Business Process Management in a Digital World – Trends and Predictions

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Managing Director | Co-CEO, BPM-D
Dr. Kirchmer is an experienced practitioner and thought leader in the field of Business Process Management (BPM) and Digital Transformation. He co-founded BPM-D, a consulting company focusing on operational excellence, customer experience and process innovation by leveraging the discipline of BPM. Before he was Managing Director and Global Lead of BPM at Accenture, and CEO of the Americas and Japan of IDS Scheer, known for its ARIS Software. Dr. Kirchmer has led numerous transformation and process improvement initiatives in various industries at clients around the world. He has published 11 books and over 150 articles. At the University of Pennsylvania and at Widener University he has served as affiliated faculty for over 15 years. He received a research and teaching fellowship from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. E-Mail:

Most organizations have started or at least planned digital transformation initiatives [12]. New digital tools are available with increasing regularity – and many of them have the potential for a major impact on business processes. Hyper-Automation has become a reality which changes the way business processes are organized and executed significantly. However, only a small number of organizations have their business processes sufficiently under control to realize the full potential of new digital technologies and the related transformation [7] [3]. Appropriate business process management (BPM) capabilities, delivered through the process of process management, have a significant impact on the value achieved through digitalization initiatives [2]. Digital transformation continues to shape the BPM Discipline. Here are four key trends and predictions:

Reducing Time-to-Value of Digital Transformation though a BPM-Discipline: Digital transformation initiatives deliver their value through new and improved business processes [9]. Appropriate process management accelerates the time-to-value and realizes the targeted process performance. This is achieved through a BPM-Discipline realized through a “process of process management”, which must go through a digitalization itself to be effective. It leverages the right combination of digital enablers [14] such as process mining, process modelling, and process simulation, or process-led prioritization tools to move the process management process and capabilities to the next level. An increasing number of BPM-related services is delivered remotely, benefiting from cloud-based tools and aligned work processes [1]. Establishing and continuously improving this business process management discipline is required to enable an accelerated value-realization of digital transformations. Therefore, we can expect organizations to push this topic.

Performance through Process-led Automation Platforms: In our fast and frequently changing business environment, many processes must be adjusted continuously and require appropriate specific software support. No-code or low-code automation platforms enable this agility, and enable the required integration of numerous applications and services, such as robotic process automation (RPA) [13] [9] or existing applications and ERP systems, as well as the development of additional software components. They become a key interface between the BPM-Discipline and operational processes. Appropriate process governance organizes the ongoing adjustments and aligns people with technologies. Digital technology-based process reference models help to understand and plan the business impact of the automation platform and enable a rapid and standardized roll-out of digital processes [8]. The process-driven use of automation platforms continues to be a strong trend.

Process Innovation through Integrated Stakeholder Journey Planning: Process innovation has become a key driver for new and enhanced business models [6]. Identifying impactful innovation opportunities requires an outside-in view on business processes. This can be achieved though integrated stakeholder journey planning, showing how processes impact customer, supplier, or employee experience with the organization. The management of stakeholder journey maps and their links to underlying processes becomes an effective enabler of transformations. It allows organizations to improve the experience of key stakeholders through appropriate management of the underlying processes. Integrated stakeholder journey planning becomes a core BPM capability.

Agility and Compliance through Digital Process Governance: Sustaining the results of transformation initiatives requires appropriate process governance to keep process performance on track and ensure success. Just as process management in general goes through a digital transformation, process governance needs to be digitalized as well to meet the necessary service levels. Process governance uses digital BPM tools, such as process mining [15] on an ongoing basis to enable faster and more effective performance and conformance management. The result is digital process governance, enhancing the way process owners and their teams govern operational processes. Digital process governance is value-driven, tool-enabled and people-centric. The governance support that a BPM center of excellence provides must be adjusted accordingly to enable a reliable enterprise-wide use of the required tools. Building digital process governance will be a key task for organizations.

The BPM-Discipline continues to evolve into the value-switch for digital transformation [4]. This requires the ongoing development of appropriate capabilities and skills. The process of process management goes through a digital transformation itself [11] [5] delivering an even more powerful management discipline.


[1] Abolhassan, 2016. The Drivers of Digital Transformation – Why there’s no way around the Cloud. 1st edition, Berlin.

[2] Antonucci, Fortune, Kirchmer, 2020. An examination of associations between business process management capabilities and the benefits of digitalization: all capabilities are not equal. In: Business Process Management Journal, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print, 

[3] Cantara, 2015. ‘Start up your Business Process Competency Center’. In: Documentation of The Gartner Business Process Management Summit, National Harbour.

[4] Franz, Kirchmer (2012). Value-Driven Business Process Management: The Value-Switch for Lasting Competitive Advantage. 1st edition, New York. 

[5] Kirchmer, 2015. The Process of Process Management – Mastering the New Normal in a Digital World. In: BMSD Proceedings, July 2015.

[6] Kirchmer, 2017. High Performance through Business Process Management –Strategy Execution in a Digital World. Springer, 3rd edition, New York, Berlin, e.a.

[7] Kirchmer, 2019. Value-driven Digital Transformation: Performance through Process. In: IM+io, Best & Next Practices aus Digitalisierung | Management | Wissenschaft, Heft 2, Juni 2019.

[8] Kirchmer, Franz, 2020. Process Reference Models: Accelerator for Digital Transformation. In: Shishkov B. (eds) Business Modeling and Software Design. BMSD 2020. Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing, vol 391 (ISBN: 978-3-030-52305-3). Springer.

[9] Kirchmer, Franz, 2019. Value-driven Robotic Process Automation (RPA) – A Process-led Approach for Fast Results at Minimal Risk. In: Proceedings of the 9th International Symposium on Business Modelling and Software Design, Lisbon, July 1-3, 2019.

[10] Kirchmer, Franz, 2014. Chief Process Officer – The Value Scout. BPM-D Publications, Philadelphia, London.

[11] Kirchmer, Franz, Gusain, 2017. Digitalization of the Process of Process management – The BPM-D Application. In: Proceedings of the Seventh International Symposium on Business Modelling and Software Design, Barcelona, 03-05 July 2017.

[12] Kirchmer, Franz, Lotterer, Antonucci, Laengle, 2016. The Value-Switch for Digitalisation Initiatives: Business Process Management. BPM-D Whitepaper, Philadelphia – London.

[13] Smeets, Erhard, Kaussler, 2019. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in der Finanzwirtschaft – Technologie, Implementierung, Erfolgsfaktoren fuer Entscheider und Anwender. 1st edition, Wiesbaden.

[14] Scheer. 2018. Unternehmung 4.0 – Von disruptiven Geschaeftsmodell zur Automatisierung von Geschaeftsprozessen. 1st edition, AWSi Publishing, Saarbrucken, Germany.

[15] Van der Aalst, 2016. Process Mining – Data Science in Action. 2nd edition, Berlin.

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