If business processes are the foundation on which your organization is built, then business process management (BPM) is the necessary mechanism that keeps that foundation strong and sturdy.
Business processes define how all the work is performed within an organization. Large enterprises typically have thousands of them, and many aren't defined or standardized, so naturally, a discipline is needed to manage all these processes and ensure that they're efficient and effective, so the organization can continue growing and achieving its key business objectives.
What is Business Process Management?
BPM is a way of examining and controlling all the processes that define an organization. It's a business practice that involves how companies identify, define, and study their business processes with the clear objective of finding ways to improve them so that they're more efficient and effective. Put another way, it's a standardized, institutional method of taking the current state of processes – that is, how work is performed today – and looking for ways to make that process more efficient and effective by modeling a new, better, future-state process.
Ultimately, BPM should drive greater operational efficiency and cost reduction within an organization through a mantra of continuous improvement, always looking to make processes better by removing waste and redundancies.
Different Types of Business Process Management
There are essentially three types of BPM in any organization:
1. Document-centric BPM
A document-centric process is one where a document like a contract or legal agreement is at the heart of that process. Document-centric processes define procedures for distributing, reviewing, and validating documents.
A good example would be the process for approving and signing customer contracts or contracts signed while procuring the services of external vendors.
2. Human-centric BPM
Human-centric processes are those that have the most involvement and interaction performed by humans. They are generally decision-based instead of rules-based processes; humans decide the process's path based on their decisions.
An example of a human-centric process in an organization is hiring new talent by the Human Resources team.
The decision-based nature of human-centric processes presents challenges where automation is concerned. Whereas automation teams are beginning to ramp up their use of intelligent automation, this type of automation is still very much in the experimental stage and not quite ready for prime time.
3. Integration-centric BPM
Integration-centric processes define the transfer of information and data between different systems without significant human intervention. These processes lend themselves very well to automation, increasing the speed of execution and limiting errors based on humans' decreased involvement.
An excellent example of an integration-centric process is the connection between marketing tools like HubSpot or Marketo with sales-based CRMs (client relationship manager) like Salesforce or Siebel to transfer data on lead generation and engagement between those two systems.
How to Implement Business Process Management
Implementing a strong business process management culture and practice within an organization is dependent on the following:
Defined Ownership and Central Governance
Much like an automation center of excellence (CoE), implementing BPM requires a defined set of stakeholders that own the initiative. Normally business profiles who are the process owners and experts make up this group. They define the governance model that establishes best practices, shares knowledge, and determines how processes are selected to be optimized and implemented.
It's only fitting that a practice and discipline based on improving processes in an organization should follow the same rigor and have a process that standardizes that practice. The general steps involved in BPM should be:
- Analysis – analyzing the current-state process. The emphasis should not be on the task the process addresses, but instead, the outcome. Business process management should be a discipline focused on improving outcomes as opposed to tasks
- Optimization – designing and modeling an improved process by finding ways to make it more efficient to deliver better outcomes faster and eliminating waste
- Implementation – ensuring those that perform the process follow the newly-defined, improved process
- Monitoring – continuously tracking the performance of the improved process by answering the following questions: Is it producing less errors? Is it performed faster with fewer hand-offs? Is the process quality and outcome better?
Automating – with strong automation initiatives now present in every enterprise, proposing automation candidates should always be the final step in the list, as optimization is a core step on the road to automation, because automating bad processes will lead to bad automations
Establishing a Culture of Continuous Improvement
BPM can only be successful in an organization if it's a supported, continuous endeavour. The focus must be on the continuous improvement of processes instead of a one-and-done scenario. That's why monitoring improved processes must be prioritized to enable continuous improvement over time to propel growth and increased efficiency into the future.
The Technology to Manage All Your Business Processes in One Place
Because of BPM's proven ability to improve operational and cost efficiency, it's also launched a thriving technical sector in the form of BPM tools. With automation programs leaning so heavily on BPM teams, the solution they require needs to be much more robust and comprehensive than simple process editors that only support the design stage.
As the world's most powerful automation design and management solution, Blueprint's Enterprise Automation Suite is the only solution that bridges the existing gap between BPM and automation teams. Blueprint provides a cloud-hosted central repository where all the captured processes an organization has can reside.
Because Blueprint's Enterprise Automation Suite also provides unlimited users, all stakeholders can collaboratively design, define, and optimize end-to-end processes so that process improvement is transparent. Blueprint is the solution where BPM and automation teams converge to collaborate during the design, optimization, and automation prioritization stages to drive both a culture of continuous process improvement and higher-quality automation for incremental cost and operational efficiency.
For more information on how Blueprint synergizes BPM and automation like no other solution available on the market, read the Blueprint Enterprise Automation Suite brochure here.