Design thinking and BPM: A match made in heaven

Written by Lucas de Boer | 3 min read
Published on: June 20th 2018 - Last modified: November 13th, 2020
design thinking and bpm - michael rosemann picture

Some things naturally work well together, uniting to create something greater than the sum of its parts. The latest perfect partnership is design thinking and BPM, combining a strong customer focus with transparent and optimized processes. Working in harmony, these two concepts offer organizations of all shapes and sizes the chance to make a quantum leap in the way they work and serve their customers.

Design thinking and BPM defined

If you’re reading this blog, you’re likely already familiar with the principles of business process management, but in this particular context, the emphasis is on BPM’s power to enhance transparency. By revealing the way things are done at an organization, and comparing that with the way things should be done, BPM highlights the dependencies and relationships between people, process, and technology—and where those elements are ripe for improvement.

Design thinking is also focused on improvement, but takes the end-user or customer experience as a starting point. Fundamentally, design thinking uses empathy to understand the way people feel about using a service or product, including where their frustrations lie, then builds on that knowledge to create improvements, with the ultimate goal of making customers’ lives and experiences better and more fulfilling.

Design thinking and BPM, together at last

As we have discussed in a previous blog post on how to make use of design thinking to unleash your innovation, there are five key phases of design thinking:

  • There is a challenge: How do I solve it?
  • I have learned something: How do I act upon it?
  • There is an opportunity: What do I create?
  • There is an idea: How do I build upon it?
  • I tried something: How do I evolve it?

This is an ongoing, cyclical approach, with the practice of ‘design, test, and iterate’ at its center— that is, constantly creating and rapidly deploying prototypes or new ideas, then testing and reflecting on them, including through fast feedback from customers. Organizations therefore spend less time and resources any one idea, and yet have the capacity to quickly scale up any idea that has merit, and positive reactions from customers.

The similarities to BPM are clear. Process improvement requires the same approach of identifying a challenge (like an inefficient process), generating the information needed to understand why the process is inefficient, implementing a possible solution, then measuring the effectiveness of that solution over time. Rinse and repeat! Merging the two disciplines essentially means using the insights gained through an effective BPM framework to feed into the design thinking process, and enhance customer-facing business processes.

After all, without a clear view of the current state operational structure and business process landscape to analyze, the risk of producing a ‘solution’ which is in fact not fit for purpose, or causes issues in other parts of the system, is amplified.

Benefits of design thinking and BPM

Working in tandem, design thinking and BPM unlock a range of powerful (and potentially lucrative) benefits, including:

  • Competitive advantage, gained through a willingness to innovate, then ‘double-down’ on ideas that work, and discard ones that don’t—before they become a liability
  • Moving beyond traditional process maps and case models to more customer-centric and human-scale products and services
  • Pooling collective ease and enhancing collaboration, through building multidisciplinary teams to focus on a single problem
  • Harnessing natural empathy, leading to a better understanding of the needs and challenges of customers
  • Generating more revenue by ensuring a deeper level of customer satisfaction

Design thinking and BPM webcast recording

View webcast recording: Design-led Business Process Management with Dr. Michael Rosemann.

Dr. Michael Rosemann is Professor of Information Systems and Executive Director, Corporate Engagement at Queensland University of Technology, and is a globally recognised thought leader in the areas of business process management and innovation systems. As such, he is perfectly placed to offer expert commentary on the intersection between BPM and design thinking.

In fact, he did just that in a recent Signavio webcast! Dr. Rosemann led an exclusive session on how to combine BPM and design thinking, with the aim of supporting organizations to develop contemporary, customer-centred business processes. The webcast also features a number of case studies across different industries to exemplify the power of an opportunity point-focused approach to BPM. Best of all, it’s free, and you can download a copy to view later.

It takes two

If you’d like to see for yourself how Signavio can help combine BPM and design thinking in your own work, why not sign up for a free 30-day trial with Signavio today.

Published on: June 20th 2018 - Last modified: November 13th, 2020