In any business, it’s easy for processes to become chaotic, especially when one process is handed off to another department. You can lose sight of where things are, and you run the risk of work redundancies because of unnecessary duplications. And of course, there’s the fact that anyone can make mistakes.
BPM as a methodology
Business process management (BPM) is firstly a methodology that formalizes how you manage the many different departments or teams in your company. It defines roles and actions served by each individual, plus the outputs needed from each part of the team to serve the interests of the client or customer. BPM provides visibility, allowing you to analyze the bottlenecks in your business and make improvements where necessary to maximize efficiency.
BPM as an approach
BPM, as an approach, is much like Six Sigma and Lean. The main differences between these approaches is that the Lean methodology centers on limiting waste, and each step in the process should add value to the product. Six Sigma, on the other hand, centers on quality and limiting defects. Both Lean and Six Sigma originated from a manufacturing standpoint, whereas BPM focuses on optimizing business processes.
All businesses have processes, be it a business that provides consumer products or a business that delivers services. Business processes encompass the actions and each action’s byproduct to come to the desired output. Business processes include the people that are involved, the steps that need to be performed and the systems you use to get things done.
The BPM lifecycle
Below is the BPM lifecycle:
- Design. The lifecycle of BPM starts at designing the business process. The project manager must study the different business process of each team to reach an optimized process that can be accomplished within the shortest possible time.
- Modeling. The business process would then be modeled and simulated, like “what if” scenarios.
- Execution. Once the business process model has been approved, it can then be deployed.
- Monitoring. The business process will then be closely monitored for any aspect that needs fixing.
- Optimization. Once process inefficiencies are identified, steps to improve the overall effectiveness of the system are undertaken.
Business process management software (BPMS) is a technology that can help you enforce the way that a policy or process is actually performed. BPMS can visually represent the flow of work and information from one team to the next in the organization.
With the use of BPMS, you can create policy documents and store them in central libraries or servers for ready access by everyone concerned. BPMS can also generate forms tools that capture the necessary information, and then route this information to the appropriate departments and people.
Moreover, BPMS helps with the monitoring, measuring and tracking of the performance of the many teams you handle, by providing insight into individual and team performances through metrics, averages, volumes, and other types of measurable data.
BPMS and design
“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second rule is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” – Bill Gates
A BPMS is only as good as its design. While it is an enabler, it cannot fix broken processes. Important as it is to start off on the right foot, in this dynamic and highly competitive environment, doing things right the first time can be next to impossible. A good BPM, therefore, needs to be flexible, other than first and foremost have the end user in mind.
The pillars that make a good BPM
The three pillars of all good BPM are:
- People. People need to buy in to the business process model and software for the system to work.
- Processes. The processes need to be clearly defined and adhered to.
- Technology. The technology must be usable and efficient.
Typical BPM adoption mistakes
Some common mistakes in adopting a BPM strategy are:
- Early software configuration
- Lack of flexibility
- Lack of training
- Too much automation
Software configuration must be done only after the business process has been thoroughly studied. Software should never be adopted to reduce headcount, or your people will not support you in its implementation. Uncooperative staff, especially during training, will waste your investment, both time and resources, into the BPM.