How to define Business Process Management (BPM) in just one sentence? While there are a number of definitions, you will probably find some common ground here: BPM helps organizations do their job better.

What is BPM?

BPM can be defined as a strategy for managing and improving business performance by continually optimizing business processes in a closed cycle of modeling, execution, measurement, and improvement. BPM activities involve design and discovery by implementing and managing the execution of business processes within an appropriate governance framework.

What is a business process?

A business process is a set of associated activities carried out by people and systems that provide business value to internal or external customers.

Step 1 – Business Process Modeling

Process modeling occurs in this step, that is, a visual description of the sequence of activities, their flows and the people responsible. Usually a standard notation is used for the elaboration of this diagram, the most common being BPMN (Business Process Management Notation).

LET’S LOOK AT A REAL EXAMPLE:

An example would be a purchase order for material or services, commonly found in most organizations. After a requisition is made by an employee, the process goes to the purchasing analyst to verify previous budgets or existing stock. It then goes on to management for approval, where it may be broken down into sub-processes for authorization and purchasing. The people responsible, the rules and the sequence of activities are visually represented.

Purchase process BPMN

Here we have the first version of a purchasing process! With a diagram, we can understand the process more clearly, and also subject it to questioning. Is the model appropriate? Are there bottlenecks? Are all relevant areas involved in the process?

Step 2 – Automating the process

A suitably diagrammed process has its value. But what now? To take the next step, the use of technology is essential. BPM concepts are rooted in technological support. It is about translating the modeled process into something that can be executed.

Using our example, if a purchase order is more than  $1,000.00, the process requires management approval. A BPM system will interpret this rule and direct the activity to the approver. The person in charge of the activity receives the task in their inbox. They can then process or return/not approve a given task without worrying about the business rules, which are carried out by the system.

The complexity of automation also needs to consider the volume of executions. That is, the occurrences of a process, which occur simultaneously most of the time. This could be a problem for management done manually or individually, but it is a simple task for a BPM system.

Integrations are another important element in this stage of automation. We know that important information can be distributed across other sources and systems within the organization: information that may be essential for the business rules for modeled processes. It is important to have easy access to this information, regardless of the technology used.

Step 3 – Measuring and analyzing the process

Once you have automated a process with a system, you need to identify the key performance indicators (KPIs), for example:

  • How many purchase orders are there at each stage?
  • What is the average time to complete a purchase?
  • What is the average time for the approval of a purchase order?
  • What is each person’s workload? Are there bottlenecks?

Measuring and analyzing processes and is a key step in BPM. This way, you can know with certainty how well each process is working and where the problems are. As a result, you know where to best use your resources, time and money.

Step 4 – Improvement

The numbers help us identify opportunities for improvement, but they will only be useful if these improvements are actually implemented. Adjustments in workloads, resource redistribution and the elimination of activities that do not add value are some examples of improvements that can be implemented to improve process performance.

These changes need to be dynamic, but also controlled. The concept of revision is an important ally in this process. The changes are made and documented, and the new revision only comes into force once it has been approved. Meanwhile, users view and run the current version. At no time is the process unavailable.

Summary

SO WHAT IS BPM? IT IS A DISCIPLINE (METHODOLOGIES + TECHNOLOGIES) FOR AUTOMATINNG AND IMPROVING THE BUSINESS PROCESSES THAT SUPPORT OPERATIONS.

We have seen that it is simply not possible to grow if you manage your processes manually. Tools like e-mail or Excel spreadsheets are temporary solutions. Excel spreadsheets become unmanageable as the volume increases. The same thing occurs with emails. For this reason, you need the appropriate tool to manage them.

Any process can be improved and perfected, and BPM is your main ally for this task. Learn more about SoftExpert BPM, a solution that facilitates and guides the modeling, automation, analysis and revision of your processes, in addition to providing numerous other benefits.

Learn more about SoftExpert BPM

Tobias Schroeder

Author

Tobias Schroeder

MBA in Strategic Management from UFPR. Business and market analyst at SoftExpert, a software provider for enterprise-wide business processes automation, improvement, compliance management and corporate governance.

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