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Research Project

The Future of Business Process Management in the Future of Work

by Georgi Kerpedzhiev

Georgi Kerpedzhiev, a student of the Elite Graduate Program Finance & Information Management, co-authored a publication on the topic of future of work and its effects on business process management as a corporate capability.

The way we work is being revolutionized by contemporary technological, demographic, and economic developments. New digital affordances, such as virtual collaboration tools as well as mobile applications and devices, enable innovative collaboration models and render work independent from context factors such as time and location. A connected work environment allows for dynamically assembling workers into project teams that compete in real-time for high-value tasks all over the world. The emerging digital mindset also propagates customization and flexibility as core values, while challenging work practices that rely on predictability, uniformity, and consistency. The term “future of work” is widely used to refer to a new world of work brought about by technological trends in global connectivity, smart machines, and new media as well as changing social, political, and economic factors.

Our research team conducted a systematic literature review on the future of work to explore its constitutive features. Some of the key insights the literature review yielded include the increasing portion of project work, the flattening of organizational hierarchies and the intensifying need for finding and cultivating talent. The future of work is perceived as being driven by human capabilities as much as by technology. While technology will continue to automate tasks and assist decision-making, humans will indispensable when it comes to knowledge- and communication-intensive work.

Even though the future of work undoubtedly impacts a host of various disciplines, it directly influences organizational strategy and design. In particular, it has an effect on Business Process Management (BPM), a comprehensive system for managing and transforming organizational operations. BPM strives for the effective and efficient organization of work within and across business processes and is increasingly viewed as a corporate capability that needs to be developed. The future of work will undoubtedly change our understanding of BPM and how it can evolve.

The increasing fraction of project-like and unstructured work will make the distinction between processes and projects blur. Supporting such work may require the development of hybrid methods that build on BPM and project management. Moreover, BPM will have to ensure the smooth functioning of processes confronted with high volatility in teams and business environments as well as enable the seamless integration of external partners across value networks. BPM will also have to capitalize on the growing potential of digital technologies to complement human participation in processes and to leverage process data for innovation. At the same time, a human-centric culture that fosters the leading role of people in processes is indispensable since process outcomes will require significant creative, cognitive, entrepreneurial, and boundary-spanning skills. Finally, BPM needs to be open toward ideas and work practices from the outside to avoid complacency with internal procedures and to capitalize on improvement opportunities.

BPM as a corporate capability needs to...

  • ...support the shift from individual processes to process portfolios.
  • ...offer methods that address the blurring boundaries between processes and projects.
  • ...enable the integration of smart connected things into processes.
  • ...enable levering process data for value creation and innovation.
  • ...support the handling of agile and knowledge-intensive processes.
  • ...ensure process continuity in rapidly changing ecosystems.
  • ...maintain the focus on human capabilities in addition to process technology.
  • ...promote the integration of boundary-spanners into process teams.
  • ...enable the integration of process partners across value networks.
  • ...foster the openness of processes towards external ideas and work practices.



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