Overview of Business Process Management
Business process management (BPM) helps enterprises better align business functions with customer needs, so the organization's leaders can most effectively deploy, utilize, and monitor company resources. In conjunction with workflow automation, BPM can improve efficiency, increase productivity, cut costs, eliminate errors, and minimize risk.
The most impactful type of BPM is commonly referred to as “integration-centric BPM.” This approach focuses on connecting apps and point solutions with the core enterprise-wide systems that manage business operations, such as CRM, ITSM, and ERP platforms. These connections help to reduce manual human efforts, accelerate business processes, and improvement fulfillment accuracy.
What is Business Process Management?
According to Gartner, BPM is a discipline in which people use "various methods to discover, model, analyze, measure, improve and optimize business processes. A business process coordinates the behavior of people, systems, information, and things to produce business outcomes in support of a business strategy."
Their definition also notes that business process may be structured and repeatable, or unstructured and variable.
It’s those “structured and repeatable” processes that offer the potential for millions of dollars in savings in large organizations through modeling, optimizing, and automating the workflows. Improving and automating request and fulfillment processes that happen thousands or even tens of thousands of times each year within mid-sized to large enterprises can yield massive cost reductions.
Per AIIM, the recognized steps in BPM are:
- Analyze: Evaluate and map out how the process is currently being done.
- Re-design and model: Explore ways to improve the process and model the resulting optimized sequence of steps.
- Implement: Begin utilizing the new process.
- Monitor: Track the success and results of the process.
- Manage: Assure the process is being followed and produces the desired results. Modify the process if there are ways to improve it.
- Automate: Use workflow automation technology to replace manual human steps with software actions to the greatest extent possible.
On an ongoing basis, periodically re-evaluate the process to determine if changes in the environment, personnel, technology, or other factors provide opportunities to improve it.
Benefits of BPM for your organization
Beyond being a vital to digital transformation and continuous process improvement efforts, BPM:
- Improves organizational agility: When processes are documented, organized, and monitored, it’s easier to make changes required due to factors like a product redesign, new suppliers, or evolving customer expectation.
- Increases efficiency and productivity: Evaluating and modeling business processes helps identify opportunities to accelerate steps, remove labor, and eliminate redundant or non-value-added tasks, all of which makes processes more efficient and people more productive.
- Reduces costs: BPM helps takes costs out of the business through increased efficiency (as noted above) as well as identifying opportunities to automate or outsource all or part of a workflow process.
- Improves competitiveness: Initial BPM efforts make businesses more competitive by reducing costs and accelerating processes. Ongoing efforts continually re-optimize those processes based on both changes in internal capabilities and new developments or trends in the marketplace.
- Provides more complete visibility: Orchestrated processes lend themselves to measurement across specific metrics, with performance data collected and reported by workflow automation software. This makes it easier for management to spot trends, variances, bottlenecks, and opportunities for improvement.
- Ensures compliance: BPM makes processes documented, consistent, visible, and auditable. Workflows are designed with compliance in mind, and transparency simplifies identification of errors as well as process modifications required due to new regulations or standards.
- Simplifies the transfer of business knowledge: When processes are documented, automated, consistent, monitored, and managed, there’s less risk of anything going awry or of “knowledge walking out the door” when an employee leaves the company. BPM also makes it easier and faster to bring new employees up to speed on workflows.
- Reduces errors: BPM helps avoid errors by eliminating redundant data entry; clearly assigning responsibilities to individuals; and avoiding the use of spreadsheets to track progress. If an error does occur, it’s easy to trace back to the source.
- Eliminates the need for micromanagement: In BPM, workflow steps are automatically tracked, so managers have real-time visibility into the status of any process. There’s no need to frequently “check in” with employees or watch over anyone’s shoulder. Managers can focus instead on things like training and professional development, removing obstacles, and identifying process improvements.
- Fosters collaboration: When everyone knows what is expected of them and what is expected of others—and when—it clarifies responsibilities, eliminating blame or finger pointing, improving the environment for collaboration.
- Improves the employee experience: With properly implemented BPM, employees spend less time on menial tasks, checking on progress, and “fire fighting.” They have more time to focus on achieving their objectives and improving their skills. The work around them flows more smoothly. All of this improves the experience for employees and enhances engagement.
- Increases customer satisfaction: BPM improves the customer experience, and hence retention as well, by getting product out the door faster; reducing billing and shipping errors; and enabling customer service reps to see exactly where things are at so they respond promptly and accurately to customer questions or concerns.