Vlerick was one of the first to set up a Centre for Excellence in Business Process Management. Over the years it has built up huge expertise in business process management (BPM) and business process innovation. The Centre is about to celebrate its tenth anniversary, something it has in common with our new Prime Foundation Partner and sponsor of the Centre, ViCre. And there’s more we have in common. Eddy Helsen, Managing Director of ViCre, and Professor Stijn Viaene tell why and how the partnership came about and what they plan to achieve.
“All too often BPM falls short of delivering on its ultimate objective of end-to-end transformation. Its impact then remains limited to either piecemeal or continuous improvement efforts. We felt it was time to set the agenda for a new era of BPM – transformational BPM,” explains Stijn Viaene. “Our white paper ‘Transformation through Process’ collects a series of interviews with academics and practitioners arguing in favour of using BPM to support innovation and transformation, by leveraging new technologies to fundamentally rethink BPM and by adopting a holistic, outside-in approach to business transformation. Rather than starting from your own processes, you should consider the processes of your customers or other players in your ecosystem. These are not necessarily revolutionary ideas, but the practice lags behind.”
It’s a match
Stijn Viaene and Vlerick researcher, Joachim Van den Bergh, the driving force behind the Centre since the start, were convinced that despite the discipline being around for so long, there was still enough to be done. They set out to find a new partner who shared their vision and in ViCre they found their match.
Eddy Helsen agrees: “We’ve become a partner because we empathise with the School’s mission. Enjoy change is also what ViCre is about. And we’re definitely on the same page as far as business transformation is concerned. Indeed it’s not about inventing or developing new processes for the sake of doing so. Business transformation should lead to innovation.” He pauses before adding: “I feel this partnership is also the reward for years of hard but smart work. We’re pleased to be able to work together with an academic partner of this calibre.”
Result-driven or Have a say
The Centre brings together three complementary parties: the member companies looking for fresh ideas and actionable insights to help them solve their issues and challenges, a business partner with hands-on expertise, i.e. ViCre, and practice-oriented academic researchers, i.e. Stijn Viaene and his team. “Together with ViCre we’ve set the agenda for the years to come,” he says.
Eddy Helsen nods. “Which is exactly why we’ve opted for a Prime Foundation Partnership, because it gives us a say in the direction of the research. Also the fact that there will be frequent contacts between us and the research team as well as periodic, tangible deliverables appealed to us.” He smiles as he adds: “After all, we’re business people, we’re result-driven.”
For now, the objectives are summarised in three research questions: (1) how to make business transformation more accessible, (2) how to identify success and (3) how to capture knowledge developed along the way.
The Centre will be organising several interactive workshops for its members in the form of group discussions, business cases, presentations by national and international guest lecturers from academia and industry and so on. Some of these workshops will be based on joint research or surveys. Stijn Viaene: “Our activities should result in academic publications, white papers and possible new tools to complement our Business Process Orientation Assessment Tool. These deliverables would benefit the members of the Centre, and could also be put to use by ViCre in client projects and in class, in some of our programmes.”
“We’re absolutely looking forward participating in applied research into business transformation and innovation, in an environment of co-creation and open innovation that will also involve our clients,” says Eddy Helsen. “The exposure to new knowledge and insights will be exciting and invigorating, as will be the many events, networking opportunities and access to Vlerick’s talent pool.”
Stijn Viane concludes: “This partnership will give new impetus to the Centre and strengthen our reputation as forerunner in this field. We hope to create a dynamic network of companies – advocates – that share our vision about the future of business transformation.”
I’d never have started ViCre without Vlerick
Eddy Helsen took the Advanced Management Programme (1999-2000) when he was 45. “Besides offering new insights, it provided me with a framework for all the knowledge I’d acquired over the years. Working together with the other participants from different backgrounds, with different personalities and profiles, was an eye-opener. They were all successful in their own ways. I realised there’s no single profile for success. Most of all, however, the programme boosted my confidence. So much so that in 2004 I started up my own company.”
Eddy’s daughter, Annelies Helsen, is Business Transformation Consultant and Operations Manager at ViCre. She took the Young Management Programme (2009-2010) shortly after joining the company. “ViCre aims to achieve enterprise-wide innovation and transformation. At Vlerick we covered all the aspects of running a business, from strategy development to financial management. You really learn how a business functions and how to work together with others as a team. In my job as a consultant and operations manager I can put to practice everything I’ve learned.”