What Is Business Process Management? Accelerate Transformation

December 14, 2020
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What Is Business Process Management? Accelerate Transformation

The act of process management expands beyond flowcharts and process maps. Business process management (BPM) is necessary to ensure that a business is operating in an optimal fashion, while also making sure that digital transformation is feasible. We’ll cover everything you need to know about BPM. 

What is Business Process Management?

To understand process management, it’s first imperative to understand that processes don’t take place in silos according to departments. Processes are activities that are designed and performed to achieve a business goal. For this reason, they transpire across departments’ borders, and so, these activities need to be properly managed to avoid bottlenecks and errors. 

This form of operations management exists under the umbrella of business process management. As such, organisations can practice business process management by leveraging people, policies and tools to measure, improve, optimise and automate business processes. 

Under this practice, organisations are able to align their processes with their business goals, by designing workflows, establishing measurement systems and organising team members and systems to oversee that operations are flowing as planned. 

BPM is aided by technology but not defined entirely by it. Instead, technologies help to improve process flows and standardise procedures across an organisation for effective functioning. This is where business process automation comes into play. 

What Is A Business Process?

Process management depends on processes. A business process is a set of activities that are carried out which transform an input into an output. An input may be in the form of data, information, business commitments or materials. An output can either be the value a customer derives from the business offering, or another input for the next process to transform into an output. 

Process Management Is Not Just The Software

Organisations are living and breathing organisms, run by people with the aid of technology. However, process management is not just about software. The business process management life cycle is created from a combination of policies, people, and the tools they use. BPM works as a top-down approach, but it requires people at the managerial level to apply it in each department to benefit the organisation as a whole. 

What Is The Role of the Business Analyst?

Given that BPM requires people to carry out, it often is a responsibility that a business analyst holds. A business analyst, or process analyst, is well-versed in being able to model the “to be” state of an organisation and outlines what’s needed to get there. They conduct interviews, analyse data and use process modelling software to optimise processes and automate aspects of the workflow. 

Why Change Management is Important

Business processes evolve to better serve the internal and external stakeholders of any organisation. For this reason, operations management and process improvement relies on the understanding and acceptance of change. For example, if you’re going to introduce business process automation into an organisation, then it will need to be approved by stakeholders and adopted by employees to work. Therefore, change management is a foundational aspect of BPM. 

Business Process Management Lifecycle And Capabilities: Steps To Take

Every organisation will reap benefits from implementing a BPM practice. There are five steps, which are as follows: 

  1. Design: The life cycle begins with design. It entails identifying all of your processes that are currently in existence, as well as those that need to be created. It’s useful to outline the processes in detail, including standard operating procedures, alerts and notifications, what steps are taken within the process, task hand-overs and escalations. This step is the first place by which you may spot inefficiencies or notice a gap that requires the creation of a process to overcome
  1. Model: BPM modelling is the visual depiction of a process. It often begins with the simple act of drawing out a process with pen and paper (before making it digital). There’s business process modelling software that can do the heavy lifting. Modelling allows everyone in the organisation to be on the same page as to understand how a process works, as well as who is responsible at every given turn. It provides a way to standardise and control processes. Furthermore, it establishes a clear beginning and end to a process
  1. Execute: Once a process has been designed and clearly outlined, then it can be moved into action, or execution. Begin with a small test before running all updated processes at a large-scale. This provides risk mitigation in case the process has to be revised or further optimised. Process execution may entail both manual and automated steps. Manual processes are executed by humans. Automated processes are run by software systems. To automate these types of processes, you can leverage an automation tool that comes standard with the processes you already run. Or, you can customise a process with drag-and-drop tools so that you can maximise your team’s time to focus on high-level tasks as the system automates processes. 
  1. Monitor: To gauge whether or not a process is achieving what it was designed to do,  you’ll want to monitor processes. For example, you can track the status of a process with an automated software system. Say an invoice has been approved and sent for payment, then the system will show that payment is pending or the invoice has been paid. You can monitor how multiple processes are doing through real-time data dashboards and automated reports. This way, you can always pinpoint potential issues and work to resolve them before they become uncontrollable. 
  1. Optimise: A large piece of BPM is process improvement and process optimisation. By tracking metrics and overseeing how processes are functioning, then you can identify places for improvement. Improvements may come in the form of lowering costs, increasing outputs, or addressing bottlenecks, to name a few. All business processes should be reviewed so that you can find ways to provide increased  business value through the execution of each process

Types of BPM Management Suites

BPM software exists to serve the market need for process management. There are three categories of management, namely:

  • Integration-centric BPM: This system helps to handle processes that move between your existing technology stack (i.e. ERP, CRM, etc.). They have API access and can connect disparate systems without much human involvement.
  • Human-centric BPM: Processes that are typically handled by humans can be aided with human-centric BPM. They are useful in providing quick tracking, notifications and a user-friendly interface. It’s best for approval processes, for example
  • Document-centric BPM: If you’re dealing with processes that revolve around documents, like contracts, then document-centric BPM is useful. It will help to route, format, verify and gain a signature on the document so it can move along its path

Naturally, systems will entail a combination of the three types, but software typically specialises in one or the other. 

BPM vs Task Management vs Project Management

BPM differs from task management and project management. To put it simply, task management stems from a project and is typically about overseeing a set of activities that are a one-and-done deal, or non-repeatable. Project management encompasses managing a project, which can often be unpredictable in its workflow. 

Business process management is concerned with repeatable and ongoing processes that are typically predictable, as they are designed, outlined and constant. 

Why does Business Process Management Matter and What are the Benefits?

Process management is integral to the optimal functioning of any organisation. Not only does it aid in allowing individuals to understand how processes begin and end, but it also aids in reducing bottlenecks. It is all too easy to design a process, let it run and forget about it. Yet, this is where problems can arise within a business. Without monitoring and overseeing processes, you can lose out on opportunities and produce waste.

BPM provides countless benefits to organisations, both big and small. Here’s a look at some of the upsides:

  • Boost employee satisfaction and morale 
  • Improve the use of data to transform into insights 
  • Decrease blame and errors 
  • Increase efficiency 
  • Decrease bottlenecks and wasted time 

Business Process Management Examples

To best understand the process, let’s take a look at some examples based on business departments:

  • Finance: Finance teams are transforming to provide overall business strategy and insights for decision-making. However, they are still responsible for back-office tasks and approvals for multiple departments. One example is travel reimbursement approvals, which should follow a standard process, but often do turn out to be cumbersome. With automation software and a clearly defined approval process, this becomes an easy task that requires little to no human intervention. 
  • Sales: Sales teams should spend their time selling and working with customers. But, they often get bogged down with the Accounts Receivable teams to get invoices approved. This is just one example where a process can become inefficient. If an invoice has an error, then it won’t be processed. BPM software can automate invoice approvals and decrease the risk of manual errors. 
  • HR: Human resources are tasked with many jobs, but one of the most important is employee onboarding. This often time-consuming task can be exhausting for all parties involved. With BPM software, the onboarding can be automated from the data collection step and filling out forms to providing a new employee with the materials they need to start working.
  • Support team departments: Technology is transforming customer service and providing multiple lines of communication from chatbots to social media messaging. BPM tools can aggregate customer support tickets and organise them based on needs. They may route the ticket to the necessary party, assign tasks and update the progress of where a ticket currently exists. 

How Expensive Are BPM Systems?

BPM solutions vary in terms of pricing. While it’s possible to invest a quarter of a million and up for a robust BPM system, it’s also possible to buy into cloud-based systems that are more cost effective. 

The range of BPM pricing depends on a vendors’ licensing model, customer type, size, workflow complexity and more. When considering BPM systems, or even workflow automation tools, it’s best to take into consideration questions like:

  • What’s our BPM budget?
  • How complex are our processes?
  • Are we a small team or enterprise? 
  • How much customisation do we need? 
  • Will a cloud-based system work for our needs? 

Wrap Up

When it comes to business process management, you’ll have to have the right people, policies and technologies on board. Automation solutions can aid from start to finish by automating repetitive processes, reducing bottlenecks, and providing an easy way to monitor all of these processes. 


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