Experiences of process management

Abstract: Organisations in Sweden have been working with the methodology of process management since the end of the 1980s. Many organisations have tried implementing process management, but not all have succeeded. The purpose of this research is, through empirical research, to develop current knowledge and create a level of understanding of Process Management that could have practical implications for organisations considering launching a Process Management initiative. The aims of this thesis are to: (1) Describe experiences of companies that have worked to put a Process Management initiative into operation. (2) Identify and explain patterns of organisational characteristics when implementing and using process management. The theoretical frame of reference, that supports the inquiries, is the system of Total Quality Management (TQM) that consists of values, methodologies and tools. The values, here called elements, of TQM have been used as a framework to investigate the work with Process Management as a methodology. Apost-positivistic research approach has been used to perform case studies of ten Swedish organisations. The research strategy has been mainly qualitative and data has been collected through interviews and observations. The findings suggest that there is no single answer to the question of what the transition from a functionally orientated into a process-orientated organisation looks like. However, an interesting aspect that emerges is that the investigated organisations have reached what have been identified as different stages of implementing their Process Management initiatives: Functions, Teams & Projects, and Processes. The investigated cases are distributed among all these three stages. The analysis of the empirical material shows that interrelationships between elements of TQM are affected differently depending on the various approaches used in the Process Management initiatives of the investigated cases. The findings indicate that there are positive effects in several cases on several elements as a result of the Process Management initiative. However, there are also indications of risks of less positive consequences of the implementation. The results generally agree with those obtained in previous studies. There is no one answer to how to work with Process Management. Every organisation should consider the goals they want to accomplish with a Process Management initiative. The way of working with Process Management can differ between organisations and should depend on the aims the organisation wants to accomplish. When moving away from a functionally orientated organisation, it seems difficult to find a totally new way of organising. One possible interpretation is that the management models and the knowledge and understanding of how to manage organisations that we hold today are not enough to solve this dilemma.

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