Business process management (BPM) is commonly defined as “a systemic, structured approach to analyze, improve, control, and manage processes with the aim of improving the quality of products and services” . In other words, BPM takes care of processes in order to fulfill business objectives.
BPM defines four basic principles  that you must follow in order to successfully “take care of processes”. In this article the first principle, ‘Processes are assets’ is presented. In addition, we will investigate the role that BPMN plays in support of the first principle.
What are Assets?
The term “asset” can be defined as any item of economic value owned by an individual or corporation, especially that which could be converted into cash. According to the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) , assets can be one of the following types:
- financial capital.
These assets are basically divided into two categories: ‘resources’ and ‘capabilities’ :
- Resources are the tangible assets of an organization. Resources in a company are: infrastructure, people, money, software or anything else that might help to deliver a product or a service.
- Capabilities are the intangible assets of an organization. They represent the ability of an organization, person, process, application, configuration item or service to carry out an activity.
As figure 2 show, people can simultaneously represent a resource (people are frequently an instrumental in delivering a service) and a capability (people carry out activities). The product or service of an organization will be dependent on how capabilities use resources (develop, deploy and coordinate) . This means that, in a simplified view, resources can be acquired: if we have money and the resource is available, then we can buy it. Capabilities, however, take time to build up.
They are also generally harder to copy by competition, providing the organization with a source of sustainable competitive advantage in the market.
The first BPM principle states that “Business processes are organizational assets that are central to creating value for customers”. This principle gives business processes a central role within organizational assets, stating that processes are “central to creating value for customers”. Business processes are important because they deliver value for the customer by connecting other organizational assets into a flow of activities (see Figure 1).
How Does BPMN Support the 1st BPM Principle?
BPMN supports the first BPM principle because it enables the visual representation of business processes in a standardized way. With BPMN it is possible to link different types of organizational assets into a flow of activities that fulfil a common objective – usually a product or service for a customer. The next figure shows an example of a collaboration process between a customer and a pizza vendor.
This article has discussed the first BPMN principle, which states that “Business processes are organizational assets that are central to creating value for customers”. Business processes are important because they represent the way in which value is delivered to customers. In addition, their competitive potential can be derived from the fact that they cannot be easily copied or acquired. Instead, they can only be developed organically for a specific organizational context.
BPMN supports the first BPM principle because that standard enables organizations to visually represent the interrelationships between different types of assets during the delivery of common objectives.
The next article will show how BPMN supports the second BPM principle.
 J. F. Chang, Business Process Management Systems: Strategy and Implementation, 1st ed. Auerbach Publications, 2005.