To understand the importance of the study, the breakdown of the main terms mentioned in the article would assist us to better grasp the relevance of the author's research by firstly defining the terms BPM, CSF and Process.
Business Process Management: According to Zairi (1997), BPM is the ability to consistently enhance integral activities like manufacturing, communication as well as other vital company operations, with the use of a procedure which is well structured. These integral activities mentioned are constantly carried out on a day to day basis with an aim to either deliver values to consumer or achieving objectives/goals or targets set out by an organization.
Critical Success Factors: These factors according to Bocij (2002) are factors that help determine and enable one accurately identify and measure the productivity as well as the effectiveness of various areas within an organization. They tell one what an organisations exact information needs are and are present within almost all areas of business organisations. They inform organisation's what should or should not be done as well as the correct way to do it.
BPMs Importance and relevance to Information Systems
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To shed light on the importance of BPM Kanji (1995) has proposed that almost all activities which are carried out within an organization are considered processes. A hindrance to the ability of a customer to achieve satisfaction is created when just a functional approach is used, which according to Edson and Shannahan (1991) leads to poor communication and noise. So to fix this problem, Mc Adam (1996) tells us an opposite effect is produced when the approach becomes process based, the focus on the customer is improved and managerial barriers caused by conventional functions are eliminated.
Zairi (1997) proposes that a process is simply the conversion of input into an output and comprises of the variety of ways the resources possessed by organizations are used reliably, consistently and repeatedly in order to arrive at its set targets, goals and objectives.
Davenport (1993) states that the process is a structure where the provision of value to customers is carried out by organisations by any means possible because the customer's satisfaction is important and their needs have to be met for the benefit of the customers and organization.
Thus, what the Author tries to achieve is to show theoretically backed measures to determine the efficiency with which dynamically co-ordinated set of processes are enhanced and improved. Also from the breakdown of the terms, it is clearer to see how this authors attempt to create a theoretical foundation defining the CSF's of BPM making use of theories is in-fact important and relevant to IS most especially IS within business organizations where it would be used mainly as a major platform for the reduction in failure and increased productivity leading to a firms competitive edge. This is further backed up by an article by Ryan (2009) who states BPM's implementation in an organization is vital because it provides insight and enables one to know exactly what is gong on in an organisation and tell us where improvement is most likely required, Ideal for preventing fraudulent activities, auditing and quality assurance especially in the banking sector where this case study was carried out.
Although the concept of BPM might seem relatively new, the processes have always been carried out in organisations for a long time without them realizing because many terms like Business Process Re-engineering, Business Performance Management have been used in the early 1990's to describe this idea of BPM. Which according to Dale, Elkjaer, Vanderwiele and Williams, (2001) who believe the previously proposed ideas are simply repackaged in a new context.
Therefore, From a critical view point, the article attempts to address and pinpoint critical success factors of BPM by using the Contingency, Task technology Fit and Dynamic Capability theory may be relatively new but the actual concept and idea of BPM has been in existence and from other academic journals and text books BPM has been alternatively termed BPR, WFM etc all with a similar definition but slightly different meanings.
RESEARCH PROBLEMS AND SIGNIFICANCE
In the paper one can observe a list of problems which mostly deal with the theoretical void present in the conceptualisation of the BPM's definition. Previous attempts have been made to identify CSF of BPM and almost all of them lacked a theoretical structure which partially renders BPM devoid of any sound theoretical undertone or backing whatsoever. This is supported by Karim,Somers, and Bhahacherjee (2007) as well as Meleo and Pidd(2000) who state the BPM continues to be atheoretcal in nature. This makes classification and comparative studies quite difficult.
Always on Time
Marked to Standard
This difficulty in comparing and classifying encountered is evident in the article because we see the purpose of the article and the points the author is trying to achieve sometimes look cluttered and disorganized.
Also, most recent reviews by Abdolvand, Albadvi and Ferdowsi (2008) show that there are several failures in BPM implementation in projects started by companies where a large percentage of BPM have failed despite large amounts spent and invested. Leading to some BPM projects being viewed as a risky venture.
No clear and proper definition of the success of BPM categorizing the actual success of BPM implementation in organizations which varies from organization to organization, also noted by Bandrara, Gable and Roseman (2005) who state little empirical studies into success factors were present greatly impeding the study.
Few empirical research applications into the success of properly implemented BPM's which could solidify and cement the BPM concept could be a problem hindering progress of the study.
Newell,Swan and Galliers (2000) and Terziovski, Fitzpatrick and O'Neil (2003) observed that papers studied from BPM had no theory which was new and the BPM concept remained somewhat stagnant in nature as present ideas of BPM were just based into the ideas already known from previous studies.
(Grant 2002) proposes that when a strategic execution by a firm is considered, when carrying out any of the above aspects with regard to fit is done in isolation or on its own, poor results would be derived in an organization.
Thus the authors' combination of the three theories would help in addressing various research questions that are hard to analyze within organizations by the use of a single theoretical structure or framework. The CSF highlighted in the article uses the concept of Fit. A fit between the business environment and process, proper organization and fit between tasks within business process of organization and IT.
Simply put in order for the BPM concepts of the article to make sense the three theories must be interwoven with the aim of increased optimization and improvement within the organisation.
CONTRIBUTIONS AND ORIGINALITY
From the paper one can observe that over the years, what makes up the success of business process management has eluded many researchers especially with respect to the inclusion of a theoretical framework to further enhance the understanding of the BPM concept and what makes it successful in one organization as opposed to the other.
Those few who have tried to provide theoretical backing have failed so the result is that we see similar definitions of BPM recycled over the years without strong theoretical foundation because one can clearly see that what will make the implementation of BPM in Company Y successful is not what will make BPM implementation successful when started in company Z. one cannot achieve this without theory.
This critiqued article contributes a much needed theoretical foundation from which success as well as failure of the BPM approach implemented in organization.
The author provides a framework concept deduced from a blend of three deeply embedded theories namely the Contingency, Dynamic capabilities theory and Task technology fit theories.
The author creatively links all three theories together to arrive at the successfulness of the BPM practice by using a case study carried out in a bank.
The author proposes that each theory should not be viewed individually on its own but from collectively linked vantage point.
As Further in this critical review of the authors work we shall see how he achieves this and the important theoretical underpinnings of each proposed theory which he proposed to define CSF's success factors as well as if it is important to be implemented in the first place.
From Rankema and Berghout (1997), these linkages in theory could be essential in determining the need for much investment of cash in information technology which has been questioned over the years due to its exorbitant costs. It is quite challenging, for one mistake can cost an organization fortunes.
The author achieves a much needed theoretically enforced explanation of identifying CSF's using three theories which would help on making further sense of BPM, what makes it successful and moving out of the stagnant phase where it presently seems to lie in IT.
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The author begins the article with an aim to enhance the understanding of the concept of business process management and the factors which enable us term the BPM implementation the successful and he sets to achieve this by the use of three theories; The contingency theory, Dynamic capability theory and Task technology fit theory.
In the paper the three theories are linked together with the proposition that each theory must not be viewed individually in isolation by itself but must be coupled and delivered collectively by linking them together to address the successfulness of BPM. To understand what the author is doing and why the three theories in particular were selected in the first place by the author, the theories must firstly be explained and presented accordingly.
The Contingency Theory : Fielder (1964) explains the contingency theory to be one where there are numerous or multiple methods of organizing and not just one best way. This is also applied to leadership as well, he also states simply that whatever the chosen method of organization or leading that is effective in certain scenarios/settings that same method when applied in another scenario might not be equally effective and may even give a totally negative effect. Therefore according to Fielder (1964) the optimal organizational/leadership style is contingent upon various internal and external constraints.
So with the theory, Fielder (1964) helps us see that there is actually not only one method of effecting things in an environment an organizations design as well as sub systems. Therefore the organisations needs depend on a proper design or management and the relevance of tasks to be implemented. Livari (1992) proposed their is vital importance for a fit or link with the environment as well as organisations to be effective. Sousa and Voss (2008) show a diversion of focus away from how BPM value is justified as well as other similar methods to the better comprehension of condition in context a determinant of effectiveness. Success or failure depends on the organizations engaged in the BPM's characteristics.
The author shows there is a need for careful study and aligning BPMs properly because it would be detrimental to have a preconceived notion that what could work well in one organisation would not work well in another if contingencies are not put not consideration.
Dynamic Capabilities Theory: This according to Helfat, Finklestein and Mitchells definition (2006), refers to the capacity of an organization to broaden, create and adjust with purpose a resource base in relation to process in a swiftly fluctuating environment. From the article, Dynamic capabilities is mainly about improvement and continuity in an environment which is rapidly moving and how well it can set out to achieve this with the objective of achieving long term competitive advantage.
Also according to Wade and Hulland (2000) IS resources can apply DC characteristics helping those firms in forms in fast paced/ changing environments. So regardless of the fact that IS resources do not optimally achieve competitive advantage, it is still important in the long term in uncertain and unpredictable scenarios by the adjustment and creation of resources as time goes on.
The paper speaks of consistency in efforts of organizations and a constant development in a business process this is where a link with contingency theory seems to lie which according to the paper is required for a fiting with both contingency and Dynamic capability theory.
Task Technology Fit: From TTF we can find reasons for the failures of investments in information technology by spreading the ideas of TTF into organizational levels and the performance of an organization would be positively influenced by IT if there is a connection with business processess.
RESEARCH METHODS ADOPTED
The author used a qualitative means of research by using a case study which attempts to show the combination of the three theories which would effectively pin-point the critical success factors of the bank in the paper. According to Nikolaidou (2001) who states the banks are a good industry to research on because it is a place filled with competition with a strong need for consistent improvement in all activities that take place.
An outline of the methods used for the research study
Case study protocols were prepared during the research
Semi structured interviews and series of questioning were carried out on a number of staff under sky bank employment
Research questions were asked to gain knowledge which would assist in the identification of Processes that occur in the bank.
Business process models were drawn up from a compilation of opinions and comments provided during the questioning of employees.
Creation of a team comprising of staff from all departmental levels to gain information of bank processes and gather intel for validation of BPM proposal.
Workshops were also conducted where the team improved the list of business process and approval and confirmation of identified CSF's .
Presentation and approval of the BPM concept by management and other staff, leading to the discovery bank processes that add customer value and strategic process devoid of customer value.
At some point the software IGrafx process software was implemented to design and prepare a business process model.
Description of methods
During the research carried out in the bank we can observe from the article that the method of research implemented was to apply a case study method involving qualitative research for collecting and analysing data. There was a selection of a team of Managerial level staff from the chosen bank who attended workshops and the main duties of the managers and staff involved was to fine-tune lists of identified processes as well as BPM concepts proposed after value creating non-value creating categories of processes were produced.
Semi-structured interviews took place by asking questions and this was to aid in the model process design. When preparing the models the IGrafx process software was also used and according to Climent (2009), iGrafx is a tool used to better understand business processes and spotting discrepancies in identified processes.
Opinions and comments where provided by employees on models leading to further corrections then a final approval was done by the task executers and middle management on close examination of proposed models.
Analysing the Methods suitability for the study
From a close and critical observation, one could agree that this is a suitable method for research but after a critical look at the study method applied, quite a number of problems were in-fact encountered than applicable solutions in the case study. The problems which were mostly due to human factor, where it was observed that some employers did not want to take part in the research study or approve of the business process models proposed.
In comparison with a further external review of a much similar article, according to Sentin( 2008) where a case study used to identify and implement BPM was carried out in Embrapa Brazillian Agricultural Research Corporation (EBARC) in Sao Paulo of Brazil. By using very similar methods like the ones adopted in the critiqued article, here, in the EBARC, employees were also interviewed by unstructured means in an effort to identify and implement BMP in the Brazilian Public research centre. With an aim to also increase efficiency, create value and changing from the functional based approach to a more process based approach.
This similar applied method in the Embrapa Brazillian Agricultural Research Corporation case study above also had its shortcomings, where according to sentanin (2008) after all processes were identified, problems arose due to the employees who did not accept BPM's implementation because they failed to understand it, choosing to consistently use the same functional activities.
A question now arises as to why the author failed to design or provide an accurate diagrammatical model to depict his recommended hypothetical structure of the critical success factors identified in the article; this would have made his proposed concept clearer. When compared with Sentanin's (2008) model figure of the Embrapa Research Centre model BPM structural framework.