Business Process Management (BPM) is a term used to describe a myriad of processes and has many connotations. And as something that touches on all departments in a business, it can be a struggle to sum it up in one, all-encompassing definition. But, what it aims to achieve is always the same: A well-oiled machine humming with efficiency.
To put it simply, the idea of BPM is to use the tools at your disposal to create or identify regular, repeated tasks in your organisation, break them down and analyse them, and continuously improve upon them until they are as streamlined and efficient as possible.
Below, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Business Process Management – what it is, why and how an organisation should make use of it, and what the future of BPM looks like. First, the basics:
What is Business Process Management?
With ubiquitous terms like Business Process Management, it’s best to start with a formal definition, Gartner say: “Business Process Management is a discipline that uses various methods to discover, model, analyse, measure, improve and optimize business processes.”
In its simplest form, Business Process Management is about figuring out how a business does things; identifying regular activities, pinpointing how they could be improved, and making changes to optimise the repetitive processes. The ultimate goal is for businesses to become more efficient, more consistent, reduce costs, increase transparency and accountability, and provide a better experience of day-to-day work for employees.
This may sound simple enough, but before we get in to the ‘Why’ and ‘How’, we need to break it down a bit further.
What constitutes a ‘Business Process’?
It’s important to understand what constitutes a Business Process before you can start managing and streamlining them.
Think of a business process as a recipe for a meal, outlining the ingredients (resources, people, technology) and the step-by-step instructions on how to combine and utilise these ingredients to achieve a desired result. Just as a recipe guides you through the process of cooking the meal, a business process guides employees through executing the tasks and workflows effectively.
A business process ultimately refers to a set of actions or tasks that a company carries out consistently and regularly to achieve a specific outcome. It’s a systematic approach used to complete a specific function within the company.
The issue here is that, while these tasks should be carried out regularly and consistently, these processes are often human-driven. And when humans are involved, so to is the risk of human error and inconsistencies, which can ultimately lead to non-compliance. One goal of Business Process Management is to eliminate these risks.
Why use Business Process Management?
Knowing what BMP is doesn’t mean you can wave a magic wand and instantly eradicate all inefficiencies in your business; it isn’t a one-time, plug-and-play kit to improve processes across the organisation. In order to see continued optimisation and efficiency gains, BPM requires a consistent and maintained effort on the part of the entire organisation.
So, why bother? What are companies really getting out of Business Process Management? Well, let’s take a detailed look at the benefits it can bring your organisation below.
On a broader scale, streamlined processes can be seen as somewhat of an umbrella benefit, as many of the further benefits listed here are ultimately the result of having better processes.
By embracing BPM, companies can identify and remove inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and unnecessary steps in their operations.
Take a mortgage company wishing to improve their loan application and approval process for example. The company would analyse its existing workflows, identify areas for optimisation, and notice how processing time is made longer by the amount of manual paperwork. In order to optimise, the company could automate document collection by implementing a portal where borrowers can securely upload their financial documents. Thus, reducing manual collection and paperwork, and eliminating an entire step in the workflow.
More streamlined processes lead to:
Increased efficiency & reduced costs
Work smarter, not harder
By optimising processes, organisations can significantly cut down on time and labour costs. Through the elimination of unnecessary steps, automation of repetitive tasks, and improved resource allocation, companies can free up valuable employee time which can often be swallowed by menial tasks.
This enables organisations to redirect their workforce towards more strategic and profitable activities, such as innovation, customer care and expansion.
By incorporating BPM, organisations can achieve faster turnaround times by reducing bottlenecks, eliminating delays, and improving overall efficiency – accomplishing more in less time.
Increasing productivity through BPM can be seen in two ways. Firstly, by channelling resources away from mundane tasks and towards more valuable and strategic activities. And secondly; by equipping employees with the necessary tools and processes to complete that high-impact work faster and more effectively.
Take service-oriented industries for example; BPM can speed-up response times by automating tasks, improving communication channels, and enabling real-time collaboration among team members. This enables organisations to promptly address customer inquiries, provide faster service delivery, and strengthen customer satisfaction.
Business Process Management helps to increase both transparency and accountability in a business by creating a clear framework that defines ownership and responsibilities. By documenting and mapping out processes, BPM provides visibility into the entire workflow, enabling employees to understand their roles and the sequence of tasks. This transparency helps foster a culture of accountability, as individuals have a clear understanding of their responsibilities and how their work contributes to the overall process.
BPM helps organisations ensure compliance with industry regulations and internal policies by allowing them to implement compliance by design.
By taking a step back to gain a broad view of processes and the steps within them, organisations can pinpoint exactly where to integrate the necessary compliance checks and controls directly within processes – minimising the risk of non-compliance. This is key for organisations in regulated industries such as Finance, Energy, and Pharma.
Business Process Management vs Business Process Automation
BPM and Business Process Automation (BPA) are often used interchangeably, but the two are not synonymous, and it’s important to know the difference. Now that we’ve traversed the murky waters of BPM; let’s talk about the distinction between the two.
As we know, BPM is all about managing and optimising business processes as a whole, involving the analysis, design, and improvement of processes, considering both people and technology. It’s a comprehensive approach that goes beyond automation.
BPA on the other hand, focuses specifically on automating tasks within a process, using technology to make things faster and more efficient by reducing human touchpoints and manual effort. BPA is a specific component or strategy within the broader context of BPM.
In a nutshell; BPM is the big picture of managing processes, while BPA is the specific technique of automating tasks within those processes.
Business Process Management Platforms
If we think of Business Process Automation as a tool to help you in your BPM endeavours, then Business Process Management Platforms are the toolbox that BPA comes in.
Equipped with all manner of functionality to streamline processes, BPM Platforms like the CARA Platform bring all the essentials together in one centralised hub. Giving you the power to design, model, automate and manage your business processes by leveraging features like process builders, workflow automations, and reporting & dashboards to shed light on what’s working and what’s not.
A good BPM Platform is a master of connecting the dots, fostering collaboration, integrating with other systems, and ensuring the smooth flow of data and processes through the business. These platforms give you full visibility into your processes, uncovering bottlenecks, and giving you the ability to make data-driven decisions to continuously enhance your operations. Plus, they’re a key player in augmenting the future of digital transformation.
The Future of Business Process Management
There are a number of exciting trends and possibilities that are likely to shape the future of Business Process Management; Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Low-Code Development are just a few of them.
Many businesses forced to transform their operations rather abruptly due to Covid-19, and many are still reacting to the huge shake-up to the way we work and the way businesses run. Now more than ever, a business’ workforce is operating remotely, driving the need for more efficient processes, transformation, and importantly, digitisation. Thus, digital tools and platforms for BPM are becoming an increasingly invaluable resource for organisations.
We asked Generis COO Max Kelleher what he thinks the future of Business Process Management looks like:
“While we’re already seeing great advances in usability and flexibility in terms of business process design within platforms, most are still very limited in terms of their triggers, modifications, and outcomes because the automations themselves simply don’t have enough access to enterprise data or content. If you can describe any condition about your enterprise data and deliver consistent outcomes either through workflows or automation, then we’re really able to not only drive consistency, but also agility in designing and optimising day to day work”.
The CARA Platform unites best of breed business process management, content services, data management, and low code configuration on a single platform as a way to completely transform the way your business operates. Find out about the CARA Platform’s Business Process Management capabilities.