Purpose – The presentation and validation of a checklist that can be used to determine an organization's process orientation prior to a business process management systems (BPMS) implementation. Its aim is to help predict the success of BPMS implementation on the basis of the identified process awareness within an organization. Design/methodology/approach – The checklist has been developed on the basis of relevant literature and augmented with practical experience from staff of one of the world's largest BPM system vendors. The study of three BPM System implementations at different client sites have been used to validate the checklist. Findings – The study suggests that a lack of process orientation may be related to all kinds of problems that affect the speed and cost of a BPMS implementation. The checklist seems useful to predict those problems at sites where process orientation is insufficient. Research limitations/implications – The number of cases used (3) is quite small. Furthermore, the retrospective assessment of the situation prior to BPM system implementation limits the reliability of the findings. Current results seem a good basis for further refinement and validation. Practical implications – A very practical, easy to use instrument that can directly be applied by organizations that are expected to be involved in multiple BPM system implementations (e.g. large banks, consultancies, system integrators, etc.). Originality/value – This paper presents an instrument that does not yet exist to measure a relation often hypothesized upon in existing research.