The Business Process Design
Space for exploring process
Institute for Data, Process and Knowledge Management,
Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna, Austria
FIM Research Center Finance & Information Management, University of Bayreuth,
Institute for Information Systems, University of Liechtenstein, Vaduz, Liechtenstein
Institute for Data, Process and Knowledge Management,
Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna, Austria
FIM Research Center Finance & Information Management, Project Group Business
& Information Systems Engineering of the Fraunhofer FIT, University of Bayreuth,
Bayreuth, Germany, and
Jan vom Brocke
Institute for Information Systems, University of Liechtenstein, Vaduz, Liechtenstein
Purpose –Process redesign refers to the intentional change of business processes. While process redesign
methods provide structure to redesign projects, they provide limited support during the actual creation of to-be
processes. More specifically, existing approaches hardly develop an ontological perspective on what can be
changed from a process design point of view, and they provide limited procedural guidance on how to derive
possible process design alternatives. This paper aims to provide structured guidance during the to-be process
Design/methodology/approach –Using design space exploration as a theoretical lens, the authors develop
a conceptual model of the design space for business processes, which facilitates the systematic exploration of
design alternatives along different dimensions. The authors utilized an established method for taxonomy
development for constructing the conceptual model. First, the authors derived design dimensions for business
processes and underlying characteristics through a literature review. Second, the authors conducted semi-
structured interviews with professional process experts. Third, the authors evaluated their artifact through
three real-world applications.
Findings –The authors identified 19 business process design dimensions that are grouped into different
layers and specified by underlying characteristics. Guiding questions and illustrative real-world examples help
© Steven Gross, Katharina Stelzl, Thomas Grisold, Jan Mendling, Maximilian R€
oglinger and Jan vom
Brocke. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative
Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create
derivative works of this article (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full
attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at http://
This research has been funded by ERASMUSþ(EU Funding 2018-1-LI01-KA203-000114,
“Reference Module Design for Explorative Business Process Management”).
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Received 23 March 2020
Revised 20 August 2020
1 October 2020
Accepted 27 October 2020
Business Process Management
Vol. 27 No. 8, 2021
Emerald Publishing Limited
to deploy these design dimensions in practice. Taken together, the design dimensions form the “Business
Process Design Space”(BPD-Space).
Research limitations/implications –Practitioners can use the BPD-Space to explore, question and rethink
business processes in various respects.
Originality/value –The BPD-Space complements existing approaches by explicating process design
dimensions. It abstracts from specific process flows and representations of processes and supports an
unconstrained exploration of various alternative process designs.
Keywords Business process redesign, Process improvement, Process innovation, Design space exploration
Paper type Research paper
Adopting and transforming business processes (processes hereafter) is essential for
organizations to cope with increasing competition and customer expectations (Harmon and
Garcia, 2020;Huang et al., 2015), especially in a hyper-connected world (Beverungen et al., 2020).
Process redesign refers to the analysis and design of processes within and between organizations
(Davenport and Short, 1990) and aims at changing the way work is accomplished and value is
delivered (Dumas et al., 2018). Process redesign is a central part of business process management
(BPM) and is supported by several BPM capabilities in the digital age (Kerpedzhiev et al., 2020).
Because of their strategic importance, process redesign projects may entail large human and
technical investments but may also yield substantial returns (Huang et al., 2015).
A plethora of methods and techniques support the systematic redesign of processes
(Brocke et al., 2020;Dumas et al., 2018;Gross et al., 2019). While these approaches structure
redesign projects into a logical sequence of steps, they are restricted regarding their
ontological and procedural guidance during the actual act of creating new to-be process
designs. In terms of ontological guidance, many approaches provide no or limited support on
what can be changed from a process design perspective. In terms of procedural guidance,
methods define phases and activities for redesign projects but lack structured support for
designing new processes –which often happens in a “black box”(Denner et al., 2018;Zellner,
2011, p. 217). Hence, the creation of to-be process designs largely remains the result of a
creative process (Figl and Recker, 2016;Sharp and Mcdermoot, 2009, p. 323; Vanwersch et al.,
2015). Divergent thinking and creative techniques have been proposed for challenging
thought boundaries in process redesign (Grisold et al., 2019;Kirchmer, 2017), but they suffer
from limited reliability and consistency (Lee, 2014) as well as from potential biases
(Afflerbach et al., 2017). The missing guidance during the creation of to-be process designs
hinders organizations to realize the full potential of process redesign projects. Consequently,
organizations may not completely reach their actual value creation potential.
Against this backdrop, this paper addresses the research problem of fostering the
exploration of alternative process designs through explicit ontological guidance. More
specifically, we aim to answerthe research question: Whatare relevant dimensions for exploring
process redesign alternatives? To this end, we built on the design space concept (Dove et al., 2016;
Maclean et al., 1991) and developed a “Business Process Design Space”(BPD-Space) using the
taxonomy development method by Nickerson et al. (2013). The design space concept has
received attention in recent process redesign literature (Rosemann, 2020;Wurm et al.,2019), but
the idea has not yet been operationally defined. As we demonstrate in our evaluation,
discussing the dimensions of the BPD-Space helps to break out of constraining thought
boundaries. In summary, our contribution is a conceptual model of process design dimensions
together with exemplary characteristics, guiding questions and examples, which collectively
build the BPD-Space. Empirically generated application guidelines support to use the BPD-
Space in redesign projects. We thereby provide comprehensive ontological and initial
procedural support during the to-be process creation.
This paper proceeds as follows. In section 2, we review existing process redesign
approaches and introduce the design space concept. In section 3, we outline our research
method. In section 4, we introduce the BPD-Space, while section 5 presents its evaluation. In
section 6, we lay out implications, application guidelines, limitations and directions for future
research. Section 7 concludes the paper.
2.1 Existing process redesign approaches
Process redesign refers to the intentional change of processes within and beyond
organizational boundaries (Davenport and Short, 1990) and is an essential part of the BPM
discipline (Dumas et al., 2018). Process redesign methods have been highlighted as a critical
success factor (Rosemann and vom Brocke, 2015) and provide guidance in a step-wise manner
(Mendling et al., 2020). Techniques assist in performing one or more method’s activities
(Brinkkemper, 1996) and are thus narrowly focused on a specific outcome. For instance, a
technique might focus on the diagnose or redesign of a process, two consecutive phases in a
process redesign project (Gross et al., 2019;Kettinger et al., 1997).
A wide range of process redesign methods and techniques exists (Brocke et al., 2020;
Dumas et al., 2018;Gross et al., 2019). These redesign approaches can be characterized based
on their nature (which can be analytical or creative), perspective (inward-looking or outward-
looking) and ambition (transactional or transformational) (Dumas et al., 2018). Based on
methods and techniques discussed in reviews and articles on process redesign and service
design (Bettencourt et al., 2013;Bitner et al., 2008;Dumas et al., 2018, p. 306 ff; Frank et al.,
2020;Lee et al., 2008;Malone et al., 1999;Rosemann, 2020;Vanwersch et al., 2015), we further
distinguish seven underlying rationales of existing redesign approaches (Table 1). The
identified redesign rationales are (1) problem-based, (2) imitation-based, (3) pattern-based, (4)
interaction-based, (5) outcome-based, (6) customer-based and (7) alternative-based. While
they are non-exclusive, we observe that one rationale typically predominates.
We describe the different rationales in more detail below.
(1) Most prominently, problem-based process redesign approaches like lean management
(Bortolotti and Romano, 2012) and six sigma (Kwak and Anbari, 2006) aim at
continuously tweaking existing processes through the identification and elimination
of process problems. These approaches are problem-based, in the sense that they aim
at improving issues or bottlenecks (Van den Bergh et al., 2014;Grisold et al., 2019) and
thus mainly investigate the problem space of processes. As an example, lean
management classifies different types of waste to be avoided, while non-value-adding
process activities should be eliminated.
(2) Imitation-based approaches like benchmarking (K€
onig et al., 2019) and positive
deviance (Setiawan and Sadiq, 2013) search for superior process designs with the aim
to imitate (part of) the process’design, which causes this effective behavior.
(3) Pattern-based approaches build on this imitation rationale by abstracting from
various real-world examples to sketch out useful and proven solutions.
Representatives of this group are best practices of process redesign (Reijers and
Liman Mansar, 2005), explorative process design patterns (Rosemann, 2020),
customer-centric design patterns (Frank et al., 2020) and the Rethink of Process
(RePro) principles (Vanwersch et al., 2015). Business process reengineering (BPR) also
belongs to this set of approaches. Besides its radical ambition and clean-slate
approach, it builds on several principles (i.e. higher-order patterns) that have been
found to improve business process work (e.g. by involving as few people as possible
in the performance of a business process) (Hammer and Champy, 1993). Anti-patterns
follow a similar rationale by abstracting from common mistakes (Koschmider
et al., 2019).
Tweak exisng p rocesses
through the idenﬁcaon and
eliminaon of process issues
Idenfy and imitate (parts of)
Enumerate proven soluons which can be
re-applied on exisng processes
Give guidance on the
interacon during process
Predeﬁne a process outcome
and reverse engineer an ideal
Idenfy and analyze a process
from the customer point-of-
Idenfy and explore a wide range of possible
process design alternaves
Management SixSigma Bench-
Method Method Techniqu e
Method Method Technique
Method Techniqu e
with a focus
outliers in a
Set of princi -
aim to ena-
ble the radi-
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Set of prac-
Set of pat-
terns to add
to a process
ture to the
in a work-
Use walls of
a room to
points on a
process in a
what is nec-
essary for it s
for a prede-
sions to a
sists in rede-
that do not
rior with re-
gard to the
A list of ge-
ples and ex-
A list of
A list of ge-
Set of crea-
ing in a
use of re-
uses a pro-
A list of ab-
sign in vari-
Use as a
of design al-
nave - the
on of guid-
on the crea-
to a set of
a great ex-
tent on the
on of de-
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the size of
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on is re-
on how to
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ity of work-
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ing the blue-
none/narrow s ome/moderate full/wide
Comparison of existing
and ontological and
(4) Interaction-based approaches like 7FE (Jeston and Nelis, 2008) and NESTT
(Rosemann, 2017) enable process redesign by providing guidance on the
interaction of process redesign participants and artifacts, e.g. by using the walls of
a room to visualize, organize and discover different viewpoints on a process in the
NESTT method. They may also specify roles for the redesign project, as does 7FE
with the specification of a redesign facilitator (Jeston and Nelis, 2008).
(5) Outcome-based approaches like product-based design (Reijers et al., 2003) or the
process model canvas (Koutsopoulos and Bider, 2018) follow an end-to-start logic.
They predefine a desired process outcome and reverse-engineer an ideal process
design for reaching this outcome.
(6) Customer-based approaches like service blueprinting (Bitner et al., 2008) and the job-
centric approach (Bettencourt et al., 2013) identify and analyze a process from the
customer point of view. Compared to outcome-based approaches, customer-based
approaches are more outward-looking, with the customer as the main point of
(7) Finally, alternative-based approaches like process grammar (Lee et al., 2008), the
handbook of organizational processes (Malone et al., 1999) or the BPR framework
(Reijers and Liman Mansar, 2005) aim to explore a wide range of possible process
design alternatives without investigating prior process problems. Thus, they are
opportunity-driven (Grisold et al., 2019). They build on the underlying assumption
that some alternatives within this range outperform the status quo.
As indicated, a redesign method or technique can build on more than one of the previously
described rationales. For instance, lean management is problem-based as well as customer-
centric. Its intention to avoid non-value-adding activities from the customer point of view can
yet be regarded as problem-based, which thus manifests the method’s primary rationale.
2.2 Ontological and procedural aspects of process redesign
Existing process redesign approaches provide limited support during the actual creation of
to-be process designs (Sharp and Mcdermoot, 2009, p. 323; Vanwersch et al., 2015;Zellner,
2011, p. 217), as we will further explore in this section. The creation of to-be process designs is
a critical part of redesign endeavors and refers to the creation of one or more design
alternatives. While the underlying rationales of existing redesign approaches offer different
frames of reference for the redesign task, most redesign approaches do not explicate the
exploration and creation of to-be processes (Sharp and Mcdermoot, 2009, p. 323). This often
“happens in a black box”(Zellner, 2011, p. 217), i.e. it is left to the user to creatively generate to-
be processes, before their evaluation and selection. The challenge of generating to-be
processes can be viewed through two distinct yet related perspectives.
First, methods and techniques follow the underlying assumption that process redesign
alternatives are available (i.e. more than one potential to-be process), but hardly develop an
ontological perspective on what can be changed from a design point of view. For instance, lean
management follows the idea to eliminate different types of waste (Bortolotti and Romano,
2012), but there are numerous design choices on what to change to avoid waste. The waste of
motion, for example, can be countered by the integration (or exclusion) of resources, decisions,
activities and events, or by adjusting the sequence or message flow, to name but a few
alternatives. However, the method itself does not explicate these design choices nor the
resulting alternatives. Rather, it depends on the user to find appropriate leverage points in
response to an identified waste. Other approaches focus on specific design aspects of
processes while neglecting others. Product-based design (Reijers et al., 2003), for instance,
mainly focuses on the sequence flow, while the explorative process design patterns
(Rosemann, 2020) center around the revenue generation through a process. Thus, what is
missing is a holistic understanding of redesign choices, considering and placing equal
emphasis on all design choices of a business process.
Second, many redesign approaches provide limited procedural guidance on how to derive
possible process design alternatives. Sticking to the example of lean management, the
approach provides a general structure for redesign projects but does not define a procedure to
create new process designs in which a certain waste is eliminated. Some approaches provide
more explicit procedural guidance but are limited in their scope. A product-based design, for
instance, provides structured guidance for the identification of possible sequence flows, but
no procedure for other aspects of a process. Other approaches explicitly depend on creativity
for the identification of design alternatives, e.g. 7FE (Jeston and Nelis, 2008) or service
blueprinting (Bitner et al., 2008). Offering an ontological perspective provides at least some
procedural guidance, as iterating through explicated design elements can be used for the
creation of design alternatives. However, procedural guidance does not necessarily come with
an ontological perspective.
There are a few examples of more explicit guidance (Vanwersch et al., 2016). Within
pattern-based approaches, a pattern offers a specific recommendation for action, e.g. Contact
reduction or Task elimination (Reijers and Liman Mansar, 2005). However, pattern-based
approaches often focus on specific aspects of a process, e.g. revenue-oriented value for the
explorative process design patterns (Rosemann, 2020), and thereby offer only a limited
ontological perspective. Their underlying design choices are also partially implicit and not
explicit (Lee, 2014). For instance, the pattern contact reduction (Reijers and Liman Mansar,
2005) can be used to question the necessity of existing points of contacts, but not to explore
other possible forms of interaction with the customer.
Alternative-based approaches might have the potential to respond to the previously
stated ontological and procedural challenges of existing process redesign approaches, as they
aim for a wide exploration of process design alternatives. Explicit procedural guidance on the
derivation of redesign alternatives is provided by the process grammar technique, which
describes valid structural possibilities (i.e. combinations of process elements) in a given
domain (Lee et al., 2008). A predefined grammar can thereby be used to algorithmically
generate possible alternatives under specified constraints (Lee et al., 2008). However, this
approach does not explicate the design elements of business processes and thus leaves it to its
user to specify ontological design choices. More ontological guidance is offered by the BPR
framework. This framework explicates six linked elements that should be considered in BPR
projects (Reijers and Liman Mansar, 2005). These elements are, for instance, the customers of
the process and the products or services generated for the customer. While these elements
offer a high-level ontological perspective, they may be too abstract for the creation of to-be
process designs and do not explicate possible design manifestations. Table 1 gives an
overview of prominent redesign approaches for each redesign rationale and summarizes their
core idea, implications for redesign, together with an assessment of their ontological and
2.3 Toward a design space and design dimensions
The ontological challenge of process redesign can be approached using the design space
concept. A design space is a “space of possibilities”(Maclean et al., 1991, p. 203) in which
design ideas are created and considered (van Amstel et al., 2016). It is a conceptual model that
contains design alternatives (Dove et al., 2016). To provide structure, an artifact and potential
design alternatives are thereby placed along design dimensions (Maclean et al., 1991). Design
dimensions comprise characteristics (i.e. design choices) by which possible artifact
manifestations differ. Thereby, they provide an ontological design perspective. A desk, for
instance, has height, width and length as spatial design dimensions with any length
specifications as characteristics. Other design dimensions are color (with characteristics such
as white or blue), material (e.g. wood, glass) or shape of the tabletop (e.g. rectangular, round).
Thus, design dimensions offer an angle to dynamically remove, add or create new artifact
manifestations (Crilly and Cardoso, 2017).
The explication of and reflection on a design space increases the awareness of constraints
that come with particular design choices and how these can be challenged (Dove et al., 2016). It
can also make a wider range of design aspects explicit, which were previously disregarded
(Dove et al., 2016). This is particularly useful for less experienced designers (Dove et al., 2016).
A representation of a design space thereby does not (and cannot) capture all design aspects,
but provides useful guidance during the design process (Crilly and Cardoso, 2017). As such,
the design space concept has been applied in various contexts, e.g. for the design of
microservice decision logics (Haselbock et al., 2018), for the design of visualization tasks
(Schulz et al., 2013), for the design of deep learning approaches for entity matching (Mudgal
et al., 2018) and for structuring process architectures (Lapouchnian et al., 2015).
The procedural aspect of generating and evaluating design alternatives is called
exploration (Navinchandra, 1991, p. 67). Investigating the design space supports the design
process by defining design choices, which in turn enable the creation of new artifacts
(Maclean et al., 1991;Mose Biskjaer et al., 2017). For this purpose, Maclean et al. (1991)
introduced Design Space Analysis, which assists the exploration of the design space through
specific questions,options and criteria. Questions are meant to introduce design dimensions
and to structure and explore possible alternatives in the form of options (Maclean et al., 1991).
Design options (also referred to as characteristics) offer possible alternative answers to
questions to choose from (Maclean et al., 1991). Criteria support the evaluation of alternatives
(Maclean et al., 1991), e.g. according to time, flexibility, quality or costs (Reijers and Liman
Mansar, 2005). A design space schema is a graphical representation of a design space that
displays design dimensions and possible characteristics (Crilly and Cardoso, 2017).
While the previously mentioned approaches like Design Space Analysis (Maclean et al.,
1991) and the process grammar (Lee et al., 2008) build on the design space concept for
determining alternative process designs, they do not explicate the design dimensions of
processes. Thus, the identification and selection of design dimensions in process redesign
projects leave the involved project members to their own devices. This is especially
challenging for persons with limited redesign experience (Dove et al., 2016). Other approaches
claim to have broadened the design space, without having defined its dimensions (Rosemann,
2020;Wurm et al., 2019). The BPR framework (Reijers and Liman Mansar, 2005) offers high-
level design dimensions, but can be too abstract for covering the BPD-Space adequately and
does not come with possible design manifestations (i.e. characteristics) and guiding
questions. This research aims at identifying common process design dimensions together
with potential characteristics to support its exploration. Thus, it aims at providing explicit
ontological guidance during the to-be process design creation to identify and explore possible
redesign alternatives. It thereby contributes to the group of alternative-based redesign
approaches, which are opportunity-driven in nature.
3. Research method
3.1 Taxonomy development
For the derivation of process design dimensions within the BPD-Space, we use the similarities
between the design space concept and taxonomies. A taxonomy provides a systematic
structure and organization to the body of knowledge in a certain field (Glass and Vessey,
1995;Nickerson et al., 2013). This structure builds on a set of dimensions with underlying
characteristics (Nickerson et al., 2013). A taxonomy does not describe objects of interest in full
detail but provides explanations that are useful about the object’s nature (Nickerson et al.,
2013). Similarly, process design dimensions aim to structure and organize the design space of
process redesign alternatives. Process design dimensions are meant to be a useful (and not
necessarily complete) collection for the purpose of exploring redesign alternatives. The
design choices associated with design dimensions should be exhaustive, i.e. every process has
a certain design manifestation in each dimension. This property aligns with the definition of
collective exhaustion of taxonomy characteristics (Nickerson et al., 2013). To emphasize this
aspect and to align with the terminology of the taxonomy development method, we will refer
to the design choices within a design dimension as (potential) characteristics of a dimension.
We use these conceptual similarities to systematically derive the BPD-Space by following
the method for taxonomy development by Nickerson et al. (2013). This method starts by
determining a meta-characteristic that functions as the basis for the later selection of
taxonomy dimensions and characteristics. The selection of this meta-characteristic is based
on the purpose of the taxonomy and its intended use. Then, the taxonomy development
method suggests proceeding iteratively by deriving dimensions and characteristics through
a conceptual-to-empirical (deductive) or an empirical-to-conceptual (inductive) approach until
the predefined ending conditions are met.
3.2 Definition of meta-characteristic and ending conditions
Starting with the taxonomy development process, we first defined the meta-characteristic. In
line with our research question, our meta-characteristic is defined as changeable design
elements of business processes that support the creation of redesign alternatives for business
processes. Therefore, we used the internal (linked) framework elements of the BPR
framework (Reijers and Liman Mansar, 2005). The BPR framework is well established in the
process redesign domain. It consists of six elements to be considered in process redesign
attempts and thus offers an initial set of ontological guidance on a high level of abstraction
(Table 1). For this reason, the BPR framework is a suitable foundation for the purpose of this
paper. Its elements cover process redesign aspects that involve the customer (internal or
external) of the business process, the product/service that is generated for the customer and
the business process itself (the implemented workflow and how it is executed) that generates
this product/service (Reijers and Liman Mansar, 2005). The business process is linked to three
more elements, namely, the participants in the business process (roles, users, groups, etc. and
agents assigned to work), information used or created by the business process and technology
used by the process (Reijers and Liman Mansar, 2005).
Following the taxonomy development method, it is important to determine the ending
conditions that stop the development cycle. Nickerson et al. (2013) differentiate between
objective and subjective ending conditions. For this research, we decided to include the
following ending conditions, which will be checked together with the subjective ending
conditions after each iteration. First, after the last iteration, no new dimension is identified.
Second, there are no dimensions that are split or merged in the last iteration. Third, all
dimensions and characteristics are unique, meaning that there exist no duplicates. To create
the taxonomy, we conducted three iterations. Details are presented in Appendix 2;an
overview of each iteration is provided in sections 3.3 and 3.4.
3.3 Identification of design dimensions –conceptual-to-empirical
First, we identified process design dimensions deductively. We started with the conceptual-
to-empirical approach by building on the current state of literature. Traditionally, process
redesign was grounded in manufacturing logic (Miles, 2008), which is production-oriented.
BPM expanded this production-focused view to a more holistic understanding of processes in
the organizational context. Services, on the other hand, emphasize the value co-creation
between a service provider and service clients (Spohrer et al., 2007). To account for these
diverse ontological perspectives on process redesign, we conducted a literature review and
included relevant scientific articles from the service and process redesign domain. We
included artifacts (frameworks, models, etc.) that are used to describe, analyze or
communicate the design of services and processes. Hence, these artifacts provide design
elements of processes that are relevant for process redesign.
We considered the following artifacts. From the process literature, we include the BPR
framework (Reijers and Liman Mansar, 2005), the work-centered analysis (Alter, 1999) and
work system framework (Alter, 2008,2009), process meta-models (Dumas et al., 2018,p.7;
Laguna and Marklund, 2013, p. 9), the process modeling framework (Melao and Pidd, 2000),
the process profile (Dumas et al., 2018, p. 52; Wagner and Patzak, 2015, p. 393) and the process
canvas (Koutsopoulos and Bider, 2018). From the service domain, we included the service
innovation capability framework (den Hertog et al., 2010), the digital product and service
innovation framework (Nyl
en and Holmstr€
om, 2015), the service design planning model
(Goldstein et al., 2002) and service blueprinting (Bitner et al., 2008). While we do not claim for
completeness, we believe to have selected relevant literature integrating a rich view on
process (and service) redesign. The taxonomy development method will complement this
view through the next iterations.
We derived process design dimensions from the literature as follows. We extracted all
design elements from the previously mentioned artifacts. For each design element, we
identified real-life processes, which deviated from other existing processes with the same
purpose through a specific manifestation of this design element. When at least two such
processes were found, we kept the design element as a design dimension and investigated
relevant literature for its characteristics. For instance, we identified the design dimension
Customer channel, which we derived from Bitner et al. (2008), den Hertog et al. (2010) and
en and Holmstr€
om (2015). We then found two real-life processes, which differed from
existing processes in this dimension. First, we found Webcam Social Shopper from Zugara,
which enables customers to try out different clothing products virtually through an
augmented reality environment (Bonetti et al., 2018). It thereby extends the traditional
website-based customer channel of e-commerce. Second, we identified DocOnline, which is a
digital health-care service provider in India. It offers online access to physicians through
different modes of interaction, e.g. through (text, audio or video) live chat (DocOnline Health
India Ltd, n.d.;Kulshrestha, 2017). It extends the traditional health-care access, which is
usually bound to direct physical interaction. Details on the first iteration can be found in
Appendix, Table A2.
3.4 Identification of design dimensions –empirical-to-conceptual
In the next step, we enriched our conceptual understanding with empirical insights. As the
first objective ending condition (no new dimension has been identified) has not been met, we
conducted a second iteration through the taxonomy development method. For this iteration,
we went through the empirical-to-conceptual approach and inductively derived process
design dimensions. Therefore, we included academic experts. We held a workshop at the end
of 2019 with BPM researchers who were not involved in this research project. Five
researchers participated, out of which one was a visiting associate professor and four were
PhD candidates. We included PhD candidates as academic experts as all studied information
systems and did their research in the field of BPM. The researchers thereby covered a wide
spectrum of process-related topics and thus provided a rich academic view on business
processes. In the course of the workshop, we introduced the concepts of BPD-Space and
design dimensions, followed by the hitherto derived dimensions and examples from the first
iteration. Based on the discussion of the existing design dimensions, we consolidated,
renamed, split or deleted some dimensions. The participants also gave real-life process
redesign examples, which did not fit the initial dimensions. For this reason, we added new
We again went through the empirical-to-conceptual approach by building on the
knowledge of professional process experts who are currently involved in or responsible for
process redesign projects. In total, we conducted six semi-structured interviews (in one more
iteration of the empirical-to-conceptual approach) at the end of 2019 with process experts
from six different organizations (Appendix 1). We chose the interviewees following expert
sampling (Bhattacherjee, 2012), i.e. the experts were purposefully selected from our industry
network, based on their knowledge and expertise in the redesign of processes. To counter
potential biases, we selected experts from various industries and different
Qualitative interviews are well suited to generate rich data in explorative research, as the
respondents’context is been taken into account (Schultze and Avital, 2011). All interviews
were semi-structured (Myers and Newman, 2007) and consisted of four parts. In the first part
of the interview, we introduced the research objective and the current state of the process
design dimensions and characteristics. In the second part, we asked the experts to comment
on the usefulness, understandability and completeness of the design dimensions. In the third
part, we discussed the allocation of the design dimensions to the layers. In the last part, we
encouraged participants to think about real-life process redesigns that were not yet covered
by the existing design dimensions. By following this procedure, we accounted for the main
criteria of model evaluation (Sonnenberg and Vom Brocke, 2012). After the last interview did
not add new design dimensions, nor change the allocation of dimensions to layers, we felt
confident that all ending conditions of the taxonomy development have been met.
3.5 Evaluation of the artifact
We evaluated the resulting BPD-Space in two phases. In the first phase, we used the
previously gained information from the semi-structured expert interviews for a formative
artificial evaluation, as the artifact was still under development (Venable et al., 2016). The
interviewees thereby commented on the usefulness, understandability and completeness of
the artifact’s current state (Sonnenberg and Vom Brocke, 2012). We used this evaluation to
further improve the artifact. Section 5.1 lists a summary of the interviews regarding the
evaluation criteria and the resulting implications.
In the second phase, we validated the applicability and usefulness of the BPD-Space
(Sonnenberg and Vom Brocke, 2012) by performing a summative naturalistic evaluation
(Venable et al., 2016) through three real-world applications. Thereby, we conducted three half-
day workshops in which the design space has been applied together with professionals from
different case organizations. The workshops aimed to find alternative process designs for one
pre-selected organizational process per organization. We deliberately chose organizations
that differed in their context (i.e. industry, size and resources) (Brocke et al., 2016). Details on
context, procedure and results of the application can be found in section 5.2. The resulting
evaluation regarding applicability and usefulness is available in section 5.3.
4.1 Overall structure of the Business Process Design Space
In this section, we lay out the derived process design dimensions, which collectively form the
BPD-Space. By applying the taxonomy development method, we derived 19 dimensions.
Figure 1 summarizes these dimensions and their allocation to six layers that reflect the linked
Product / Service
Dimension DimensionLayer Layer CharacteristicCharacteristic
BPR Framework (Reijers and Mansar 2005)
elements of the BPR framework (Reijers and Liman Mansar, 2005). In the following, we define
each layer and its design dimension, list potential characteristics, guiding questions and an
illustrative example, which describes how a specific characteristic manifestation has changed
the process design in real-world settings. While the dimensions are supposed to be stable over
time, characteristics may be added or changed for some dimensions (e.g. through the
introduction of new technology). For this reason, the listed characteristics are meant to be
illustrative and not exhaustive.
4.2 Dimensions of the Business Process Design Space
The Customer layer comprises dimensions that directly address customer needs and
interactions. The layer includes four design dimensions, namely, Customer segment,
Customer experience,Customer value and Customer channel, which can be found in Table 2.
Customer segments categorize customers with respect to different criteria. Customer
experience refers to “the internal and subjective response customers have to any direct or
indirect contact with a company”(Meyer and Schwager, 2007, p. 2). Customer value refers to
Dimension Guiding question(s) Potential characteristics Redesign example
How can the process
deviate for different
Demographic (e.g. age,
occupation, gender), geographic
(e.g. country, region, population
density), psychographic (e.g.
lifestyle, social or personality
characteristics), behavioral (e.g.
purchasing, consumption or
usage behavior) criteria (Kotler
et al., 2012)
Several airlines participating in
Star Alliance’s customer reward
program Miles and More offer
specialized check-in processes,
depending on the previous
consumption behavior of the
passenger. This ranges from
economy class check-in to first-
Which experience does
the customer gain
through the process?
Active or passive, real or virtual,
mass-produced or customized,
with others or alone, functional
or emotional, pleasurable or
arousing (Knutson and Beck,
Venmo is a social payment
platform that enables its users
to broadcast transactions to a
public transaction feed. By
doing so, it changes the (mobile)
payment process from a private
experience (alone) to a public
experience (with others)
value can the customer
receive through the
Functional (e.g. reduces risk,
reduces costs, simplifies,
quality), emotional (e.g. reduced
anxiety, entertainment, rewards
me), life-changing (motivation,
hope), and social impact (self-
transcendence) (Almquist et al.,
Various airlines introduced the
option for voluntary carbon
offsetting in their booking
processes, e.g. Qantas Airways.
By doing so, the airlines add the
giving the option to have a
social impact during the
How can customers
interact with the
Functional (e.g. websites, emails,
live chats), social (e.g. LinkedIn,
community (e.g. forums and
blogs), and corporate (e.g. forms,
advertisements) (Straker et al.,
DocOnline is a digital health-
care service provider in India,
which offers online access to
physicians through different
modes of interaction, e.g.
through (text, audio or video)
Customer layer of the
the positive outcome of a process or service (Dumas et al., 2018). Value can also be generated
through a specific experience (Bitner et al., 2008;Knutson and Beck, 2004); thus, these two
dimensions are inter-related. Whereas experience is part of every interaction (Jain et al., 2017),
value refers to the perceived benefit of the customer (Goldstein et al., 2002); thus, it is not
necessarily delivered to or perceived by the customer. Customers interact with the process
through a customer channel (Bitner et al., 2008).
The product/service layer comprises dimensions that further define what the process
offers. It includes the dimensions Scope, Flow unit, Location and Temporality (Table 3).
Process Scope refers to the end-to-end perspective of the process and is mainly informed by its
boundaries (Maddern et al., 2014). A Flow unit has been defined as a “transient entity that
Dimension Guiding question(s) Potential characteristics Redesign example
Scope What does the customer
really want to achieve
and (how) can this be
integrated into the
Inclusion or exclusion of
process logic (Ramias, 2018),
i.e. functionalities during the
process execution, which can
be narrow or broad (Dumas
et al., 2018)
The Irish low-budget airline
Ryanair integrated into its
flight booking process the
functionalities to acquire
transfers to the airport/city, get
parking at or close to the
airport and to hire a car. Thus,
the airline changed from a
narrow perspective on the
process (actual transport) to a
broad perspective (entire trip)
Flow unit What/who runs through
the process during its
Unit of input (e.g. a customer,
patient, raw material), a unit of
one or several intermediate
products or components (e.g.
bicycle frame in an assembly
process) or a unit of output (e.g.
a serviced customer or finished
product) (Laguna and
Uber is a multinational ride-
sharing company. Despite the
service of peer-to-peer
ridesharing (Uber ride), the
company also offers transport
of food (Uber Eats) and
patients (Uber Health). While
the basic process of matching
drivers with customers
remains the same, the flow unit
in this process changes
(passenger, food, patients)
Location Where is the process
Where does it start?
Where does it end?
Stationary or mobile (Gratsias
et al., 2005). Stationary can be
bound to a specific position
(e.g. airport, train station,
home) or an area (e.g.
Switzerland or Italy)
Austrian Airlines enables its
customers to drop-off the
luggage at a Viennese train
station, in combination with a
specific train ticket. Thus, the
regular location for dropping-
off the luggage changed from
the airport to the train station
Temporality When is the process
When does it start? When
does it end?
Availability, execution or
termination of a process at a
specific point in time or time-
span, e.g. a certain time of the
day, week, month or a season
of the year (Nivala and
Domino’s Pizza is a
multinational food chain,
which integrated an optional
delivery guarantee into its
delivery process. For an
additional charge, the
customer receives the pizza for
free if the guaranteed delivery
time was not met
of the BPD-Space
proceeds through various activities and finally exits the process as finished output”(Laguna
and Marklund, 2013, p. 5). Location is a key environmental context variable of processes and
captures a position and its topographical information (Zhu et al., 2014). Temporality refers to
the time used to specify the availability and termination of the service or to specialize its
execution (e.g. through specific offers).
The Business processlayer comprises dimensions that further define the operational logic of
the process. It comprises three design dimensions referring to Coordination,Trigger and
Outcome (Table 4). Process Coordination describes how actors, interdependent activities, goals
and resources structure processes (Crowston, 1997) and thus describes how processes are set
up and coordinated to meet different needs. A process Trigger is an event that starts the
process execution (Dumas et al.,2018). While a channel is the medium of interaction, a trigger is
Dimension Guiding question(s) Potential characteristics Redesign example
Coordination How is the process
structured in terms of
activities, events and actors?
Should there be more/less
structure (for specific cases)?
How many variants of the
process exist? Is the
Standard processes (single
variety, repetitive, binary
logic), routine processes
(limited set of variety, similar
but not identical repetition,
fuzzy logic) and non-routine
processes (unlimited set of
interpretative logic) (Lillrank,
A standard shipping
process provided by UPS
allows customers to send
packages. As the address
can change during shipping,
UPS has also established
routine processes to change
an address after an order
has been placed. UPS also
offers customized solutions
where UPS needs to create a
Trigger What/who starts the
Message events (e.g. order is
received, need is identified),
temporal events (e.g. every
Friday morning, every
working day of the month),
conditional events (a business
rule is met) or signal events
(a process starts another
process) (Dumas et al., 2018)
Based on big data analytics
and artificial intelligence,
the e-commerce retailer
calculates a likelihood that a
product is bought by a
customer. Based on this
likelihood, the shipping
process might start even
before the customer actively
decides to buy the product.
Instead of a message trigger
initiated by the customer,
another process is triggering
procedures (signal trigger)
Outcome What are possible ends of
the process? How can we
react to negative outcomes?
Message events (e.g. package
sent, loan approved),
temporal events (e.g. Sunday
night, two weeks after the last
events (a business rule is met),
signal events (another process
ends the process) or error
events (e.g. product not
available) (Dumas et al., 2018)
In the event of an
unexpected delay of train or
flight, Lufthansa Express
Rail will change to another
connection free of charge.
Thus, instead of missing the
connection as the process
outcome, a conditional event
has been added to the
Business process layer
of the BPD-Space
a certain event communicated through this channel and detected by the recipient, which is
followed by certain actions. Process outcomes refer to all legitimate ends of process instances
(Koutsopoulos and Bider, 2018) and can be positive or negative (Dumas et al.,2018). While
positive outcomes deliver value, negative outcomes do not (Koutsopoulos and Bider, 2018).
The Organization layer comprises dimensions that define the strategic organization of the
process. It includes the design dimensions Objectives, Internal participants,Revenue model
and Business partners (Table 5). Objectives are derived from the organization’s vision and
strategy and can be refined by performance measures (Dumas et al., 2018). Objectives depend
on each other by either complementing or conflicting with each other. Process participants refer
to anyone who is directly or indirectly involved in the execution of the process (Alter, 2013).
Dimension Guiding question(s) Potential characteristics Redesign example
Objectives How do we define and
success? What do we
want to achieve with
the process in terms of
Financial (e.g. return on capital,
shareholder value), customer (e.g.
image and reputation, customer
relationships), internal processes
(e.g. improvement of products,
services and processes regarding
quality, time, or flexibility),
learning and growth (e.g.
technology leadership, employee
capabilities), trust (Dumas et al.,
2018;Kaplan and Norton, 1993;
Amazon aims to strengthen the
trust of its customers within its
purchasing process by having
the customer re-confirming the
desire to order if the same item
is ordered for the second time. It
thus follows the objective to be
perceived as valid and reliable,
such that a positive attitude
toward the organization is
embraced (Rosemann, 2019)
Who is doing what
during the process
Process responsibilities (e.g.
process owner, process
managers), competencies or
disciplinary responsibilities of
activities (e.g. for the allocation of
resources or legal matters)
(Lohmann and zur Muehlen,
Emergency services are
increasingly using apps that
notify registered users about
close-by emergencies (e.g.
cardiac attack). Qualified
persons who use the app (e.g.
nurses) are included in the
emergency process to
administer first aid before
How/where can we
Revenue techniques (e.g.
advertising-, commission- or
licensing-based revenue logics)
and revenue sources (e.g. new
revenue models through
digitalization) (Veit et al., 2014)
In the UK-based caf
ZIFERBLAT, customers pay
for the time spent in the venue
and not for their consumption.
While the underlying process
remains similar, the revenue
Which parts of the
process can we
Suppliers (delivering materials or
services to be further processed),
intermediaries (agents between
organization and customers), and
alliance partners (producing
complementary products or
services) (Parker et al., 2016;
Saxena and Bharadwaj, 2009)
With its well-developed
supports producers of books by
acting as an intermediary in the
purchasing process between
producers (e.g. independent
writers) and customers; thus,
the activities related to sales,
marketing and distribution are
outsourced to the business
Organization layer of
Internal participants contribute to value creation as they bring in different competencies and
skills and take over responsibilities in process work. The Revenue model refers to the business
logic to turn customer value into revenues. Digitalization leads to new opportunities to gain
revenue, e.g. through platform ecosystems (Parker et al.,2016). According to Anthony et al.
(2019), digitalization enables organizations toopen up additional sources for revenue that exist
side-by-side the businesscore. Finally, Business partners are external partners that are involved
in the process but are not subordinated to the organization (Dumas et al.,2018). For example,
organizations outsource certain activities that are carried out by partners (e.g. shipping
The Information layer comprises dimensions that focus on the integration and use of
information (Table 6). It includes the design dimension Information source, which refers to the
origin of data integrated into processes. The second dimension, Information usage, captures
how data can contribute to (new) value creation for the customer or to the business value of
The Technology layer focusses on dimensions that address the use of software and
hardware to support the process. In light of the advent of sophisticated digital technologies,
this layer has been receiving increasing attention (Breuker et al., 2016). As technology is an
enabler for many dimensions within the design space (e.g. new customer channels), we
introduce two design dimensions, namely, Infrastructure and Automation (Table 7). On the
one hand, technologies can be used to provide Infrastructures enabling the execution of the
process. On the other hand, technology can be used for Automation purposes (van der Aalst
et al., 2018), i.e. “hardware/software configurations that perform totally automated activities”
(Alter, 2013). In this context, specific activity sequences or parts of the process are being
automated by technologies.
5. Evaluation of the Business Process Design Space
To evaluate the BPD-Space, we conducted a formative artificial evaluation (Venable et al.,
2016) through interviews with process experts while the artifact was still under development
Dimension Guiding question(s) Potential characteristics Redesign example
How can we integrate
into the process?
Internal (existing or self-
generated) or external (acquired,
customer provided, free
available; e.g. social media or
web-crawled) (Hartmann et al.,
Social media analysis
providers, such as Awario,
enable organizations to
monitor customer satisfaction,
brand reputation and other
indicators in real-time through
publicly shared social media
posts. Thus, organizations do
not solely depend on directly
customer provided data
How can we use the
gathered in the
analytics (descriptive, predictive,
distribution of process data
(Hartmann et al., 2014)
US-based The Weather
Company is primarily
concerned with weather
forecasts. It started to sell
weather data to retailers and
advertisers, enabling them to
apply weather-based selling
strategies (e.g. Walmart can
increase the stock of rain
protection gear or adjust
Information layer of
(Section 5.1). Additionally, we evaluated its applicability and usefulness through three real-
world applications in different organizations (sections 5.2 and 5.3). We thereby covered
evaluation activities associated with a summative naturalistic evaluation (Venable
et al., 2016).
5.1 Insight from the expert interviews
Through the expert interviews, we gained the following insights. Regarding usefulness, all
practitioners deemed the BPD-Space as a valuable artifact during process redesign projects.
One expert specifically mentioned that the approach is “very helpful in the course of actual
consulting projects.”Two of the six process experts pointed out that it is not clear which
dimension to focus on during redesign projects in their respective organizations, and that the
derived dimensions may be too detailed for top management considerations. Two process
experts who consult external clients mentioned that the dimensions to focus on in actual
consulting projects are determined by the scope of the project, which should be defined before
applying the BPD-Space. Some dimensions were also deemed as rather strategic management
considerations, which might not be part of every process redesign project. One expert
mentioned that the dimensions to consider in redesign projects mainly depend on “the
strategic importance of the redesign project within the organization and the people involved
in the project.”The experts recommended that additional guidance on the application of the
BPD-Space would be useful. We responded to this comment by offering application
guidelines in section 6.2.
The professional process experts also evaluated the understandability and completeness of
the approach. Regarding understandability, one expert proposed to change the representation
of the dimensions, such that layers, dimensions and characteristics are visible in one
Dimension Guiding question(s) Potential characteristics Redesign example
Infrastructure Which software or
hardware could support
and in what ways?
Ability to support process-
related needs, e.g. by
activities and events (e.g.
different BPMS solutions)
(Pourmirza et al., 2017)or
storing, distributing and
information (e.g. different
aki et al., 2018)
Process management solutions,
e.g. Signavio Process Manager,
support organizations to model,
communicate, execute and
monitor their business
Automation How can event detection,
activity execution or
information exchange of
the process be
Sensors to detect start,
intermediate and end events
(e.g. temperature or
movement sensors), activity
automation (e.g. machine
learning, natural language
processing, robotic process
exchange (e.g. RFID, NFC,
IBM Watson Explorer is used
by insurance companies to
analyze structured and
unstructured data associated
with insurance claims. Based on
machine learning, Watson
recommendations on whether a
claim is eligible and to what
extent the damage should be
covered. It thus semi-automates
the insurance claim handling
Technology layer of
summarizing representation. We included this consideration for our representation of the
design space (Figure 1). All experts commented that the underlying idea behind the design
space is understandable. One expert found the given redesign examples valuable for
understanding the design dimensions. Regarding completeness, three experts proposed the
introduction of new characteristics. This feedback has been incorporated into the resulting
design space. Overall, the BPD-Space and its underlying idea have been found to be a novel
and stimulating approach for process redesign.
5.2 Real-world applications
We conducted three real-world applications. The corresponding organizations were a
financial technology startup, a large-scale medical diagnostic organization and a mid-sized
transmission system operator. All organizations are headquartered in Central Europe. This
set of organizations allowed us to evaluate the design space in a variety of industry contexts.
We started all workshops by explaining the research context, the underlying idea behind the
design space concept and the BPD-Space. Consecutively, we presented the design
dimensions. One at a time, we introduced the respective dimension and applied it to the
process of the case organization. The participants explored how the respective design
dimension is currently represented. Subsequently, they identified other potential
characteristics (i.e. design manifestations of the design dimension in focus) and used them
for the creation of to-be process ideas. The first design dimension was in the customer layer,
and we further proceeded by considering the participant’s interest until the allocated time for
the idea creation was over. In what follows below, we describe the case organizations, the
process in focus and the resulting redesign ideas. Appendix 3 offers a list of additional
redesign ideas that were created throughout the three workshops.
5.2.1 Application 1 –financial technology startup. We conducted the first real-world
application with the financial technology startup baningo (Baningo, 2020). The chief
executive officer (CEO) as well as the head of customer relations of baningo participated. We
focused on “baningo-select,”which is a service that supports customers in finding
appropriate financial advisors through matching algorithms. The platform thereby mediates
between clients and financial advisors, e.g. by providing a tool to schedule appointments, and
through data protection compliant text and video chat functionalities. The service can be
embedded in the website of financial institutions (e.g. banks). Roughly speaking, the process
commences after a customer provides initial information online before being matched with a
During the workshop, the participants used nine design dimensions and created 14
redesign ideas. For instance, the application of the outcome design dimension (which refers to
alternative process endings) led to the creation of two redesign ideas; one was to recommend
another financial advisor to the customer in case an ongoing consultation did not solve a
specific customer need or if the customer was unhappy with the quality of the consultation.
Therefore, the customer should have the option to indicate the perceived satisfaction after
each consultation. Based on this information, an alternative advisor can be recommended by
the system, if required and available. The other idea was to recommend other advisors to the
customer in case the customer moves to a different location. Both design ideas were not
covered by the current process.
5.2.2 Application 2 –large-scale medical diagnostic organization. The second case
organization was Labnetic (pseudonym). Labnetic is a globally operating large-scale
organization specialized in medical diagnostics. In this workshop, the global business process
manager and process owner participated. The process in focus was the preventive
maintenance process for medical diagnostic instruments of business customers, e.g.
molecular diagnostics devices for medical laboratories. It comprised activities related to
scheduling, planning and executing the maintenance of devices. Labnetic contacts its
customers on a regular basis to schedule appointments. The back office then assigns an
available service engineer to conduct the maintenance at the customer’s site.
The participants used 13 design dimensions and developed 18 redesign ideas for the
maintenance process. For example, the design dimension customer segment (i.e. to differ
the process based on specific customer characteristics) led to two ideas. One was to segment
the customers based on location accessibility. To effectively serve remote customers (e.g. in
rural areas), the process should have an additional activity that is concerned with
permanently checking the travel costs (e.g. flight fares). The customers then receive possible
maintenance dates, when travel costs were identified as comparably low. The second idea
was to segment customers based on downtime flexibility of the device(s) to be maintained.
Less flexible customers should thereby be offered a wider range of possible maintenance
dates from which they could choose. This is expected to result in fewer iterations for finding
an appropriate date.
5.2.3 Application 3 –mid-sized transmission system operator. The third application of the
BPD-Space took place with ELECTRO (pseudonym), a mid-sized transmission system
operator. The company is responsible for controlling, operating and maintaining the
transmission system for electrical power. The head of process management and a business
process manager of the organization participated in the workshop. The participants decided
to focus on a core process, namely, the provision of a new grid connection process for end
customers. Roughly speaking, the process entails that a customer contacts ELECTRO and
provides initial information. Once an order is signed, it is saved in the organizational SAP
system and the construction plans are created. These are then forwarded to a contracting
company. The contracting company independently arranges an appointment with the
customer and carries out the task. Once the new grid connection is provided, ELECTRO pays
the contracting company, bills the customer and files a completion report for the new grid
For the new grid connection process of ELECTRO, ten redesign ideas were created based
on eight design dimensions. One process redesign idea emerged from the reflection on the
dimension trigger. The idea was to (optionally) remind the customer through email or phone
to apply for a new grid connection once the construction site power supply has been granted.
The construction site power supply is usually required for the construction work, but it is
independent of the subsequent connection of the household to the transmission system. The
reminder would help to avoid late grid connection applications by using an earlier encounter
with the customer to initiate the process. Another redesign idea was developed with the
design dimension information source. The contracting company gathers status information
about arrangements, plans and problems between the third party and the customer. This
information is not shared with ELECTRO in the current process. The information can then be
used to send the customer a reminder about upcoming construction work on the site and to
have all information gathered in the customer portal as a single source of documentation.
5.3 Applicability and usefulness
As for applicability, practitioners from all real-world applications found the BPD-Space
suitable for the generation of redesign alternatives. Workshop participants from baningo
noted that once an alternative characteristic manifestation of a design dimension has been
identified, it can be challenging to move on to another potential characteristic. Furthermore,
we observed that generated redesign ideas sometimes affect more than one design dimension.
For instance, a new information source may also be used as a trigger. We also found that we
can use design dimensions of a previously generated redesign idea to jump between the
design dimensions, instead of iterating through all dimensions consecutively. The guiding
questions and potential characteristics were perceived as particularly helpful to understand
the direction and intention of a design dimension. Labnetic and baningo both reported that
these are important to understand and apply the dimensions in a given context. In general, the
practitioners found the design dimensions to be more suitable for generating redesign
alternatives compared to process model representations, as it abstracts from “irrelevant
implementation details”and does not require process modeling knowledge (Labnetic).
As for usefulness, baningo found the BPD-Space “very supportive”during the creation of
process redesign alternatives, as it “supported the structured analysis of the process through
different perspectives.”Participants from the first two workshops considered the majority of
generated redesign alternatives useful and feasible for future changes to the process. This
indicates that the BPD-Space helps create adequate redesign alternatives. ELECTRO noted
that the BPD-Space provides a “good guideline to completely screen a process in various
respects,”especially for less prominent processes in the organization. The practitioners also
noted that it was challenging to find entirely new process designs for the new grid connection
process. This might be due to the specific context of ELECTRO. As a monopolist, it needs to
account for a high number of regulations that limit the number of alternatives within the
design space. In a similar vein, participants from baningo noted that some constraints have
been disregarded during the creation of redesign alternatives, which may make some
redesign ideas less likely to be implemented in the near future. In general, the BPD-Space has
been perceived to trigger the creation of more ambitious ideas by thinking into directions that
would have been disregarded in regular brainstorming sessions. In this regard, it helps as a
“mental liberation”(baningo) to break out of normal thought patterns and constraints.
Labnetic noted that the design dimensions helped to shift the focus away from technology-
centered redesign ideas, indicating that most of their redesign initiatives usually focus on
technology-related dimensions, but tend to exclude most other dimensions.
6.1 Implications for research and practice
In the following, we will discuss the implications that follow from this research. First and
foremost, we provide comprehensive ontological guidance during the to-be process creation.
While existing approaches provide important reference points to look at processes (e.g.
Reijers and Mensa, 2005), we zoom into the underlying dimensions and characteristics.
Thereby, we direct designers’attention to various aspects that are part of a specific process
but might not be explicitly considered. This can be the case, for example, when specific
components of a process are taken for granted and are not questioned during redesign
activities. Hence, the BPD-Space can be used to explore, question and rethink a process in
various respects. This work reflects the first attempt to organize and synthesize the various
dimensions and underlying characteristics involved in process redesign.
Exploring the BPD-Space also provides initial procedural guidance for the creation of
process redesign alternatives. Existing redesign methods provide structure for the overall
redesign project, but have hardly shown to provide directions during the to-be process
creation. Exploring the BPD-Space, e.g. in a workshop setting, also comes with initial
procedural guidance for the creation of alternative to-be process designs. Building on the idea
of design space analysis (Maclean et al., 1991), users of the design space can iterate through its
dimensions and use the guiding questions to analyze current and alternative characteristic
manifestations. By combining different manifestations, alternative process designs can
thereby be generated. However, while our application guidelines support the procedural
perspective, a method for providing full procedural guidance is yet to be developed.
It is important to note that the BPD-Space is not competing with but complementing
existing process redesign approaches. Existing methods and techniques use different
rationales for the redesign endeavor (Table 1). The BPD-Space can be a valuable means to
create to-be processes during the redesign phase of other redesign methods, e.g. in the course
of interaction-based approaches like NESTT (Rosemann, 2017). It can also be applied in
conjunction with other techniques of process redesign, e.g. with pattern-based approaches
like the explorative process design patterns (Rosemann, 2020). The BPD-Space itself can be
classified into the group of alternative-based redesign approaches, as it aims to identify and
explore a wide range of process design alternatives. It thereby builds on and extends the BPR
framework (Reijers and Liman Mansar, 2005), while it also provides a language for applying
the process grammar (Lee et al., 2008).
The BPD-Space abstracts from specific process flows and representations of processes. It
thereby enables an unconstrained exploration of various alternative process designs. Users of
the process dimensions are not influenced (or limited) in their thinking by detailed process
descriptions, as in form of process models. Research on nudging, and digital nudging in
specific, has shown that human thinking and human choice is significantly influenced by the
way information about choice is presented (Weinmann et al., 2016). By abstracting from the
inner flow and details of a process but highlighting the design dimensions instead, it stands to
reason that process designers are nudged more toward thinking ways of conducting a
process that is influenced less by the current practice of conducting a process, so in other
words, to find more innovative ways of conducting a process.
The BPD-Space can be used to realize explorative BPM. Following recent claims that BPM
activities should become more ambidextrous (Grisold et al., 2019;Rosemann, 2020), we argue
that the proposed BPD-Space can serve as a starting point for exploration, i.e. to identify new
opportunities for organizations. Here, it is important to highlight the distinction between
design dimensions and characteristics. The design dimensions we have identified are meant
to be stable over time. However, new characteristics may emerge and change, e.g. due to new
developments and innovations. Thereby, design dimensions can serve as a means to scan and
categorize dynamics in an organization’s environment and to translate them into concrete
implications for processes (Grisold et al., 2019). This holds especially for the technology layer,
where continuous research and development lead to new technological features.
Finally, the BPD-Space allows exploring design alternatives for different types of
processes. Research on the role of context has found that processes differ regarding various
characteristics, such as variability, repetitiveness or uncertainty (Brocke et al., 2016). While
most of the process design research has focused on well-structured and repetitive processes,
the need for process design in organizations, however, is rather in the non-repetitive,
knowledge-intensive and creative processes. In this regard, the BPD-Space provides a means
to explore design alternatives thinking out of the box across all processes types, which is
highly needed in practice.
6.2 Guidelines for application
The three real-world applications of the BPD-Space demonstrated its potential for the
exploration of process redesign alternatives. To support future users, we provide the
following guidelines for applying the BPD-Space based on our insights from the formative
and summative evaluation:
(1) Ahead of iterating through and applying the design dimensions, determine which
dimensions are especially useful in the context of the application (e.g. based on the
goal of the redesign endeavor) and focus on these. Context-based constraints might
also cause the exclusion of design dimensions.
(2) Predefine specific time slots (e.g. 20 min for each design dimension) to ensure a wide
coverage of design dimensions and to prevent idea fixation. Make adequate breaks to
ensure mental focus and creativity.
(3) When applying the BPD-Space, first allow for and encourage an unconstraint
creation of redesign ideas before prioritizing these according to weighted evaluation
criteria (e.g. feasibility, viability and desirability).
(4) In the course of a workshop, provide a visual representation of the BPD-Space to
navigate through the workshop and to provide a shared understanding and
language. Allocating the layers to different walls of the room can further support the
interaction during a workshop.
(5) To prevent a potential anchoring effect around the first redesign idea of a design
dimension, aim to apply more than one characteristic within one design dimension.
(6) To prevent a potential anchoring effect and to adapt the BPD-Space to the context of
its application, explore other potential characteristics (i.e. design manifestations of
dimensions) for each design dimension, which are not yet mentioned in the BPD-
(7) For each generated redesign idea, note which design dimensions are affected to detect
if a wide range of the design space is covered (or which design dimensions are
(8) In a workshop setting, break out into sub-groups when generating redesign ideas to
cover a wider range of ideas, if group size allows.
6.3 Limitations and future research
Our research comes with limitations. First, design dimensions do not aimfor completenessbut
have to be useful for an intended purpose and audience, similar to dimensions in taxonomies
(Nickerson et al.,2013). Although the derived BPD-Space has been evaluated as useful by
professional process experts and in the course of three real-world applications, there might be
application scenarios in which additional design dimensions could be helpful. In line with the
extendibility requirement of taxonomy development (Nickerson et al.,2013), the design space
should be continuously challenged and further developed by future applications and research.
Second, the derived design dimensions are implementation-independent, i.e. rather abstract
design considerations. The actual implementation (on a process model level) of a specific
manifestation of designdimensions can take various forms and is again a creative task.We find
this abstraction useful to detach from process model-specific constraints and biases. However,
the interrelation of design dimensions and process models is not yet researched.
We see two main avenues for future research. On the one hand, descriptive research is
required to explore how and under which circumstances the use of design dimensions can
lead to innovative design outcomes. For example, it should be investigated if there are
contexts where the use of these dimensions is more valuable than in others or if there are
dominant strategies to combine or reconfigure specific dimensions. On the other hand, despite
our application guidelines, prescriptive research should evaluate and propose how these
dimensions should be used in redesign projects. While the BPD-Space provides a
comprehensive ontological perspective on the creation of process redesign alternatives, it
only offers moderate procedural guidance. Therefore, it should be investigated how a method
can systematically guide through the BPD-Space and which dimensions should be
emphasized taking into consideration the context of the redesign project. This also
includes guidance on how to integrate the BPD-Space into existing process redesign
approaches. Additionally, evaluation criteria should be defined to prioritize the high number
of resulting redesign alternatives (Nygren et al., 2017). Overall, we call for future research in
the area of systematic creation of process design alternatives to foster improvement and
innovation of processes.
Following recent calls to support the systematic redesign of processes (Grisold et al., 2019;
Gross et al., 2019;Zellner, 2011), we defined the BPD-Space for systematically exploring the
design space of processes and, in this way, address the challenges associated with the to-be
process design creation (Grisold et al., 2019;Sharp and Mcdermoot, 2009, p. 323; Vanwersch
et al., 2015;Zellner, 2011). Accordingly, to facilitate the exploration of alternative process
designs, we developed the BPD-Space, which is structured into six layers and 19
corresponding dimensions, complemented by various characteristics and guiding
questions. To derive these design dimensions, we made use of the taxonomy development
method provided by Nickerson et al. (2013) and synthesized both, knowledge from the
academic literature and knowledge from practitioners. We evaluated the usefulness and
applicability of the approach by three real-world applications according to evaluation
guidelines (Venable et al., 2016). The BPD-Space fills a gap of process redesign research by
providing ontological and procedural guidance during the actual act of creating new to-be
process designs. It also offers concrete guidance for practitioners who undertake redesign
activities to break out of conventional thinking.
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Steven Gross can be contacted at: email@example.com
Background information on professional process experts (interviewees)
To substantiate our results, we included six professional process experts into the third iteration of the
deployed taxonomy development method. We thereby included a professional perspective on the
process redesign task, after accounting for an academic perspective in the first two iterations. All
experts were experienced with process redesign projects in different domains. Three process experts (I1,
I2, I3) were process consultants (all operating in central Europe) focusing on medium and large-sized
organizations in various industries. One expert (I4) consulted start-ups and entrepreneurs in Austria,
thus mainly focused on the design of new BPs. The last two experts were responsible for BPM and
related activities within their organizations, which were large-sized organizations, in the
telecommunication (I5) and finance (I6) industry in Central Europe. More details on the interviewees
can be found in Table A1.
Iterations of the taxonomy development
To provide details on the taxonomy development process, Table A2 lists all iterations and gives details
on the applied approach, the number of dimensions and layers, the identification or modification of
dimensions and layers and, finally, the fulfillment of the predefined ending conditions.
ID Current position/job title
background Industry Employees
I1 Management consultant >18 years Business
I2 CEO/process consultant >24 years Engineering Service –business
I3 Authorized officer/
>15 years Economics Service –business
I4 CEO/chief disruptor >18 years Business
I5 Process and quality
>13 years Business
I6 Settlement and collateral
>2 years Information
Overview of the
dimensions Derived layers and dimensions Ending conditions
8/28 Layers: customer, product and services, business process (operational view), business process (behavioral view),
organization (structure), organization (population), information, technology
Dimensions: user experience, customer interaction, value proposition, channels, trigger, outcome, purpose, strategic
goal, measures, participants, revenue model, business partner, suppliers, process boundary, interfaces, initiation of
instance, constraints, means, devices, physical evidence, visible contact, line of interaction, information,
infrastructure, processes and activities, related processes, output, information
✗Objective ending conditions
not met: no new dimensions
✗Subjective ending conditions
not met: comprehensiveness
(1) Customer, product and services, organization, information, technology →no changes
(2) Business process (operational and behavioral view) →consolidated: business process
(3) Organization (structure and population) →consolidated: organization
(1) User experience →renamed: customer experience
(2) Customer interaction and line of interaction and channels and interfaces and visible contact and
devices →consolidated: customer channel
(3) Value proposition →renamed: customer value
(4) Process boundary →renamed: scope
(5) Process and activities →renamed: coordination
(6) Trigger and initiation of instance →consolidated: trigger
(7) Outcome and output →consolidated: outcome
(8) Purpose and strategic goal and measures →consolidated: objective
(9) Participants →renamed: internal participants
(10) Revenue model →no changes
(11) Business partner and suppliers →consolidated: business partner
(12) Information →split: information source and information use
(13) Infrastructure →no changes
(14) Constraints, means, physical evidence →deleted
(15) Customer segment, flow unit, location, temporality, automation →added
✗Objective ending conditions
not met: no new dimensions
were added; no dimensions are
split or merged
6/19 Layers: customer, product and services, business process, organization, information, technology →no changes
Dimensions: customer segment, customer experience, customer value, customer channel, flow unit, location,
temporality, scope, coordination, trigger, outcome, objective, internal participant, revenue model, business partner,
information source, information use, infrastructure, automation
After the sixth interview
UObjective ending conditions
to the iterations of the
Selected redesign ideas from the real-world applications of the Business Process
In section 5.2 of the research paper, we describe three real-world applications of the BPD-Space and
exemplary redesign ideas for the respective processes. The following tables offer additional redesign
ideas that were created in the course of these workshops. Triggering dimension indicates which design
dimension sparked the corresponding redesign idea.
Generated process redesign alternatives
Segment customers based on age: younger customers answer process-related
questions through relevant pictures, while older customers answer through text
Automatic detection of customer segments based on customer and device-specific
New users can receive service-related information from friends or family members,
e.g. their products and choices (if they consent)
Offering the functionality for customers to share profiles of consultants for the
referral to friends and family members
Scheduling and offering online group consultations, e.g. for members of a family Customer experience
Offering a forum on the platform in which customers can ask (anonymous) questions
and consultants can answer
Offering the platform for similar matching problems between customers and experts,
e.g. for lawyers
Filtering for currently available consultants for an instant online consultation Temporality
In case the family situation changes, initiate the consultation process with context-
Use Apple wallet to share the business card of a consultant with the customer Business partner
Expand the scope of the process by integrating other actors into the platform to cover
the whole use case of the customer, e.g. lawyers for real estate financing
Advertise the service and/or specific consultants through flyer and posters with QR
codes, which directly link to the consultant on the platform
Provide the possibility to indicate if a consultation was useful (in the form of ratings),
such that this information is provided for other customers
redesign ideas for
Generated process redesign alternatives Triggering dimension
Offer maintenance activities outside of the laboratory operating hours (saves time) Customer value
Integrate customer training with the maintenance activities (rewards me) Customer value
Integrate the modification of devices (e.g. an required update or security fix) with
maintenance activities, two previously separated processes
Offer the customer to conduct the maintenance guided by a remote service engineer
and supported by video chat and/or augmented reality technology
Offer the maintenance on-demand instead of having fixed intervals, e.g. after a certain
throughput has been reached
During the maintenance-related downtime, offer to provide test results through
partnering laboratories nearby (if possible)
In case a customer cannot schedule an appointment at a date/time of convenience,
offer the option to schedule a more remote service engineer at additional costs
Gather information at the customers site regarding competitor devices used for future
Gather and aggregate attrition data during the device maintenance, which can be
used by the R&D department for adaptations of existing or design of future devices
Build and operate a customer facing portal, which can be used to schedule
Integrate a scheduling system to best utilize service engineers, e.g. to schedule
maintenance activities that are geographically close on the same day/week
Generated process redesign alternatives Triggering dimension
Using social media to interact with the customer, e.g. in case of questions or status
Send SMS to update customer about the processing status Customer channel
Provide option to order an all-inclusive package, including the provision of a new grid
connection as well as all home connections
Provide option to book accompanying workshops, e.g. regarding electricity safety-
Send the customer monthly updates about the energy consumption of the household,
e.g. to indicate significant changes in the consumption behavior
Provide a platform on which customers can exchange construction and household-
Enable more employees at different positions to provide customer services or to
accept an order, e.g. a client advisor at a brand office or an administrative assistant at
Use robotic process automation to support order entries or contract building Automation
redesign ideas for
redesign ideas for