The Critical Success Factors Of Business Process Management Commerce Essay


According to Zairis definition, BPM is the ability to consistently enhance integral activities within vital company operations, with the use of a procedure which is well structured. From this, determining the best possible way to identify the critical success factors by a combination of three theories; contingency theory, dynamic capability and Task Technology Fit as attempted by the author Trkman (2010) is critiqued to effectively examine its usefulness and relevance to the field of IS and importance to IS within organisations. This critical analysis also looks closely at the proposed three theories and the linkages applied to the financial institution which would deduce the factors that would make the organisation successful. The limitations in the authors approach were highlighted and further analysed to find best possible solutions if any, for future review or implementation as well as appropriate comparison made with other works and case studies from other researchers done in the course of this critique.


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The main contribution of this paper is a categorical criticism of the authors Trkman (2010)s approach and methodology in identifying the critical success factors of business process management and his choice of organisation within a financial institution (Sky bank) where his case study was carried out. From further research we see that the whole concept of BPM explained by Zairi (1997) is the ability to consistently enhance integral activities within vital company or organizational operations, with the use of a procedure which is well defined. Trkmans (2010) methodologies are critiqued to see the studys relevance and an exposure of the problems which hindered his research was highlighted reason being there is a long lists of problems both with the theoretical approach used by the author towards BPM implementation as well as limitations encountered during his research, all of which were presented. For instance the contingency theory concept of fit in the article chosen was heavily criticized by Drazin and Van de Ven (1985) who disagrees with this fit ideology arguing the presumption of fit fails to consider styles and trends that managers practice by their duplicating what other similar firms and organization do just because it appears to work for them regardless of the fact a better solution could be elsewhere. Therefore the venture of using such theories to find Critical success factors needs a careful study to see if it is infact a logical step to take in IS for enhancing vital company processes and creating theoretical foundations to evolve the vague recycled BPM concept which most organisations seem to avoid regardless of the benefits it promises to provide.


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 authors 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 et al (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 organisations what should or should not be done as well as the correct way to do it.

BPMs relevance & Importance to Information Systems

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. 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 institutions are used reliably, consistently to arrive at set targets, goals and objectives.

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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 CSFs 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 Ko (2009) who states BPMs 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.

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 1990s 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 new contexts.

Therefore, from a critical view point, the articles attempts 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.


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) see also Melao and Pidd (2000) who state the BPM continues to be atheoretcal in nature. This makes classification and comparative studies quite difficult.

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.

Newell, Swan and Galliers (2000) and Terziovski, Fitzpatrick and ONeil (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 could 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.


This critiqued article attempt to contribute a much needed original and theoretical foundation from which success as well as failure of the BPM approach implemented in organizations can be pin-pointed.

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 CSFs success factors as well as if it is important to be implemented in the first place.

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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 Trkman (2010) sets to term the BPM implementation by the use of three theories; the Contingency theory, Dynamic capability theory and Task technology fit theory. To understand what the author is doing and why the three theories in particular were selected in the first place, the theories must firstly be explained and presented accordingly.

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. Livari (1992) contends there is a crucial importance for a fit or link with the environment as well as organisations to be effectual.

Drazin and Van de Ven (1985) critiqued this fit which is always mentioned in this contingency theory because they argue with a question, which was what exactly is the cause of this mentioned fit? As the contingency theory assumes that when an organization and its environment possess correlating traits, a fit is produced as a result.

So, Drazin and Van de Ven (1985) further argue stating that the presumption of fit in this theory fails to consider styles and trends that managers practice by their copying what other similar firms and organization do just because it appears to work for them regardless of the fact a better solution may infact lie else where.

Thus Drazin and Van de Ven (1985) state this correlation would best not be described as fit but as selection. Schoonhoven (1981) also disputes the idea that contingency theory is infact a theory at all.

According to Betts (2003) in his article which also proposes the approach of this theory seems incomprehensible failing to fully explain the relationships and fit concept, its approach seems risky, complicated, hard to implement and hardly accepted by organizations because of lack of clarity in how it would be, if applied to current scenarios in an organization.

Dynamic Capabilities Theory: This according to Helfat, Finklestein and Mitchells (2006), definition 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 to achieve long term competitive advantage.

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 processes.


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.

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.

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 CSFs .

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.

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 employees 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 Sentanin( 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, predicaments arose due to the employees who did not accept BPMs implementation because they failed to understand it, choosing to consistently use the same functional activities.

Other studies by Neubauer,T (2009) used The Status Quo Process Management (SQPM) which appears to be a much better option in recognizing process functions within organizations who use of BPM as in an actual survey carried out with empirical viewpoint in three European financial institutions in 2006 and effectively enabled a fair comparison of firms standing against competitors.

In Neubauer,T (2009)s article SQPM applies a much more empirical or statistical form of approach attempted to scrutinize links with process and organisational strategy within IT realm in business and consequently, Status Quo Process Management(SQPM) approach has a strong curiosity as to what actually makes organizations tick as well as why certain processes take place because it appears to introduce a much more strong and indepth set of questions presented to employees unlike Trikman (2010)s method, SQPM Has a stronger overview of diverse financial organisations large in size because it was implemented in a number of other European countries.

Neubauer,T (2009) established a more Statistical and exponential means for evaluating Processes implemented and carried out from tests methods known as the T- Test evaluations of appropriate confidence levels, represented in percentage form. Also Used balance score cards taking demographics into consideration of and also a more deeper sampling exercise and questioning process emanated from this method targeted at various industries, online questioners over the internet was used as well as internet email accounts and tele-phones.

Six sigma approach: Pande and Holpp (2001) and Hammer (2002) see Six sigma approach as an appropriate means to measure problem reduction of BPM, empathizing and looking after customer needs to further improve processes in business, team building as well as aligning strategy for important task objectives.

Total quality management: Conceptual presentation of methods, were all available resources are used to continuously improve processes. Hakes (1991).


Strategic alignment is dependent on extensive economic variable, structure of the industry, market, demand and supply and the characteristics of the organisation Hoffer (1975) and the inability to properly connect projects from BPM and strategy was mainly the reason for failure Bandara, Indulska, Chong & Sadiq, (2007)

The unwillingness to spend on change in the organisation comes from deficiency in steady and efficient documentation and tracking the sort and degree of its impact Lee & Ahn (2008) and a process management department should create an opening for customer response to stimulate steady betterment.

Functional expertise duplication and operational complexity increment pose a potential quagmire for organising a process, this might lead to acceleration of cost, emanation of horizontal silos, discrepancy in the delivery of operational decisions between processes and clampdown of the productivity Silvestro & Westley (2002)

A process owner should be suitable and ascertained for all processes, and should have the sole task of analysing performance and for steady betterment Lee & Dale, (1998) and should be left with the task for designing and training of employees Hammer & Stanton (1999) with a middle management to help.

Incorporating of diverse inherent characteristics and process-oriented amelioration approaches needs to be designed in a system Davenport & Stoddard (1994) where the Heads and the middle managers should be the crucial support elements and driving force Salvolainen (1999)

A proper and careful analysis should be carried out on the cost-benefit to evaluate the economic practicability of information, to get top managers and financial succour Hur, Mabert & Hartley (2007) and to guarantee the attainment of the benefits. Love, Iran, Standing, Lin & Burn (2005)

Automation of business process modelling ameliorate the performance of business activities and make possible broad supervision of enterprises and management Nikolaidou et al ( 2001)

Proper alignment of process in an organisation that embrace continuous change and its reassure adjustability and modification of its foundation processes with a valued blend of IT will bring about competitive advantage this is the main implication. From Gibb, Buchanam & Shah (2006)s proposal we see the elimination of functional silos in process organisation paves way for effectual flow of information, improved value generation and effective development of the system Investing in IT suitable for the business process amplifies admissible strategic advantage. This mean that the company will be able to work effectively as an organisation, be able to satisfy there customer needs, save cost and as well be profitable if implemented the right way.


Karim et al (2007) noted that in spite of meaningful financial endowment vested into the field of information technology, a large number of firms cannot tap into and obtain substantial gain which is caused by their lack of experience to competently utilize information technology into the business approach.

Customers misunderstand the approach towards business processes because most banks and companies portray a tradition that is incompatible with the drive to please them. Peppard (2000)

Certain issues emanated from the low encouragement of the use of information technology. A common illustration is a credit card confirmation processing. The book keeper/cashier has to confirm the credit map which is noted on paper since the aggregate credit ranking of the customer is not seen in the information systems. Trkman (2010)

Different common issues were analyzed in the dimension of the case study. For instance client bank correspondence like posting out account statements, and inadequate assistance in various duties which is organized by hand. Technology helps to ease out the stress of manual labour. Trkman (2010)

Past educating sessions did not yield positive returns because of absence of encouragements amongst the workers. Trkman (2010)

This research study clearly gives an incomplete result to the continuous inquisition of the assessment of information technologys contributions which is posed as an issue for the past forty years. Renkema & Berghout (1997).

Another challenge is an inquiry on the growth on how resistant information systems will react to adjustments or changes within its ever changing surroundings. Trkman (2010).


The concept of this article is vague and research approach and probably be less concentrated on the private sector and more on the public sector. Thomas et al (2002) noted that very little occurrence has been recorded on the use of business process management in public or urban regions in developing countries.

A question now arises as to why the author Trkman (2010), 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 Sentanins (2008) model figure of the Embrapa Research Centre model BPM structural framework. Thomas et al (2008) used the integrated process management model to show the connection between information systems and its business approach.

More exponential/empirical approach should be carried out such as SQBPM, TQM and others which appear to give more clearer and favourable results.


From all vantage points and research done into this critique of Trkman(2010)s article we see his attempt 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 question as to whether it is a logical approach to take is questioned because there still seem to be loopholes to the research used, we observe the BPM concept is lacking a proper clarity in its theoretical contribution Melao and Pidd (2000), we also observed little quantitative as well as empirical research Bandrara, Gable and Roseman (2005) in previous papers and the scrutiny of the fit concept by Schoonhoven (1981) and Drazin and Van de Ven (1985) most certainly such noticeable aberrations and weaknesses in the theory and concepts behind this could most likely be a definite risky venture and could lead to a huge financial loss by whatever organization who takes the risk in applying this undefined ideology, as it is even observed that employees and management in some cases were even resistant to the change in processes of the organisation Sentanin (2008) , backs this in the Embrapa Brazillian Agricultural Research Corporation case study. Here, we see human factors and attitude to change may be a factor in determining the BPMs success or failure, the approach is still in its earlier stages but it appears further work could have been done to substantiate this research such as the appropriate modelling of the organizations (sky bank) process to give a clear scope of the whole picture and the main factors concerned, this was not done any where in Trkman(2010)s article but successfully implemented in exponential studies done by Neubauer,T (2009)

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