Businesses worldwide would need to automate their processes not only to cut costs but also to provide customer satisfaction, which will be the eventual differentiator in a fiercely competitive environment.

Unless you are from a technical background, it can get dicey grasping the fundamentals involved in Business Process Management and how it can be beneficial for your organization. This article touches on the basics of Business process management in terms of what it is and how it can benefit an organization.

Business process management (BPM) is a systematic approach to improving an organization’s End to End performance. BPM activities seek to make business processes more effective, efficient, and capable of adapting to an ever-changing environment. BPM is a subset of infrastructure management, the administrative area of concern dealing with maintaining and optimizing an organization’s equipment and core operations.

BPM solutions can be broadly classified under 2 basic categories:

  1. Front-Office BPM (FO-BPM)
  2. Back-Office BPM (BO-BPM)

Under your organization’s IT service management plan, you need to define whether you want more human-centric workflow products (i.e. FO-BPM) or system-centric workflow products (i.e. BO-BPM). Different business life cycles will involve various combinations of the above two.

BPM requires a clear understanding of the existing processes in an organization that would be automated later on by implementing a business service management strategy. Those organizations who want to automate processes should initially take up any transactional process that requires the involvement of many people in a sequential (not compulsory) fashion with approvals and possible movement of paper from one desk to another.

Once an entire business process cycle is identified, it needs to be documented accurately with a definite beginning and an end. This is an important step and often determines the success during the implementation stage. While anyone can do the documentation, it is best that this is done by somebody who is thoroughly familiar with the process. At this point, the organization could also decide whether to automate the process as it is or introduces improvements. (This is a fundamental difference with ERPs wherein changes are forced onto the organization.) The documentation also needs to be structured so as to answer questions that would come up during implementation. Drafting a flow chart would be an easy way to represent the workflow graphically, but various elements and decision points need to be clearly marked out and noted.

Once processes are broken into activities, each activity needs to be taken up in detail, defining the ‘role’ that will execute the action, the ‘items’ that need to be captured in the activity, and whether the data will be manually entered or electronically picked up. Some activities could be mandatory for the commencement of subsequent activities, while some may not. Some branches of a process may need to trigger exception reporting, which cannot be foreseen in advance and might crop up during the implementation stage.
BPM, thus, in a nutshell, means the systematization of various manual time consuming, repetitive processes into the automated process using BPM software customized as per individual organization needs and goals to reduce the time involved in workflow and improve overall efficiency by automating the same.

Benefits of Business Process Management

There are three key advantages that BPM can bring to the table:

  1. TransparencyBPM makes a business process absolutely transparent, greatly improving visibility and efficiency. Bottlenecks can literally be seen and removed. It can show where the most delays are occurring and where each transaction is stuck as it passes from one stage to another.
  2. Process refinement initial configuration and design exercise coupled with the data that emerges after running processes for some time can allow refinement. This allows testing of application performance, and application monitoring ensures improved efficiency in overall infrastructure management.
  3. Centralization of DataData about every transaction is logged and retrieved as and when required. Therefore, it is possible to analyze accurately what happened. Referencing is also easier as embedded searches allow for data to be picked up as required for the study.

BPM leads to IT monitoring at different phases of the business process cycle and creates better, faster sub-processes which can trigger tremendous efficiency gains as the technology does much of the hard work.