Business Process Management
A Full Overview of Business Process Management (BPM)
Managing business processes is a huge challenge in most organizations. Many business owners assume that it is a huge expense or that it is only worth it for massive processes. However, BPM is important no matter what size your business is. Here’s a definitive guide to managing your business processes with the help of automation.
What is business process management (BPM)?
Business process management (BPM) is how a company creates, edits, and analyzes the predictable processes that make up the core of its business.
Each department in a company is responsible for taking some raw material or data and transforming it into something else. There may be a dozen or more core processes that each department handles.
Business process management is an organizational discipline where a company takes a step back and looks at all of these processes in total and individually. It analyzes the current state and identifies areas of improvement to create a more efficient and effective organization.
Is BPM like task or project management?
Business process management is neither task management (which focuses on individual tasks) nor project management (which handles one-time or unpredictable flows).
Task management is about handling or organizing a set of activities that arise out of a project. These projects are often one-time and non-repeatable. When these projects are well-organized like in construction work, a project management software like ‘Microsoft Project’ is used. Trello, Asana, or Kissflow Project are good tools for managing tasks in ad-hoc projects.
Business process management is focused more on repetitive and ongoing processes that follow a predictable pattern, or process management.
Learn more about Project vs. Process
Why does business process management matter?
When left unorganized and unsystematized, poor business processes can lead to mayhem. At the individual level, people only see one part of a process, and very few can scan out and see the full effects of a process, where it starts and ends, the key data needed, and where potential bottlenecks and inefficiencies lie.
Unmanaged, chaotic processes hurt business and lead to one or more of these scenarios:
Lack of data
Applying business process management, organizations can improve their processes and keep all aspects of operations running optimally.
Step 1: Design
Most processes include a form to collect data and a workflow to process it. Build your form and identify who will own each task in the workflow.
Step 2: Model
Represent the process in a visual layout. Fix details like deadlines and conditions to give a clear idea of the sequence of events, and the flow of data through the process. Here are the detailed instructions for BPM modeling.
Step 3: Execute
Execute the process by testing it live with a small group first and then open it up to all users. Make sure you restrict access to sensitive information.
Step 4: Monitor
Keep an eye on the process as it runs through the workflow. Use the right metrics to identify progress, measure efficiency, and locate bottlenecks. Here is a more detailed article about this step.
Step 5: Optimize
As you analyze, notice any changes that need to be done to your form or workflow to make them more efficient. Consider business process improvement steps.
What are the various types of business process management?
BPM systems can be categorized based on the purpose they serve. Here are the three types of business process management:
This type of business process management system handles processes that primarily jump between your existing systems (e.g. HRMS, CRM, ERP) without much human involvement. Integration-centric business process management systems have extensive connectors and API access to be able to create processes that move fast.
Human-centric BPM is for those processes that are primarily executed by humans. These often have a lot of approvals and tasks performed by individuals. These platforms excel at a friendly user interface, easy notifications, and quick tracking.
These business process management solutions are required when a document (e.g. a contract or agreement) is at the heart of the process. They enable routing, formatting, verifying, and getting the document signed as the tasks pass along the workflow.
Most business process management systems will be able to incorporate elements of each of these, but each one will usually have one specialty.
What are the benefits of incorporating business process management?
Here are some of the primary benefits of using BPM in your business:
Gain control of chaotic and unwieldy processes
Create, map, analyze, and improve business processes
Run everyday operations more efficiently
Realize bigger organizational goals
Move toward digital transformation
Improve and optimize tangled operations
Closely track individual items as they move through a workflow
Business process management examples
Have you ever felt your organization’s onboarding process is too complex and chaotic? Is your HR department asking the candidates to fill out paper forms that make them exhausted? This is because your HR department lacks the principle of Business Process Management (BPM). Applying business process management, helps you automate your HR processes end-to-end, thereby cutting down on cost, time, and paper forms. Here are a couple of examples as to how business process management helps your HR department to improve their processes:
Approve employee timesheets faster
Onboard new hires without hassles
Here are 6 business process management examples from companies that implemented BPM.
In most organizations, the sales team spends a significant amount of time in coordinating with the Accounts Receivable (AR) team, to get sales invoices approved. Even a small typo in invoices, ruins the lives of the salespeople. This is where business process management comes into the picture, since it automates the invoice approval process, thereby eliminating the chances of manual errors and the back and forth clarifications between the salespeople and the AR team. Here are a couple of scenarios in the sales department, where business process management can help them streamline their processes:
Shorten your sales cycle workflows
Be on time with quotes and invoices
A finance team is bombarded with paper forms and emails every day since anything that involves money has to go through them. For instance, if the asset management team wants to purchase 50 laptops, they send the quotation that they received from the vendor to the finance team for approval. This is just one case. Imagine, how many emails and paper forms they receive on a daily basis from various teams. Without a system in place, it is cumbersome for them to manage all of these. A business process management (BPM) system helps them manage all of this. Here are a couple of scenarios in the finance department, where business process management comes as a saving grace:
One-click approvals for travel requests
Customize workflows for unique scenarios
Features every competent business process management tool should have
Now that you know why exactly a BPM system is necessary, here’s a list of the features a good business process management system should have.
Visual process diagramming tool
Drag-and-drop form designer
Role-based access control
Powerful administrator features
Single sign-on (SSO)
Integration with existing software systems
Reports and analytics
Performance for large user bases
Process performance metrics
Read this article for a detailed explanation of the above features of a good business process management system.