Exploring the Possibility of Managing Knowledge With Business Process Management Software (BPMS)

Exploring the Possibility of Managing Knowledge With Business Process Management Software (BPMS)

Alicia Martin-Navarro (INDESS, University of Cádiz, Spain), María Paula Lechuga Sancho (INDESS, University of Cádiz, Spain) and José Aurelio Medina-Garrido (INDESS, University of Cádiz, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3473-1.ch033
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Nowadays, knowledge management is a paradigm widely accepted and valued by organizations. Companies need the knowledge workers to have on a personal level to be transferred to the rest of their peers. In this way, they achieve that the best practices in the business processes are known by all employees and that is why managing this knowledge has become an important organizational goal. Currently, in the market, there are information systems that connect and coordinate the tasks of employees called business process management systems or BPMS. These technologies design the processes through modeling, which allows incorporating information and knowledge, as well as to disseminate them through the organization. The use of BPMS allows managing the knowledge within the processes, which improves the performance of the organization and adds value. This work aims to determine the connection between BPMS and knowledge management. For this, a narrative review of the literature relating both topics is carried out.
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Knowledge management (KM) is a term that has existed since the 1980s and can be defined as a systematic and intentional creation, updating and using knowledge to maximise the efficiency of an organisation (SlavÃcek, 2011) generating a common language and improving communication across it (Nadarajah and Latifah, 2016).This topic has received particular attention because it offers a means for organisations to develop competitive advantages (Wang & Yang, 2016). Among other issues, questions related to individual knowledge and its externalisation or formalisation, or the dissemination of knowledge in organisations has been deeply investigated (Kalpic & Bernus, 2006).

Organisations concerned with knowledge management focus on creating organisational knowledge to achieve efficiency, generate innovative products and improve customer service (Birasnav & Rangnekar, 2010). These organisations, upon making better success, come to realise the importance of knowledge as a resource that generates organisational benefits (Bitkowska, 2016). On the other hand, business processes are a fundamental part of daily work in organisations (Giacosa, Mazzoleni, & Usai, 2018). Business Process Management (BPM) is considered an important area of organisational design and a recognised source of business performance. At the same time, BPM research has paid a lot of attention to the development capacity of process management in organisations (Lehnert, Linhart & Röglinger, 2016). Currently, BPM has reached a certain maturity. This is justified in the amount of literature about it and, the existence of specialised journals, for example, The Business Process Management Journal and conferences, for example, The BPM-Conference in the seventh year, as well as the institutionalisation of specialised BPM degree programs in several universities, show that it is not a temporary fashion but an orientation encompassed in the science of management (Houy, Fettke Loos, 2010).

Since the 1980s, the management of business processes has been an intensely discussed topic in the field of information systems research (Houy et al., 2010). In previous decades, many organisations have embraced technological initiatives that allowed them to make changes, manage their businesses and improve their performance (Harmon, 2010). These initiatives had been extended through departmental and organisational boundaries, including clients and suppliers, resulting in a transformation of functional organisations into process-led organisations. The latest phenomenon in flexible technologies to changes in market trends are known as BPMS (Wong, 2013). BPMS represent a type of software that allows the promulgation and management of business processes of an organisation (Aalst et al., 2003), through the design and modelling of these processes (Smith & Fingar, 2003). Thus, BPMS paved way for the faster adaptation of organisations to continuous changes in the market and its consumers. Companies, that adopt this technology, are interested in the value that these systems generate through the continuous improvement of business processes. This enables them to position themselves at the forefront of a competitive market (Wong, 2013).

Wu, Kao& Chen (2015) indicate that knowledge creation is strongly linked, among other aspects, to processes. Based on this, it is implied that, if the knowledge of an organisation is used and linked to the processes, BPMS play an important role in knowledge management when these processes are automated through this technology. In this way, process management and knowledge management are two interconnected paradigms that can generate synergies, for example, the speed and agility with which knowledge can be managed and standardised once BPMS is incorporated in a company. The main objective of this article is to present a transition analysis, through previous literature, knowledge management, process management and automation, as well as the possible relationship between knowledge management and BPMS.

Key Terms in this Chapter

BPM: Management methodology whose objective is to improve productivity by optimising the business processes of an organisation. It intends to carry out an integral management of the processes, the information, people, and applications that support them.

BPMS: Software that facilitates the management and coordination of tasks within a business process. It uses process modelling rather than programming which makes it a very flexible tool.

Workflow: Software that automates intelligent movements of information. They allow the coordination, control, and automated communication of the work to be done, both by people and computers in the processes which unlike BPMS needs programming.

Information System: Interrelated technological and non-technological elements (hardware, software, communication networks, data, human resources and procedures) according to a certain structure with the objective to capture, debug, store, retrieve, update and process data for the place and time required by the user.

Knowledge: Within an organisation, knowledge is the result of human action on the data and information that the organisation possesses. It is an organisational resource that enables the conversion of information in decisions and actions. It is located in processes, technology and people.

Business Process: Set of related activities that follow a logical and specific sequence, with the aim of creating value in an output intended for the organisation, investors or customers.

Knowledge Management: Processes and systems aimed at increasing the intellectual capital of the company. It seeks to make tacit knowledge public, actionable, useful, and explicit.

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