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A challenging success: a process audit perspective on change

Alison Parkes (Department of Accounting & Business Information Systems, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia)
Michael Davern (Department of Accounting & Business Information Systems, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia)

Business Process Management Journal

ISSN: 1463-7154

Article publication date: 8 November 2011




The purpose of this paper is to explore how success emerges in a business process change initiative, given the often conflicting forces and challenges present in a workflow implementation. A detailed reflective analysis provides an opportunity to explore how different process enablers interact to achieve non‐obvious outcomes.


Data collection entailed semi‐structured interviews, observation of project activities, and analysis of project documentation for a workflow project at a public sector organisation (AustGov). Data collection occurred from project initiation to implementation and is analysed utilizing the process enterprise maturity model.


Despite encountering numerous issues, the process workflow went live as planned; the project was a success. The case demonstrates how project drivers interact in context to provide a coherent explanation of project outcomes. That the project did not fail, despite encountering obstacles and challenges, is attributed to the maturity of critical process enablers within the portfolio.

Research limitations/implications

The AustGov case study provides an exemplar of how and why interrelationships between process enablers and project context matter. The case analysis provides a rich study of a workflow project, and demonstrates the suitability of the process audit framework to explain outcomes of business process change projects.

Practical implications

The findings demonstrate the importance of managing interdependencies and competing priorities between process enablers to successfully implement business process change.


The case provides a rich example of the implementation of business process change using workflow software. The authors find that achieving successful outcomes in a challenging environment is best understood when viewed from the perspective of the maturity of a portfolio of project enablers; also, that attention needs to be paid to developing advanced maturity in those enablers most closely related to the specific challenges evident in the project context.



Parkes, A. and Davern, M. (2011), "A challenging success: a process audit perspective on change", Business Process Management Journal, Vol. 17 No. 6, pp. 876-897.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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