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2024/2025  KAN-CCMVV4066U  Business Process Excellence

English Title
Business Process Excellence

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Autumn
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 150
Study board
Study Board for cand.merc. and GMA (CM)
Course coordinator
  • Fagansvarlig
    Günter Prockl - Department of Digitalisation (DIGI)
Please find contact information for Student Hub, student Guidiance Services etc. on My.cbs.dk
Main academic disciplines
  • Organisation
  • Project and change management
  • Supply chain management and logistics
Teaching methods
  • Blended learning
Last updated on 05-02-2024

Relevant links

Learning objectives
At the end of the course the student should be able to:
  • Put key challenges and pitfalls associated with the major activities and processes in different industrial or service environments into the perspective of lean/six sigma management and/or digital transformation of business processes.
  • Apply the relevant tools from a repertoire of lean strategies and six sigma instruments to analyse and solve problems within business processes.
  • Organise a well-structured process from analysis to generation of solutions.
  • Explain root causes of the problems applying lean management, lean thinking, six sigma, and network management views.
  • Present argumentation from a lean/six sigma management point of view that supports action oriented conclusions based on the analysis of a given case.
  • Structure a digital transformation of business processes and/or a company.
  • Understand basic technologies of digital transformation of business processes and their interaction within business ecosystems
  • Reflect on the consequences of applying different solution approaches on a given issue.
Course prerequisites
This course can be followed by any master level and by exchange students.
Business Process Excellence:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 15 pages
Assignment type Written assignment
Release of assignment Subject chosen by students themselves, see guidelines if any
Duration Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Winter
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
* if the student fails the ordinary exam the course coordinator chooses whether the student will have to hand in a revised product for the re- take or a new project.
Description of the exam procedure

In alignment with the teacher(s) the students may choose their own case or topic for their written assignment. Assignments may be either based on an application of course contents on a practical case or a theoretical paper on a relevant course topic. There may be also combinations of these two generic options in alignment with the instructors. 

The teacher will further provide clear instructions and quality critiera within the lectures supporting the structuring and writing of the assignment with respect to the chosen option.

Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

Business processes are the backbone of every operation. Their management and the continuous improvement of their performance are key requirements for efficiency and effectiveness in any organization. In the global business environment, small and large international firms need to excel in their own operations as well as the extended networks of suppliers and customers in order to stay ahead in competition. Service providers and administrations have to generate value for the stakeholders and at the same time need to eliminate waste and thus cost in processes.

This striving for process improvement has been addressed again and again since the 1990s through numerous management concepts such as process reengineering, total quality management, lean and Six Sigma. Lean is a business practice where creation of customer value and minimization of waste of resources is in focus of all efforts. Six sigma is a successful management strategy that seeks to improve business process quality by identifying and removing root causes of execution variability and process errors - finally enabling that process outputs can meet client specifications or market demands. The combination of these two strategies is what we call "achieving business process excellence".


Beyond these permanent challenges of achieving excellence in business processes, there is also the immense potential of their digital transformation based on new digital technologies. Such technologies are used to gain data from business processes and to enhance value creation activities and the advancement of a company’s business model. Eventually, this development induces a transformation of business processes and value creation from classic product-oriented views towards data- and service-oriented business ecosystems.


In this course we explore process excellence from its traditional roots and connect it to the current challenges of digitalization. Lean Six Sigma is serving as umbrella concept that extracts and summarizes key ideas from previous approaches and transfers them to new challenges of the Digital Transformation. Beyond the solid foundation of business process excellence, we intend to create an understanding for digital transformation of business processes and to enable students to assess companies in regards to their (digital) process maturity and to develop strategies for a digital transformation process.


The main elements of the course come in three blocks. In the first block we introduce historical roots and basic requirements such as mapping and measurement of business processes. The second part deals with the application of instruments, tools and approaches for systematic analysis and improvement of business processes. The third block refers to challenges related to the transformation of processes and connects Lean Six Sigma with Change Management and Digital Transformation.


More specifically, contents are:

  • History and definition of Business Process Excellence
  • Voice of Customer, Value and demand vs. Voice of Process and Process Performance Measurement
  • Application of toolsets such as Integrated Flowcharts, Value Stream Mapping, Root Cause Analysis and Fishbone Models
  • Process redesign and Change Management
  • Frameworks for Digital Transformation of Business Processes and their maturity assessment
  • Basic technologies for digital transformation of business processes and the extension of traditional business processes by business ecosystems


Besides these issues, students will also get training into the necessary analytical tools including data analysis, process mapping, KAIZEN and other related instruments.


The course´s development of personal competences:

The course consequently focuses on student’s capabilities to apply lean thinking and related management approaches for analyzing major problems and pitfalls, identifying their underlying root causes, and presenting appropriate management solutions. Upon course completion, the individual student should be able to apply the lean and six sigma terminology and knowledge to describe and discuss key challenges related to basic functions, activities and processes in supply chains and management environments of various industries. Beyond this basic understanding of business process excellence, we intend to also create an understanding for digital transformation of business processes and to enable students to assess companies in regards to their (digital) process maturity and to develop strategies for a digital transformation process.

Description of the teaching methods
The teaching will consist of lectures, discussions of case-studies, in-class exercises and hands-on workshops and where appropriate short games to open the view on specific key challenges in the field.
Feedback during the teaching period
Students select either a specific business process for an actual improvement project or they develop a research theme for further hands on investigation in their exam paper. The selected topic will be presented either voluntarily in class or individually to the course instructor during the office hours. Students may then receive peer or individual feedback on their selected problem and how it potentially links to the approach, instruments and other contents as discussed in the course lectures. For individual feedback timeslots are set in the office hours. The slots are distributed by the teacher and it is optional for the students to use the offer.
Student workload
Teaching 30 hours
Readings, preparation, home assignment 176 hours
Further Information

The course is a part of the minor in Supply Chain Intelligence - An applied perspective

Expected literature


George, M. (2010): The Lean Six Sigma Guide to Doing More with Less, Wiley, 327 p.

Busulwa, R.: Navigating Digital Transformation in Management, Routledge 2023.




Brunet, A. B., New, S., 2003.: Kaizen in Japan: an empirical study. International Journal of Operations and Production Management 23 (12), 1426-1446.

Cox, A./Chicksand, D. (2005): The limits of lean management thinking: multiple retailers and food farming, European Management Journal, 23, 6, 648-662, 15 p.

Done, A., Voss, C. and Rytter, N.G., Best practice Interventions, Short term impact and long term outcomes, Accepted and completed, Forthcoming in Journal of Operations Management, 2011.

Holweg, M. (2007): The genealogy of lean production, Journal of Operations Management, 25, 2, 420-437, 18 p.

Liker, J.K., The Toyota Way: Fourteen Management Secrets from the World's Greatest Manufacturer, McGraw-Hill, 2004.

Mcadam, R./Lafferty, B. (2004): A multilevel case study critique of six sigma: statistical control or strategic change? International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 24,5, 530-549, 20 p.

McFarlane, D., & Sheffi, Y. (2003). The impact of automatic identification on supply chain operations (pp. 1-27). University of Cambridge, Department of Engineering.

Nonthaleerak, P./Hendry, L. (2008): Exploring the six sigma phenomenon using multiple case study evidence, International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 28, 3, 279-303, 25 p.

Papert, M. und A. Pflaum (2017): Development of an Ecosystem Model for the Realization of Internet of Things (IoT) Services in Supply Chain Management. Electronic Markets, 31 Nr. pp, 1–15.

Porter, M. and J.E. Heppelmann, “How Smart, Connected Products are Transforming Competition,” Harvard Business Rev., vol. 92, no. 11, 2014, pp. 64–88.

Schonberger, Richard J., Best Practices in Lean Six Sigma Process Improvement – A deeper Look, Wiley and Sons, New Jersey, 2008

Shah, R./Ward, P. (2007): Defining and developing measures of lean production, Journal of Operations Management, 25, 4, 785-805, 21 p.

Sony, M.; Naik, S.; Therisa, K. (2019): Why do organizations discontinue Lean Six Sigma initiatives?, International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, 36,3, p. 420-436, 15p.

Sunder, V.; Ganesh, L.;  Marathe, R. (2018): A morphological analysis of research literature on Lean Six Sigma for services, International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 38, 1, 149-182, 12 p.

Van Alstyne, M.W.; G.G. Parker, and S.P. Choundary, “Pipelines, Platforms, and the New Rules of Strategy,” Harvard Business Rev., vol. 94, no. 4, 2016, pp. 54–60.

Wood, N. (2004): Customer Value: Applying the first principle of lean, Management Services, 48, 3, 14-17, 3 p.

Last updated on 05-02-2024