What is Business Process Management?
Business process management (BPM) – also called “process management” – helps enterprises better align business functions with customer needs. As a result, company leaders can most effectively deploy, utilize and monitor company resources. When combined with workflow automation, process management can provide significant resource-boosting outcomes:
- Improve efficiency
- Increase productivity
- Cut costs
- Eliminate errors
- Minimize risk
The most impactful type of BPM is called “integration-centric BPM.” It focuses on connecting business and operations together via apps and point solutions such as core enterprise-wide systems including CRM, ITSM and ERP platforms. These connections help to reduce manual human efforts, accelerate business processes and improve fulfillment accuracy.
2 Types of 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.” Process management can be:
- structured and repeatable; or
- unstructured and variable
It’s the “structured and repeatable” processes that offer the potential for millions of dollars in savings in large organizations through modeling, optimizing and automating workflows. Improving and automating request and fulfillment processes can yield massive cost reductions.
Additionally, structured and repeatable processes are often mundane. Although the “block and tackle” type work isn’t as sexy as the latest AI/ML tool, it does underpin the great majority of work that is done in an organization.
Business Process Management Steps
According to the Association for Intelligent Information Management (AIIIM), the recognized steps in business process management include:
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.
Begin utilizing the new process.
Track the success and results of the process.
Assure the process is being followed and produces the desired results. Optimize the process when possible.
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.
Organizational Benefits of BPM
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 expectations.
Increases efficiency & 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.
BPM helps take 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.
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.
BPM makes processes documented, consistent, visible and auditable. Workflows are designed with compliance in mind. Transparency simplifies identification of errors as well as process modifications required due to new regulations or standards.
Simplifies the transfer of business knowledge
When business 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.
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 business process management, 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.
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 retention by
- Getting product out the door faster
- Reducing billing and shipping errors
- Enabling Customer Service to see exactly where things are at so they can respond promptly and accurately to customer questions or concerns
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