‘Dutch organizations score high on process thinking’

The pursuit of operational excellence is high on the managerial agenda at Dutch organizations. A large proportion has the ambition to become value-driven, process-led and data-driven. This is evident from a survey by Business Process Management specialist Signavio, part of SAP.

For the study ‘State of the Nation 2022: Business Process Transformation in the Netherlands’, Signavio interviewed over one hundred IT specialists, managers and directors. The respondents all work for Dutch companies with at least a thousand employees.

80.5 percent of those surveyed cited “operational excellence” as the most important driver for a business transformation. 78 percent hope that the transformation will ultimately result in cost savings. Being able to serve customers better (61.0 percent) and improving the “customer journey” (60.2 percent) were also frequently mentioned in response to the question of what a transformation should enable.

Direction of process-led

According to the authors of the research report, in order for a transformation to succeed, it is necessary for organizations to become value-driven, process-led and data-driven. Dutch companies already appear to be taking concrete steps in that direction. 46.6 percent indicated that they are exploring the possibilities of process automation and process mining techniques.

Another 30.5 percent said they are working on streamlining processes at the tactical level, such as for order-to-cash and purchase-to-pay. 15.3 percent said they are at the start of a transformation and are using simple tools for modeling processes.

Tips for a successful transformation

According to Leon Fakkel, at SAP Director of Business Development S/4HANA Cloud – RISE with SAP, the figures show that in the Netherlands ‘process thinking’ is at a high level. According to Fakkel, many companies are now working on the translation of ‘I want to change this’ to actually being able to adapt. He gives a number of tips that can contribute to a successful transformation:


“Technical backlog maintenance makes it difficult to implement process changes in backend and front-end systems,” warns Fakkel. Innovation and transformation require modern and up-to-date applications. Only with this will it be possible to meet users’ expectations.


A transformation must be supported company-wide. Communication is important for obtaining that support. If communication is inadequate, changes are more likely to meet with resistance, for example. Signavio therefore advocates that the added value of a transformation, its objectives and timelines be clearly communicated.

Create insight

Measuring is knowing also applies in the field of Business Process Management. “You can’t optimize processes if you don’t know how processes are implemented, but more importantly, executed,” says Fakkel. “With no or little insight, it is difficult to determine where there is improvement potential and where it is possible to adjust processes.”

Ensure ownership

At 47.5 percent of the companies surveyed, business transformation is invested in the “Office of the CEO. But often the responsibility also lies with the CIO or a Centre of Excellence. Fakkel: “In any case, it is important that the transformation is invested somewhere. End-to-end processes often transcend departments. Then it doesn’t work if we are ‘all a bit of it’. That would make process-driven work more difficult, because every department would then be responsible for a piece of the process.”

Limit the scope

“We still often go for comprehensive projects where we want to put all the requirements in, but that approach hasn’t worked for a long time,” Fakkel says. “For that, the speed of change is too great. If you deliver a project after a year, the world has already changed. Don’t boil the ocean, opt for smaller steps.”


Changes must be implemented step by step. That is also the idea behind SAP’s Business Process Intelligence solutions and behind RISE with SAP. This as-a-service solution combines services and solutions from SAP. Together with the partner ecosystem, SAP ensures a fast time-to-value and an acceleration of the digital transformation of companies and the move to the cloud.

“The implementation of, for example, SAP S/4HANA also means the adaptation of processes. Large-scale transformation programs are complicated, take too long and do not work for this purpose,” says Jeroen van der Lingen, Managing Director SAP Netherlands. “Part of RISE with SAP is that we work with the customer towards the intended end goal. Whereby our recommendation is: first run, then embellish.”