more information see:

Stefan BERGSMANN (2011): End-to-End-Geschäftsprozessmanagement: Organisationselement - Integrationsinstrument - Managementansatz, Springer WienNewYork, Wien.