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The most efficient businesses know how to pair people and technology to fulfil processes that achieve optimal results. Business process management is a robust discipline that can be applied to analyse and optimise business processes such that systems, people and information are aligned with business strategy to produce desired results. 

Let’s take a look at how business processes can be enacted, as well as the benefit of automation solutions within the practice of process management. 

What is Business Process Management?

Business process management refers to how organisations analyse, measure, design and improve business processes. It’s a framework that helps to see how various processes across departments are functioning or could be functioning to boost productivity and maximise efficiency. 

With the ability to view all processes (that are seemingly disparate, but tend to actually be interdependent) within an organisation, there’s a clear picture as to how to implement automation solutions to streamline functions. 

Business processes are repetitive by nature and tend to follow a predictable pattern, which makes it possible to manage them by applying the right methods and technological solutions. 

How to Successful Employ Business Process Management 

Business process management is meant to be performed on a continuous basis. This is because processes are malleable and should be adaptive to their environment. 

Since processes are enacted to achieve business goals, their steps may be updated based on business strategy. 

Consider this business process approach for best results:

  • Base processes and your overall focus on outcomes rather than individual tasks 
  • Outline, design and improve processes in increments before automating them entirely 
  • Clearly define ownership and responsibilities for processes to people and departments 
  • Standardise processes across an organisation (automation makes this simple) 
  • Rather than hastily shutting down processes during BPM, try to make small, but powerful improvements over time 
  • Monitor and analyse results continuously 

BPM: Task or Project?

Before implementing business process management, it’s necessary to understand the differentiation between a task and a project. Regardless of your organisation’s size, your team will be responsible for handling tasks, projects and processes.  

Task management refers to organising specific duties that come from a project. Projects tend to be one-time only, with a start and finish. Task management can be optimised with the aid of project management software, like Trello or Asana, for example. 

Business process management necessitates automation software solutions, by which entire processes can be adequately and seamlessly managed. Processes are repetitive, and in turn, predictable. Therefore, robotic process automation can be applied to handle the steps and streamline a process from end-to-end. 

Why is Business Process Management Important? 

There’s an old saying that goes, “How you do anything is how you do everything.” 

In a business setting, the way one process runs will dictate outcomes much larger than the process itself. Businesses also have a lot of moving parts and people. With BPM, every individual can clearly see how processes work together for outcomes greater than themselves. This boosts employee morale and can help each team member understand their respective roles and responsibilities as part of the big picture. 

In order to run efficiently, minimise costs and maximise outputs, there must be clearly defined procedures. Chaotic processes that are mismanaged or ignored can create negative effects like:

  • Errors 
  • Decreased employee satisfaction 
  • Decreased customer satisfaction
  • Wasted time 
  • Missing data 

Business process management is an organised approach that leads to efficiency. Furthermore, with the massive amounts of growing data that companies rely on, BPM can simplify and standardise data collection, transformation, storage and visualisation so that stakeholders can benefit from useful insights. 

Business Process Management Steps 

BPM can be considered a life cycle that is used to identify, outline, develop and maintain business process steps.

Here’s how it works in practice:

  1. Plan: Begin the process with inclusion. Discuss goals with stakeholders, both internally and externally. 

An effective BPM strategy is only possible if there’s buy-in from key decision-makers. This is not only true because it requires investment in technological solutions, but also because transitioning staff will rely on a top-down approach to change management. 

In this step, you’ll want to clearly define and identify business processes. Then, you can decide which processes are ripe for automation. Some criteria that help to define business processes that should be automated include: repetitive in nature, dependent on data, have a clear start and finish, and are measurable. 

  1. Design: It’s likely that in step one, you will have identified a multitude of processes that are not only meant to be automated, but are also suffering from inefficiency. To design the most efficient processes, you’ll want to be able to visualise the steps. You can outline the sequence of events by way of a flowchart.

This grants your team a way to see what tasks are part of the process, who is responsible at each step along the way, and what kind of resources (including, time, money, and technology) are relevant. 

  1. Execute: When you’ve secured a clear picture of how the process should run, you can then execute it via an automation solution, for example. With an automation solution that boasts a simple user interface, you can drag-and-drop to design and execute processes. 

You can also maintain peace of mind by first testing the process with a small group before expanding it across the organisation in real-time. 

  1. Measure: Upon execution, take note of the key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the process’ success. This will help to highlight any bottlenecks or issues that still exist within the process. 
  1. Optimise: With data analysis, you can see whether or not the process is in line with expectations based on results. If not, repeat the design and execution step to try again. If all looks good, remember to continuously monitor the results for continuous process improvement.  

What are the Types of Business Process Management?

Given the vast amount of business processes in existence, we can classify business process management based on its intentions. 

Let’s take a look at three types of business processes and their categories of management:

  • Human-centric BPM: This is for the business processes that are highly dependent on human action. They generally consist of approvals and multiple tasks that humans must complete to come to fruition. BPM in this category should focus on easy tracking, notifications and a simple user interface. 
  • Integration-centric BPM: Integration-centric BPM solutions help to bridge the gap between existing systems without relying too much on human intervention. For this reason, they involve APIs, access controls and can create fast-moving processes on the fly
  • Document-centric BPM: Many business processes are based in documentation and approvals. Think of human resources and onboarding, for example. Document-centric BPM helps to alleviate bottlenecks and key person dependencies by managing tasks and moving documents through an automated pipeline for approval

Benefits of Business Process Management? 

While intentions matter in business, the most important factors are outcomes and results. Business process management exists so that organisations can achieve their goals in the most efficient way possible. 

Take a look at some benefits that BPM provides:

  • Business agility: Markets, customer demands, regulations and all the variables that affect businesses are constantly changing. With BPM, a business can be proactive and respond to change rather than reactive and delayed. It allows for organisations to quickly edit, implement and execute workflows according to current needs. 
  • Reduced costs: With automated business processes and a way to manage effectiveness, organisations can reduce bottlenecks which are costly in time, resources and opportunity cost. As businesses operate seamlessly and smoothly, sales cycles can be reduced and wasted resources no longer go unnoticed.
  • Boosted efficiency: End-to-end process management provides leaders with a clear view of resource allocation. By removing repetitive tasks and automating processes, businesses benefit from increased efficiency
  • Enhanced compliance: BPM can safeguard data and private information to reduce theft, misuse or data breaches. With software solutions, organisations can define access controls and ensure that business processes are aligned with the most up-to-date regulations
  • Clear visibility: Automation solutions leveraged in BPM provide increased visibility into business processes and provide real-time data and analytics
  • Digital transformation: Adopting new technologies doesn’t have to be scary. With a BPM framework, business leaders can easily make decisions and gain buy-in by being able to prove how automation is helping to achieve optimal results. 

Business Process Management Examples & Uses 

To best understand how much business process management matters within an organisation of any size, let’s review some examples from different departments. 

  • Finance: Finance teams are experiencing finance transformation, by which their roles are transforming to be more strategic and less task-based. Incorporating back-office processes like procuring financial statements to serve as advisors for key-decision makers means that the finance team is taking on more responsibility than ever before

As finance professionals focus on high-level tasks, they must still take care of expense report approvals, for example. With emails and paper trails from various departments, finance teams can leverage BPM and automation solutions to manage such requests digitally through an automated approval process. 

  • Sales: Sales teams have to work with finance departments for approvals to move an order to a paid and approved invoice. This step relies on data entry, and one small human error could cause a delay in payment. With BPM and automation, this process can be streamlined and human data entry errors become a moot point 

Automation and Business Process Management 

While BPM isn’t meant to be a synonym for automation, it does encompass the use of technology solutions to aid humans in fulfilling processes. BPM is an overall framework to align software, people, and systems to create, design, execute and monitor business processes. 

The good news is that the upfront investment of an automation tool will end up paying dividends because it leads to reduced costs, increased efficiency and scalable results. Furthermore, solutions no longer require coders or highly-skilled personnel to implement. This makes it easy for businesses to deploy automation technology and reap benefits almost immediately. 

Since automation solutions are a piece of the puzzle, it’s best to know what features BPM software should include for best results:

  • Visualisation tools
  • Drag-and-drop process designer 
  • Access control based on roles 
  • Mobile support 
  • Report and analytics 
  • Ability to integrate with existing toolstack 
  • Process performance metrics 
  • Cloud accessibility 
  • Customer service and resources 

Wrap Up

Business process management helps organisations streamline their workflows and helps to automate processes so that teams can meet and exceed business objectives. Organisations of all sizes can reap the benefits of automation and strategic BPM in order to reduce costs, optimise productivity and streamline processes.

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