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Abstract

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. 1. INTRODUCTION
  4. 2. BUSINESS PROCESS MANAGEMENT IN EMPIRICAL RESEARCH
  5. 3. KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT IN EMPIRICAL RESEARCH
  6. 4. BUSINESS PROCESS MANAGEMENT VERSUS THE CREATION OF KNOWLEDGE IN ENTERPRISES
  7. 5. CONCLUSIONS
  8. Acknowledgment
  9. References

The main condition for the survival and development of contemporary enterprises is a focus on changes in the business environment. Business Process Management is a concept that enables efficient adaptation to changing business environment conditions. Currently, companies tend to focus on the process approach, using the knowledge that is available within the company. This paper presents research results related to knowledge management in Poland and to both Polish and worldwide practices of Business Process Management. This presentation is followed with a discussion that provides inspiration for in-depth empirical research in this field. Currently, there is an urgent need for research that addresses the challenging issues related to the integration of available knowledge management technologies, concepts, and methods into organizational business processes.

1. INTRODUCTION

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. 1. INTRODUCTION
  4. 2. BUSINESS PROCESS MANAGEMENT IN EMPIRICAL RESEARCH
  5. 3. KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT IN EMPIRICAL RESEARCH
  6. 4. BUSINESS PROCESS MANAGEMENT VERSUS THE CREATION OF KNOWLEDGE IN ENTERPRISES
  7. 5. CONCLUSIONS
  8. Acknowledgment
  9. References

The main condition for the survival and development of contemporary enterprises is a focus on changes in the business environment. Increasing numbers of companies are directing their attention toward effective management methods and are viewing their organizations through the prism of interrelated business processes. Improving the efficiency of an organization requires not only a constant focus on improving key processes but also must account for knowledge management during the process activities. Many conferences have been conducted around the world to discuss the topic of how process management systems are linked to knowledge management. Currently, there is no thorough research regarding integrated systems of process management that are oriented toward knowledge. The following discussion of the current article provides inspiration for in-depth empirical research in this field.

The purpose of this article is to indicate that knowledge creation in Business Process Management should contribute to increasing the process efficiency of an organization and should thereby increase organizational effectiveness.

1.1. Glossary

A glossary of the terms that are used to discuss this issue will first be presented:

  • Knowledge

Davenport and Prusak define knowledge as a fluid mix of framed experiences, values, contextual information, and expert insights that provides a framework for evaluating and incorporating new experiences and information (Davenport & Prusak, 1995). According to Grudzewski and Hejduk, knowledge is the application of information in practice (Grudzewski & Hejduk, 2002).

Bender and Fish claim that knowledge originates in the head of an individual (the mental state of having ideas, facts, concepts, data, and techniques recorded in an individual's memory) and builds on information that is transformed and enriched by personal experiences, beliefs, and values with decision and action-relevant meanings. The knowledge formed by an individual could therefore differ from the knowledge possessed by another person who received the same initial information (Bender & Fish, 2000).

According to Baker et al., knowledge is present in ideas, judgments, talents, root causes, relationships, perspectives, and concepts. Knowledge can be related to customers, products, processes, culture, skills, experiences, and expertise (Baker et al., 1997).

Knowledge is currently perceived as a strategic enterprise resource; therefore, it should be subject to constant identification, measurement, acquisition, development, utilization, and protection.

  • Knowledge Management

This refers to a deliberate and systematic approach to ensure the full utilization of the knowledge base of an organization. Many knowledge management efforts of organizations have primarily been concerned with pursuing strategic competitiveness by capturing, codifying, storing, and disseminating the knowledge that is possessed by individuals within those organizations (Han & Park, 2009).

According to Bukowitz and Williams, knowledge management is a process that helps the organization generate wealth from its intellectual or knowledge-based assets (Bukowitz & Williams, 1999). Hejduk defines knowledge management as an approach to grow or create value by more actively supporting the experiences related to expertise and judgment that exist both within and outside an organization (Hejduk, 2005).

If an organization is truly committed to sustaining its competitive advantage, then all issues related to knowledge management and innovation should be integrated into its organizational knowledge strategy (Ordóñez de Pablos, 2010).

  • Business Process

Richter-von Hagen and Stucky define a business process as a sequence of activities that seeks to create one or more products or services of value to the customer. It is started and finished by one or more events (Richter-von Hagen & Stucky, 2004). Furthermore, business process activities typically require one or more resources (such as people, processors, data, or software, for instance) that belong to predefined resource classes (Richter-von Hagen et al., 2005b).

  • Knowledge-Intensive Process

According to Richter-von Hagen et al., a process is knowledge-intensive if its value can only be created through fulfilling the knowledge requirements of the process participants. (Richter-von Hagen et al., 2005b).

Business processes can be structured, semistructured, or unstructured. There are unchangeable rules for the execution of every activity of structured processes, and a structured process is repeatable as often as needed (Richter-von Hagen et al., 2005a). Semistructured processes contain both structured and nonstructured aspects.

Unstructured processes are completely unpredictable. Unstructured processes are not suitable for any level of automation but provide plenty of freedom to users (Richter-von Hagen et al., 2005a).

An unstructured process that has not been modeled can be reconstructed after its execution. The decision can then be made regarding whether the process in question should continue to be an unstructured process or whether it should become either a semistructured process involving certain established process components or a structured process that can be improved after each iteration of process execution.

Knowledge-intensive business processes are only partially mapped by the process model because these processes involve unpredictable decisions and tasks that are guided by creativity. Typically, knowledge flows and knowledge transfers between individuals and the media are necessary for the successful completion of this type of process (Gronau & Weber, 2004).

  • Business Process Management (BPM)

BPM is “a systemic, structured approach to analyze, improve, control, and manage processes with the aim of improving the quality of products and services” (Elzinga et al., 1995).

  • Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI)

The concept of Process Maturity Levels was developed at the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) of Carnegie Mellon University in the 1990s, based on quality work that was originally performed by Watts Humphrey. This concept was originally developed to support the analysis of the Capability Maturity Model (CMM); its latest version, Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI), has been generalized to be applicable to any of a wide variety of processes in diverse organizations. CMMI defines the following five separate levels of process maturity: Level 1: Nonorganized Processes; Level 2: Some Organized Processes; Level 3: Most Processes Are Organized; Level 4: Processes Are Managed; and Level 5: Processes Are Continuously Improved.

2. BUSINESS PROCESS MANAGEMENT IN EMPIRICAL RESEARCH

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. 1. INTRODUCTION
  4. 2. BUSINESS PROCESS MANAGEMENT IN EMPIRICAL RESEARCH
  5. 3. KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT IN EMPIRICAL RESEARCH
  6. 4. BUSINESS PROCESS MANAGEMENT VERSUS THE CREATION OF KNOWLEDGE IN ENTERPRISES
  7. 5. CONCLUSIONS
  8. Acknowledgment
  9. References

Business processes are a collection of interdependent activities or tasks that are organized to achieve specific business goals. Business processes often encompass multiple functional organizations and hierarchies, both within and outside an organization, and therefore typically require process activities to be coordinated to effectively achieve organizational goals (Raghu & Vinze, 2007).

2.1. Business Process Management in Empirical Research in the World

The state of BPM research in the world is presented in the report, “The State of Business Process Management 2012.” The main goal of this report was to address how organizations understand BPM and determine which BPM activities are currently conducted by companies. The report summarizes information provided by 399 respondents who participated in the BPTrends survey in the fall of 2011 (Wolf & Harmon, 2010, 2012).

The report analyzes the responses of the participants and compares these responses with the data collected during the two previous BPTrends surveys conducted in 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2011. The respondents represent a broad cross section of industries from around the world. Most of the questions addressed in the report were asked in all of the surveys conducted in 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2011, permitting comparisons of the answers provided by respondents during each of these four time periods.

In 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2011, the major driver causing organizations to focus on business process changes was the “need to save money by reducing costs and/or improving productivity,” followed by the “need to improve management coordination or organizational responsiveness,” “customer satisfaction,” and “the need to improve products” (Table 1). The “need to improve management of IT resources” was also a significant driver for business process changes, as was “government or business risk management.” One-time events were driving forces for business process changes for only 4%–5% of respondents (Wolf &Harmon, 2012).

Table 1. Business Drivers that Cause Organizations to Focus on Business Process Change
What are the major business drivers causing your organization to focus on business process change? (Choose one or more)
 2005200720092011
  1. Source: Wolf & Harmon, 2012.

Need to save money by reducing costs and/or improving productivity11133%15256%15358%21657%
Need to improve existing products, create new products, or enter new lines of business to remain competitive6419%9736%6525%10628%
One-time event (merger or acquisition)72%114%145%154%
Government or business risk management3711%4617%3714%5013%
Need to improve customer satisfaction to remain competitive6419%10237%8532%11731%
Need to improve management coordination or organizational responsiveness7723%13851%11945%14638%
Need to improve management of IT resources319%5319%4618%6317%
Other319%3111%197%154%

Another important issue concerns the use of performance data in Business Process Management (Table 2). In total, 40% of the surveyed enterprises in 2011 (49% in 2009) only occasionally use these results to improve the efficiency of management processes, whereas 24% of surveyed companies often benefit from the performance data results (21% in 2009) and 3% of the companies always use performance data for management purposes. A similar trend was observed in 2007 and 2005. Companies may be working to analyze processes at the enterprise level, but they do not appear to have made a great deal of progress in defining measures that managers can use to control the processes that they manage.

Table 2. Do Managers use Performance Data to Manage their Processes?
Do process managers use performance data to manage their processes?
 2005200720092011
  1. Source: Wolf & Harmon, 2012.

Never (0%)4216%4216%3614%4813%
Occasionally (1–30%)12948%12948%12749%14740%
Frequently (31–60%)5821%5821%5521%9024%
Most times (61–99%)3613%3613%3513%7520%
Always (100%)52%52%83%123%
Total270100%270100%261100%372100%

Social aspects of business process management should be important (Table 3). However, many companies only occasionally train managers to analyze, redesign, and manage processes (40% in 2011, 49% in 2009), and these results reflect a trend that has been maintained since 2005. Only 19% of surveyed companies in 2011 often perform appropriate training of managers, and 7% of the surveyed firms always provide appropriate training to their managers. These results indicate significant deficiencies in the social aspects of management processes, particularly with respect to the appropriate and adequate development of managerial staff.

Table 3. Are Managers Trained to Analyze, Redesign and Manage Processes?
Are managers trained to analyze, design, and manage business processes?
 2005200720092011
Never (0%)4213%5520%3614%7019%
  1. Source: Wolf & Harmon, 2012.

Occasionally (1–30%)12137%13550%12749%15040%
Frequently (31–60%)9629%4818%5521%7319%
Most times (61–99%)5416%3011%3513%5515%
Always (100%)155%31%83%287%
Total328100%271100%261100%376100%

There was no formal BPM group in 36% of the companies surveyed in 2011 (Table 4). A BPM group existed at the executive level for 18% of the firms surveyed in 2011, whereas 16% of the surveyed firms had BPM groups at the divisional or departmental levels. In addition, BPM groups were also present in the information technology (IT, 15%), finance (4%), and quality control (5%) departments of the surveyed companies.

Table 4. Where is the BPM Group Located within the Organization?
Does your organization have a group (or center of excellence) responsible for Business Process Management and, if so, where is it located within your organization?
 2005200720092011
We do not have a formal BPM group11033%9636%8633%13536%
  1. Source: Wolf & Harmon, 2012.

Our BPM group is at the Executive level5918%3613%3313%6718%
Our BPM group is at the Divisional or Departmental level6319%4818%4618%5916%
Our BPM group is located within IT4614%4416%4216%5615%
Our BPM group is located within HR or Training10%31%42%31%
Our BPM group is located within Finance41%73%42%134%
Our BPM group is located within Quality Control217%166%166%175%
Other268%197%2911%216%
Total330100%269100%260100%371100%

The 2011 report presents the results of this research with respect to the CMMI approach. Most of the surveyed companies are between CMMI Levels 2 and 3. Many companies are at least interested in moving from CMMI Level 2 to Level 3. However, given the complexities of the BPM market, most firms may be firmly at Level 2 in terms of business process redesign, as they are engaged in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) installations that have caused them to focus on their IT architecture (Wolf & Harmon, 2010).

In general, organizations in North America and Europe appear to be progressing at the same rate with respect to process management. A global economy places similar pressures on organizations around the world to become more productive and efficient (Wolf & Harmon, 2010).

2.2. Business Process Management in Empirical Research in Poland

The use of the concept of Business Process Management is most common in Poland for companies operating in the banking, insurance, telecommunications, and IT sectors, as well as for public administration and health care institutions. Polish companies recognize the need to improve business processes through the use of information and communication technologies; these improvements would lead to increased productivity and competitiveness of Polish enterprises in global markets.

Research has been conducted in Poland with respect to the maturity process of Polish companies. The Raport Dojrzałość procesowa polskich organizacji, which used the CMMI approach, was prepared in 2009; this report incorporated data generated by 480 respondents from a variety of industries.

The data for this report were obtained through an online survey. The main objective of the report was to evaluate the maturity of the business processes in Polish organizations and to analyze the correlation between the observed levels of process maturity and the size, capital structure, and ownership of the surveyed organizations.

The report in question demonstrated that a large majority of organizations took measurements of their business processes but did not manage those processes or use the process measurement results in their decision making. (The subjective opinions of the surveyed enterprises placed the businesses into the CMMI categories in the following proportions: 4% of firms were at Level 1: Nonorganized Processes; 17% of firms were at Level 2: Some Organized Processes; 29% of firms were at Level 3: Most Processes Are Organized; 38% of firms were at Level 4: Processes Are Managed; and 12% of firms were at Level 5: Processes Are Continuously Improved) (Dojrzałość procesowa polskich organizacji, 2010).

The data prove that processes do not answer the question regarding the realization of the strategic goals of the organization, which should be decomposed into process objectives. Measurement processes provide the answer to the question of whether the objectives of a process have been achieved but are rarely useful as aggregate indicators for monitoring the implementation of the company's strategic goals.

In the report, 57% of respondents declared that their organizations have an architecture of processes that decomposes the broader processes to subprocesses.

The results of the report confirm that one of the primary problems related to the management process is the ownership of processes. Unfortunately, only 34% of the organizations with identified processes are the owners of these processes. According to the respondents, only 28% of organizations with defined processes publish their proceedings in public records that are available to employees. In reality, this result means that the participants in organizational processes lack access to information about the current processes and the nature of the planned and implemented alterations to these processes (Dojrzałość procesowa polskich organizacji, 2010).

The public sector in Poland is increasingly interested in business processes because rising expectations for service quality necessitate effective administrative processes. Public sector institutions are faced with the challenge of redefining themselves as customer-oriented service organizations (Bitkowska, 2009).

In particular, an investigation by Szumowski was aimed at defining the scope and extent of the process approach in local government administrative offices (Szumowski, 2009). The study was financed by the Ministry of Science and Information Technology in Poland (grant no.1 HO2D 08 427) and was conducted on a sample of 129 local offices in dolnosląskie voivodeship.

The research conducted by Szumowski in local government offices sought to determine the scope and extent of the process approach in these offices (Szumowski, 2009). This study found that 26% of offices have the process approach; in nearly all cases, this approach resulted from the implementation of or preparation for ISO 9001:2000, which places significant emphasis on the identification of ongoing processes. Of the 96 offices that did not follow a process approach, 56 declared their intention to apply a process approach in the future (Szumowski, 2009).

Government offices that did not intend to use the process approach and its components in the future suggested the following causes for their reluctance: a negative view of the methods associated with the process approach, the requirements to create additional and unnecessary documentation that are imposed by the process approach, the monopoly position of the office in question, and a belief in the office's capacity to operate effectively through a functional approach.

In addition, government offices that recognized the necessity of adopting the elements of a process approach in the future identified the following factors inhibiting the adoption of this approach: a lack of staff qualifications, staff resistance, a lack of innovative leadership, the existence of other priorities, and the expected high financial costs of implementation (particularly given the existence of financial problems or constraints).

Positive evaluations of the effects of implementing a process approach were expressed by 80% of government offices; however, there was no explicit statement evaluating the effects of process approach implementation for the remaining 20% of the examined offices (Szumowski, 2009).

Respondents identified the following primary positive effects of the process approach: an increase in customer satisfaction, increases in the order and systematization of office processes, improvements in the organization of the office's work, an improvement in the functionality of the office, improvements in working conditions, and increases in employee satisfaction.

Summarizing the results of the study by Szumowski, we can conclude that in most cases, the local government offices that used the elements of a process approach achieved the following:

  • sufficiently identified the processes;
  • sufficiently aligned their management systems with those processes;
  • did not transform organizational structures into process organizations;
  • did not sufficiently shape their organizational cultures to support the orientation process.

3. KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT IN EMPIRICAL RESEARCH

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. 1. INTRODUCTION
  4. 2. BUSINESS PROCESS MANAGEMENT IN EMPIRICAL RESEARCH
  5. 3. KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT IN EMPIRICAL RESEARCH
  6. 4. BUSINESS PROCESS MANAGEMENT VERSUS THE CREATION OF KNOWLEDGE IN ENTERPRISES
  7. 5. CONCLUSIONS
  8. Acknowledgment
  9. References

Modern organizations view the appropriate use of the knowledge and competence of their employees as an opportunity for development. The quality and content of employees’ knowledge constitute essential competitive factors for successful companies (Hejduk, 2005). Knowledge is a very important intangible resource for companies, and the concept of knowledge management plays a crucial role in the entire management system. Knowledge is the basis for building future companies that are sustainable enterprises (Figure 1). Knowledge is a social product that arises from the community's general need to understand and solve problems (Johnson & Johnson, 1996).

image

Figure 1. The enterprise of the future –the shift to a sustainable enterprise in the 21st century. Source: Grudzewski et al., 2010.

Download figure to PowerPoint

A study of the main factors of building a permanent position as market leader revealed that organizational culture is the least appreciated of the four main paradigms of knowledge, innovation, trust, and organizational culture (organizational entrepreneurship) (Grudzewski et al., 2010).

3.1. Knowledge Management in Empirical Research in Poland

The investigative project (funded by Grant no. NN 115 121635) titled “Influence of using innovative solutions in selected areas of management on competitiveness of the enterprise,” was conducted at the University of Finance and Management in Warsaw, Poland. The aim of the project was to diagnose the importance of innovation (or innovations) in selected areas of business management in the process of shaping the competitiveness of companies on the Polish market and to demonstrate the possibility of implementing innovative solutions in practical management.

This project was built around the following research goals:

  • determining the level of knowledge regarding the determinants, barriers, and promoters of business competitiveness;
  • determining the level of knowledge of the role of the different areas of business management in shaping the competitiveness of a firm;
  • determining the level of knowledge regarding business innovation, particularly with respect to its determinants, promoters, barriers, and opportunities for use in various areas of business management;
  • determining the level of competitiveness of Polish enterprises with respect to their foreign competitors, identifying the factors influencing this competitiveness and assessing the importance of innovation among these factors.

The research was conducted through direct interviews by a network of trained interviewers. These interviews were based on a questionnaire prepared by the investigative team that inquired about the managers of the surveyed firm. The investigation was conducted on a group of 608 enterprises in Poland in 2009. It involved 176 microenterprises, 152 small enterprises, and 154 medium enterprises; these firms were selected with the following stratification criteria in mind: company size, industry, and location.

The aim of the study was to analyze and evaluate innovative solutions in the field of knowledge management in enterprises operating in the Polish market with respect to the development of greater competitiveness.

The study findings indicate that the formal implementation of knowledge management is reported by only 10.2% of the surveyed enterprises, although knowledge management components were used by 11.3% of the surveyed companies. Additionally, 11.3% of these companies planned to implement knowledge management solutions in the future. Disturbingly, 24.3% of company business leaders were not familiar with the knowledge management concept, and 11.2% of the survey respondents stated that there was no possibility of the application of this concept. In total, as many as 30.06% of the surveyed companies could not perceive a need to implement knowledge management solutions. These results indicate a lack of awareness with respect to respondents’ understanding of the need to utilize modern conceptions of the company. The status of knowledge management in the surveyed companies is presented in Table 5.

Table 5. Knowledge Management in Companies in Poland
  Company size (number of employees)
 Total (%)5–910–4950–249250 or more
  1. Source: Author's own research.

Implementation of Knowledge Management10.26.85.99.720.6
Components of Knowledge Management11.310.29.210.416.7
Plans connected with the implementation of Knowledge Management11.38.57.913.616.7
No need for Knowledge Management30.0635.232.231.820.6
No possibility of Knowledge Management11.213.111.8117.9
Company business leaders do not know Knowledge Management24.326.131.621.416.7
Other101.31.90.8

The implementation of knowledge management is determined by many factors, including the size of the company and the activities of the company, among others. The implementation of knowledge management (20.6%) and the use of its components (16.7%) are most prevalent in large companies.

The reasons for which companies implemented knowledge management appear to be important (Table 6). The research results indicate that firms implement knowledge management for a number of reasons, as they may seek to improve their relationships with customers (42.5%), their competitive position (41%), their staff development (38%), and/or their revenue and profit growth (35.5%). In addition, the test indicates that firms also implement knowledge management to improve their marketing efforts (31%), increase company innovation (22.5%), and achieve greater flexibility (20%).

Table 6. The Causes of Interest in Knowledge Management in the Studied Enterprises*
  Company size (number of employees)
 Total5–910–4950–249250 or more
  1. *Three answers permitted.

  2. Source: Author's own research.

(%) Percentage of indications
Improvement of competitive position4135.622.946.250.0
Improvement of marketing efforts3122.22036.538.2
Better relations with customers42.546.742.942.339.7
Increase in innovation22.515.631.421.223.5
Revenue growth and profits35.542.237.138.527.9
Staff development3833.34034.642.6
Improvement of flexibility2026.714.321.217.6
Other2.52.22.95.80

The concept of knowledge management has only recently been recognized by companies operating in Poland and is currently becoming increasingly popular (Table 7). In fact, 35.1% of companies state that pilot work in knowledge management is currently underway. Knowledge management solutions were implemented between 2007 and 2009 by 16.8% of the surveyed companies, between 2004 and 2006 by 14.5% of the surveyed companies, between 2001 and 2003 by 3.8% of the companies, and before 1998 by 9.2% of the companies. The survey results suggest that in the near future, companies will be more willing to implement the knowledge management concept and will become increasingly aware of their needs for knowledge management.

Table 7. Period of Implementation of Knowledge Management in the Studied Enterprises
  Company size (number of employees)
 Total5–910–4950–249250 or more
  1. Source: Author's own research.

(%) Percentage of indications
Before 19989.210.013.09.76.4
1998–200011.57.04.33.210.6
2001–20033.89.74.3
2004–200614.513.317.412.914.9
2007–200916.823.326.116.18.5
Pilot work is currently underway35.123.330.438.742.6
Other9.2 8.79.712.8

The implementation of knowledge management initiatives in firms largely occurred at the discretion of the firm's management or owners (43.5%). In 24.5% of the surveyed companies, the individuals implementing these initiatives were senior managers, whereas in 18.5% of the surveyed enterprises, middle managers implemented knowledge management. The introduction of the knowledge management concept was initiated by the line managers (lower level) in only 7% of the surveyed companies, and knowledge management was achieved through employee initiatives in 4.5% of the surveyed companies.

Knowledge management spans organizational, social, and technological levels. An important role is played by innovative solutions in the field of knowledge management (Table 8). The greatest scope for innovation is found in the social dimension (58.3%), followed by the organizational (46.5%) and technological (44.8%) dimensions. The survey results present a variety of innovations that relate to the size of the company.

Table 8. Innovations in Knowledge Management in Organizational, Social, and Technological Aspects
  Company size (number of employees)
 Total5–910–4950–249250 or more
  1. Source: Author's own research.

(%) Percentage of indications     
Organizational aspects46.538.342.545.554.5
Social aspects58.370.255.050.059.7
Technological aspects44.829.842.550.050.6
Other2.22.103.02.6

3.2. Intelligent Organizations versus Knowledge Management in Poland

The main objectives of the research project titled “Intelligent organizations–knowledge management and competences of employees” consisted of discovering answers to the following inquiries:

  • whether the enterprises in Poland use the typical solutions employed by intelligent organizations;
  • what limitations these enterprises face with respect to the development of knowledge management (Kordel et al., 2010).

Furthermore, the following were the detailed objectives of the research:

  • the definition of competitiveness factors that are typically observed in intelligent organizations;
  • the identification of internal and external factors that favor learning wihtin companies;
  • the characterization of the most frequent systems for transferring knowledge within organizations that are applied by enterprises in Poland;
  • the definition of internal and external limitations for the development of knowledge management in an organization (Kordel et al., 2010).

The main component of this research project was the quantitative research, which was conducted in 2010. In particular, this research entailed questionnaire-based direct interviews and used a paper survey. The quantitative research was conducted on a sample of 800 small, medium-sized and large enterprises; the large entities were included in the sample provide a broader context for the analyzed problems. The company selection process was subject to stratification with respect to the criteria of enterprise size and operational sector (Kordel et al., 2010).

This research adopted a definition of an intelligent organization that stated that an intelligent organization fluently modifies its behavior to match its obtained knowledge and the changes that occur in the external environment. Furthermore, it was assumed that an intelligent organization is one in which the following activities are conducted: the systematic resolution of problems; experimentation (systematic research, the testing of obtained knowledge, a search for new methods of problem solving); learning that is based on previously gained experience; learning from others; and the transfer of knowledge in a rapid and efficient manner throughout the organization (Kordel et al., 2010).

The results obtained from the quantitative research demonstrated that the application of solutions that are typical for intelligent organizations is not yet popular in Poland. In particular, only one out of every eight companies (including the companies from the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME) sector but excluding microenterprises) met all four conditions for being classified as an intelligent organization. These conditions required a firm to use developed information systems, share knowledge with the environment, utilize a formalized management policy for human resources, and possess a formalized development strategy.

The most frequently occurring condition among the criteria distinguishing intelligent organizations from other firms is the development of information systems by an organization (which occurred for 47% of the total number of enterprises in the examined sample). The sampled organizations demonstrate less frequent sharing of knowledge with their environment (38%). A formalized management policy (in written form) for human resources is promulgated by 31.6% of sampled companies, and a formalized development strategy is elucidated by 26.5% of the sampled firms. More extensive organizations, in particular those in the large size category, clearly fulfill the criteria for intelligent organizations more often. Approximately 63% of large enterprises have a formalized development strategy and a formalized management policy for human resources; this figure is three times greater than the percentage of small enterprises with formalized development strategies and management policies and twice as great as the medium-sized enterprises that satisfy these criteria (Kordel et al., 2010).

It appears that under the current economic conditions, in which knowledge constitutes an increasingly important factor of competitiveness, the assimilation of the features and principles of functioning or intelligent organizations is inevitable. An important factor that stimulates enterprises to adopt the features of intelligent organizations is represented by the dissemination of knowledge about intelligent organizations and the promotion of the examples of the good practices of enterprises that already operate under the intelligent organization formula. The following constitute the main recommendations resulting from this research study (Kordel et al, 2010):

  • the establishment of a forum for the dissemination of knowledge management methods and the concept of intelligent organizations in Poland;
  • the preparation of short multimedia productions that present examples of SMEs operating as intelligent organizations;
  • the provision of (financial and training) support for SMEs that implements information tools supporting knowledge management processes;
  • increasing the knowledge of business entrepreneurs with respect to the conditions for the operation of a business in the context of a knowledge-based economy;
  • the creation of e-learning tools for entrepreneurs from the SME sector that develop not only the capacity to learn and adapt to changing environment conditions but also the capacity to apply an appropriate scope of advanced knowledge management methods;
  • the promotion of training that develops the psychosocial skills of employees.

4. BUSINESS PROCESS MANAGEMENT VERSUS THE CREATION OF KNOWLEDGE IN ENTERPRISES

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. 1. INTRODUCTION
  4. 2. BUSINESS PROCESS MANAGEMENT IN EMPIRICAL RESEARCH
  5. 3. KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT IN EMPIRICAL RESEARCH
  6. 4. BUSINESS PROCESS MANAGEMENT VERSUS THE CREATION OF KNOWLEDGE IN ENTERPRISES
  7. 5. CONCLUSIONS
  8. Acknowledgment
  9. References

At present, business processes are increasingly based on required knowledge; by contrast, these processes are supposed to be flexible and adaptable to changing environmental conditions (Russell Records, 2005).

Note that knowledge management, which is a true necessity for many situations, is not a prescription for the malfunctions of every enterprise or a remedy for every business ailment. However, this approach can be a very useful tool for improving the business processes of an enterprise in competitive and unstable world markets (Hejduk, 2005).

Business processes can be found in any organization, production or service company. Because market conditions can change rapidly, business processes must be increasingly flexible and adaptable.

4.1. Business Process as a Knowledge Context

Currently, we are discussing knowledge-based processes with a high added value; in these processes, the process objectives are strongly determined by the knowledge, skills, and qualifications of the staff implementing these practices. The traditional view of knowledge as data and information fails to consider the processes and associated assumptions related to knowledge, thus resulting in a loss of context for the knowledge that is stored (or retrieved) and shared.

The use of the business process as a knowledge context provides a richer and more complex phenomenon for study. The business process context also generates an assessment framework that renders it easier to evaluate the impact of knowledge management (KM) efforts on improving business process performance.

However, because knowledge is created and utilized during the execution of business processes, knowledge that is separated from the business process context does not produce the ability to take the correct action for generating the desired target performance (Han & Park, 2009). Jung et al. define process knowledge as ‘‘three types of knowledge that support process-related activities efficiently throughout the lifecycle of business processes.’’ The three types of process knowledge are process template knowledge, process instance knowledge, and process-related knowledge. Each knowledge type is defined as follows (Jung et al., 2007):

  • Process template knowledge constitutes not only the process template but also the analysis and simulation information derived from the template design phase. This type of knowledge also includes the history of the evolution of the template. As stated above, process template knowledge encompasses process structure, preanalysis results, simulation results, and template evolution history. In other words, process template knowledge includes the structure and meta-information of the target process. From the BPM lifecycle perspective, the information gathered during process creation, modeling, preanalysis, and evolution is converted into process template knowledge.
  • Process instance knowledge refers to a set of process instance information along with process performance measures based on the evaluation criteria of a given enterprise. It also includes information about the environment, resources, results, and other factors. Process template knowledge is created by process designers and/or analysts. Therefore, various types of information, such as the actual performers, the data and resources that are actually used, the working time, working conditions, cost, and related factors are included in this type of knowledge.
  • Process-related knowledge indicates a knowledge set that is created and used within a business process. General explicit knowledge of traditional knowledge management is summarized from the process perspective. Process-related knowledge includes books, documents, experts, help files, manuals, applications, laws and regulations, and other related factors. In other words, the various materials that can be referred to during the execution of an activity are the components of process-related knowledge.

As emphasized by Han and Park, because knowledge is utilized and created during the execution of business processes, when this knowledge is separated from the context of the business process, it cannot contribute to performance goals (Han & Park, 2009).

Karwowski indicates that the benefits that arise from the treatment of the employee as a key part of the system can be utilized through the integration of the knowledge of human factors with the business processes implemented within the management of the company (Karwowski, 2010). Philippart and Karwowski discuss the concepts that companies can draw upon to effectively utilize the principles from the human factors field in the operations and business processes spheres (Philippart & Karwowski, 2011).

Knowledge is used by the contractors of business processes, that is, the process team members. In addition, information about a process and the results of its implementation constitute organizational knowledge. All of the information related to processes, such as process models, indicators, meters, and objectives, should be collected and formalized to contribute to the improvement of the processes and, consequently, the development of the entire organization. Gronau and Weber define knowledge-intensive processes as follows: a process is knowledge-intensive if its value can only be achieved through the fulfillment of the knowledge requirements of the process participants (Gronau & Weber, 2004). Richter-von Hagen et al. define the Knowledge-Intensive Process Improvement as an evolutionary method of improving knowledge-intensive business processes in an effort to achieve continuous and incremental improvements.

4.2. Fusion of Knowledge Management and Business Process Management

It is very important to look for ways of integrating both concepts and thereby take advantage of the potential synergies between these notions (Russell Records, 2005).

Russell Records describes the fusion of Knowledge Management and Business Process Management (Figure 2). To address this fusion, implementation methodologies and tools must address the required capabilities of both models, including Automation, Performance, and Flexibility on the BPM side of this fusion and Collaboration, Search and Retrieval, and Taxonomy on the Knowledge Management side of this fusion (Russell Records, 2005).

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Figure 2. Fusion Business Process Management and Knowledge Management.

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Effective business change requires both knowledge and process transformation. Both aspects must serve a common business purpose, and neither can do so without careful consideration of the interrelationships that exist with the other factor. However, if we wish to become more business-oriented regarding knowledge, we can perhaps best view it as a fundamental aspect of the process enablers (i.e., segments of the hexagon). The elusive measurement of knowledge can then be based upon how well knowledge supports the enablers to the process and, in turn, how well the process delivers business performance to the enterprise stakeholders. Strassmann's enlightened view that the knowledge economy should be measured by evaluating the return on management (i.e., the result of human resource activities) instead of the simple analysis of asset-based metrics supports this position. Reversing this perspective provides us with the traceability that is required to put all aspects of knowledge-enabled process performance improvement in place (see Figure 3) (Burlton, 1998).

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Figure 3. Process/Knowledge Alignment.

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According to The State of Business Process Management 2010, efforts to link Knowledge Management and BPM have decreased. In this report, most respondents thought that manager training and the linking of KM and BPM were not as likely to produce immediate results as analysis and design training, which could directly lead to reductions in process costs (Wolf & Harmon, 2010).

The implementation of a knowledge management strategy is possible only when its individual elements are incorporated into the business processes of the organization. In this case, these two management concepts are interdependent and should therefore be used simultaneously. Knowledge, which is a source of competitive advantage, cannot be considered in isolation from the actions implemented by the company. Therefore, the concept of knowledge management is linked with the concept of process management. Moreover, knowledge should serve the objectives of the organization. Knowledge management is a process. The concept of process management requires the measurement of the efficiency of processes. These data must be collected, analyzed, and interpreted. Thus, knowledge is created and is then used to improve processes (Figure 4). When this approach is applied to all of the processes occurring in the enterprise, the efficiency of the organization should improve (Bitkowska & Zaleśna, 2009).

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Figure 4. Business Process Management and Knowledge Management.

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The role of knowledge management is to ensure the smooth flow of information and knowledge among all of the parts of the organization. On the whole, knowledge management consists of, among other things, the creation of knowledge, which means the creation of new ideas and initiatives within the company, and the acquisition of knowledge (data and information) from outside the company. Knowledge can be created individually, within a team, or at the level of the entire organization.

Burlton indicates the knowledge processes. We can improve our knowledge in two primary ways: by improving the processes of employing knowledgeable individuals and by improving the processes by which knowledge is shared among these individuals (Burlton, 1998).

We note the following factors that influence the entrepreneurial behaviors of workers in a process organization:

  • the strengthening of process-oriented thinking and commitment among workers;
  • Human Resources Mangement that supports the creation of knowledge in enterprises, in which workers are encouraged to create new solutions through an adequate motivational system and both workers and managers are encouraged to improve their qualification;
  • the key roles of the owner of the process and the orientation of teamwork; creating the conditions for the workers’ entrepreneurship is possible when the owner of the process is open to the workers’ ideas, supports their actions, and helps them improve the process to increase its efficiency;
  • the formation of the appropriate culture in the organization;
  • appropriate and efficient communication in the organization, as represented by a network of communication among the workers in the organization, Internet portals, and/or organizing seminars that encourage workers to create new solutions; free access to business knowledge, the source of knowledge and the exchange of knowledge result in a higher level of innovation;
  • the availability of constant access to descriptions and models of processes to all members of the process teams, who maintain communications with the process owner.

5. CONCLUSIONS

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. 1. INTRODUCTION
  4. 2. BUSINESS PROCESS MANAGEMENT IN EMPIRICAL RESEARCH
  5. 3. KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT IN EMPIRICAL RESEARCH
  6. 4. BUSINESS PROCESS MANAGEMENT VERSUS THE CREATION OF KNOWLEDGE IN ENTERPRISES
  7. 5. CONCLUSIONS
  8. Acknowledgment
  9. References

The integration of available knowledge management technologies, concepts, and methods into organizational business processes is a pressing and challenging research issue today. In Poland, the concepts of knowledge management and BPM are analyzed separately. The application of both concepts at the same time is a major challenge for the staff of organizations.

The test results indicate unsatisfactory awareness in the area of knowledge management in enterprises operating in Poland. A small number of businesses in Poland use knowledge management. One of the main reasons for this phenomenon is the lack of knowledge and awareness among managers concerning the importance of using this concept in the enterprise. Large companies clearly evince a greater tendency to use knowledge management as well as its component elements.

Companies should apply the interdependent concepts of processes and knowledge management. The former approach involves measuring the effectiveness of processes through the collection of data, which should then be analyzed and interpreted. In this way, knowledge, which should be used to improve processes, is created in the organization. It is therefore clear that the concept of knowledge management cannot be viewed in isolation from the actions implemented in the company. Both of these approaches require strategic competence from managers. If applied together, both perspectives should contribute to the increased efficiency of organizations.

Acknowledgment

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. 1. INTRODUCTION
  4. 2. BUSINESS PROCESS MANAGEMENT IN EMPIRICAL RESEARCH
  5. 3. KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT IN EMPIRICAL RESEARCH
  6. 4. BUSINESS PROCESS MANAGEMENT VERSUS THE CREATION OF KNOWLEDGE IN ENTERPRISES
  7. 5. CONCLUSIONS
  8. Acknowledgment
  9. References

Grant no. NN 115 1216 35. Influence of using innovative solutions in selected areas of management on competitiveness of the enterprise.

Grant no. 1 HO2D 08427 was financed by the Ministry of Science and Information Technology in Poland.

References

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. 1. INTRODUCTION
  4. 2. BUSINESS PROCESS MANAGEMENT IN EMPIRICAL RESEARCH
  5. 3. KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT IN EMPIRICAL RESEARCH
  6. 4. BUSINESS PROCESS MANAGEMENT VERSUS THE CREATION OF KNOWLEDGE IN ENTERPRISES
  7. 5. CONCLUSIONS
  8. Acknowledgment
  9. References
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