Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Knowledge Management (KM) vs. Business Process Management (BPM)

Knowledge is Power!

Knowledge Management is the discipline of exploiting information, people, processes, mindset and collective experience, thereof, that will lead to or support the development of new skills, innovation and understanding which in turn improves business output or business requirement. So is KM type of BPM, and how should you understand the relationship between KM & BPM?

There are two facets: KM as a process on top of BPM, and KM as a process under BPM. They are not mutually exclusive and both can be at play.

KM as a meta-process in relation to BPM if KM is placed on top of BPM, it would be of strategic reasons for elevating it to the level of its true potential. Organization can choose KM at the strategic level, and it would ride on all important concepts to create and sustain competitive advantages, as the purpose of all businesses is value creation; hence all business processes should create value. The purpose of KM in business is also value creation. However, the role of KM is being a generator, amplifier, and accelerator of value creation.  In this scenario, when strategically aligned, the KM can improve BPM's performance as a meta-process, as a process riding on top of business process improving and accelerating of the creation of value. Knowledge is a full partner in the business process, even because process is knowledge itself. 

If KM is placed under BPM, it would be of practical reasons: It deals with the fact that KM (or any ECM practice) is supporting a larger process like research, CRM, auditing, etc. BPM specifies how and when KM content is used in the process such as better acceptance, adoption...Also BPM acts as a kind of structure to KM. BPM has become a solid methodology already applied worldwide, that, has a more solid and practical way to show and measure the added value. The institutionalization of knowledge in organizations is conditioned on a framework's implementation of principles, practices and internal processes where BPM can fit right in.

The two can not be separated as they both are in the business environment in which being needed to capture the knowledge within the organization through business processes. All the knowledge in the world will not do anything unless it happens to be followed as a process. In the same way, every process in the world of business without the appropriate enhancement of knowledge will become out of context and pointless. It is a fair statement to say that in an environment where knowledge and processes are managed separately, they quickly become obsolete and will not be competitive against organizations that allow their teams a synergistic approach of KM and BPM.

In short, the goal of knowledge management is to improve organizational capabilities through better use of the organization’s individual and collective knowledge resources. Processes underpin such business capability; therefore, KM and BPM need to go hand in hand.


If an organization does not have a minimal Business Process Management (BPM) capability, then attempting to establish a Knowledge Management (KM) capability is a wasted effort. Some organizations, particularly in government, have functioned strictly on relationships instead of processes for so long that they lack any structure from which to build on. A KM strategy will find itself lost in the abstract or it will devolve into a simplistic lessons-learned database without any real hooks into applying those lessons.

On the other hand, a simple process architecture that is functional for the organization provides 'hooks' where information and knowledge can be 'hung' or applied. With this foundation a roadmap for growing KM can be established and any cyclical implementation methodology (Agile, Plan/Do/Study/Act, DMAIC, etc.) can be utilized to achieve the changes.

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Process management is considered to be an up-to- date approach to an organization's operation, while process structures offer a sense of order. Knowledge management in organizations may not be separate from management of organizations' processes.

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