It is a pleasure to write the introduction to this wonderful book on Business Process Management (BPM) cases. On the one hand, the BPM cases illustrate the maturity of the field. On the other hand, the book also shows that there are still many open challenges. In fact, there is a continuous need to show that BPM indeed adds value and helps organizations to improve. The editors, Jan vom Brocke and JanMendling, understand this perfectly and did a great job in bringing together a range of authors and experiences.

In this foreword, I would like to briefly reflect on developments in the field. In 2003 we organized the first International Conference on BPM in Eindhoven. This was the time were BPM was an emerging topic following the workflow manage- ment wave of the 1990s. The conference was an immediate success and this year we are celebrating the 15th edition of the BPM conference in Barcelona. BPM is no longer a “hot topic”, but has become the “new normal”. Process orientation, something which was previously seen as something exotic, has become common- place for most organizations. Moreover, BPM has become more much evidence- based, exploiting the abundance of event data available. However, the actual practice of BPM is scarcely documented in literature. Scientific papers tend to focus on a particular aspect or technique. Articles written by practitioners or so-called “opinion leaders” are often shallow and just a concatenation of buzzwords. Therefore, this book is a very welcome addition! Clarence “Skip” Ellis (1943–2014) gave a keynote at the first BPM conference in 2003. He was one of the pioneers in Workflow Management, Computer- Supported Cooperative Work, and BPM. Skip Ellis developed office automation prototypes such as Officetalk-Zero and Officetalk-D at Xerox PARC in the late 1970s. These systems used Information Control Nets, a variant of Petri nets, to model processes. In a way the basics are the same, e.g., there is a still a focus on process diagrams and process automation. However, looking at the BPM cases in this book demonstrates that also many things have changed dramatically. Real-life projects show that modeling and automation are not the ultimate goal. BPM needs to add value and help organizations to continuously improve and disruptively innovate their processes.

The BPM cases in this book relate to different core elements of BPM, namely Strategic and Governance (Part I), Methods (Part II), Information Technology (Part III), and People and Culture (Part IV). The contributions cover different parts of the BPM lifecycle. These actual cases also nicely relate to my own 20 BPM Use Cases elaborated in the survey paper “Business Process Management: A Comprehensive Survey” (ISRN Software Engineering, 2013, 507984). Whereas the 20 BPM Use Cases identify the core BPM building blocks, the cases in this book aim to describe end-to-end BPM projects. The first chapter provides a nice taxonomy to position the 31 real-world BPM cases. Different angles are used to show the richness of the BPM discipline. The cases are presented in a unified format, making them accessible and easy to comprehend.

How about the future of BPM? I strongly believe that the spectacular growth of event data is rapidly changing our BPM discipline. It makes no sense to focus on process modeling (including model-based analysis and model-based process auto- mation) without considering the torrents of factual data in and between today’s organizations. Recent developments in process mining make it possible to use process models as the “lens” to look at (low) level event data. Such a “process lens” helps to understand and solve compliance- and performance-related problems. The focus on data analysis is good, but should not frustrate process- orientation. In the end, good processes are more important than information systems and conventional analytics. The old phrase “It’s the process stupid” is still valid.

I hope you enjoy reading the book and learn from the many practical experiences condensed in the 31 real-world BPM cases reported.

Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Wil van der Aalst
March 2017