A Guide to Business Process Management (BPM)
BPM is a management methodology, used by executives to define how their organisation will achieve efficient, effective and sustainable results.
The main difference between Business Process Management and traditional management approaches is the adoption of Process Thinking and the development of an organisational culture that is Process Centric.
All organisations have processes that represent the steps undertaken to deliver a service or manufacture a good. Often these processes are not well documented or even well understood, they just happen. Often organisations will have well documented and followed procedures, however these alone do not represent a well managed, business process.
An executive utilising Process Thinking will aim to;
- Deliver value to Customers and Stakeholders as the key measures of process success.
- Manage processes as end-to-end activity streams that cross organisational functional boundaries.
- Align all processes with the organisation’s strategic directions.
Process Centric Culture
For most organisations it is easy to find stories about customers that have poor experiences or employees that can see obvious areas of dysfunction. Unfortunately, these occurrences are not rare, especially in large organisations where complexity often gets in the way of effective process. A culture of achieving process excellence is required to combat these issues.
An executive who is building a Process Centric organisational culture will;
- Assign accountability to Process Owners who are responsible for achieving results for their end-to-end process; regardless of the organisational structure that is undertaking the work of the process.
- Create a transparent view of the organisation’s processes and performance measures, ensuring that all activities undertaken are aligned to the organisation’s processes and all performance reporting is traceable back to the Key Performance Indicators of Business Processes.
- Adopt a Process Management Framework that details the processes that the organisation will follow to manage and improve all of it’s Business Processes.
The main benefits of Business Process Management are;
- Focus: All levels of an organisation are focussed on activities that deliver the right results for Customer and Stakeholders.
- Efficiency: The visibility of Business Processes allows concentration on inefficiencies as well as the opportunity to “re-use” common activities across the organisation.
- Measurable: All processes can be measured end-to-end and compared to expected results.
- Integration: Technology solutions can be better integrated as processes provide a level of abstraction over complex systems, providing a framework for better design of integrated technical solutions.
- Sustainability: Business Processes can be continually improved to adapt to changing organisation environments and continue to deliver results.
Implementation – Frameworks and Technology
The Business Process community has created frameworks and technology to support the implementation of Business Process Management.
A BPM Framework provides the organisation with it’s own set of processes that define how Business Processes are defined, designed, delivered, managed and improved. The frameworks covers many areas of an organisations business as it includes processes relating to Strategic Management, Organisational Change, Portfolio Management, Project Management, Business Analysis, System design and implementation as well as Continuous Improvement.
A key part of a framework determines how an organisation selects it’s Business Processes and determines what the scope of each Process Improvement Project is. This is a very different approach to most organisations where Projects are often defined and selected only in relation to a new capability that they will implement for the organisation.
Business Process Management Suites (BPMS) provide complex technical solutions that support the definition, execution and measurement of Business Processes. BPMS’s are also intrinsically linked to core business systems such as Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), Enterprise Resource Planning, Finance and Human Resource systems.
The implementation of a BPM Framework and BPMS is a very complex exercise as both need to be integrated across the organisation, involving significant organisational change.
Wikipedia defines Business Process Management as – a holistic management approach that promotes business effectiveness and efficiency while striving for innovation, flexibility, and integration with technology.
I will be adding more information to this guide, including example frameworks, process architecture, process analysis tools and summaries of teh available technologies. If you have any feedback on my guide – please feel free to add a comment to this page.