X-Aware Business Process Management

TitleX-Aware Business Process Management
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
Secondary AuthorsRecker J

In my last Column this year, I want to draw your attention to some current efforts in the space of BPM research and education that try to move BPM thinking forward into new areas of application. I am subsuming these efforts under the notion of x-aware BPM.
Now what do I mean with this term? Awareness is generally defined as a state of consciousness in which we perceive and recognize the relevance of a certain object. This means that as individuals, awareness refers to our ability to sense objects and cognitively react to them. Awareness might thus relate to other people, to other life forms, to tangible and intangible objects. Indeed, many argue that “self-awareness” – our ability to consciously recognize ourselves – is a key defining property of humans.
The concept of awareness has also been used to conceptualize our state of recognition of how organizations work: organizational awareness in this sense refers to the state of recognition of the organization's mission and functions, and how it’s social, political, and technological systems work and operate effectively. Organizational awareness typically includes knowledge of the programs, policies, procedures, rules, and regulations of the organization.
Several research streams over recent years have now attempted to define what “awareness” means for business process management. The objective has not been to define the recognition of BPM or to elevate the understanding of its rules, policies, procedures and regulations. Instead, the efforts towards x-aware Business Process Management are attempting to raise the awareness of BPM tools and techniques to recognize relevant other objects and phenomena in the wider organizational context, and to make BPM as a management approach fit new and emerging challenges.
What is the common idea behind all these initiatives? It is to reconsider our thinking of BPM as a fully developed one-size-fits-all toolbox and management approach, and instead to improve the classical BPM to “fit” new problem domains and emerging challenges. Some of these efforts, in turn, try to extend BPM thinking, tools and methods to cover new problems (e.g., context-aware process modeling [9]), and some efforts seek an integration of BPM with methodologies typically associated with other domains (e.g., project-aware process management [2]).
Let me now introduce you to some of these current, ongoing and future streams that challenge and extend our conception of what Business Process Management is about and, importantly, where and how it can be applied. As a note of caution, I want to highlight that many of the subsequent illustrations describe work-in-progress where not all solutions have (yet) been found.