and optimized the mass production of his automobiles from 12+ hours to only 2.5 hours, there's been a process-centric and customer-centric approach to improving business results. What is business process management, after all, but the methods and tools used to monitor, streamline, and improve business processes? The point being: if production is faster and the demands for the product are met at a higher velocity, this improves the organization's bottom line.
Fundamentals of Business Process Management
You can't go far into the definition of BPM without talking about what a business process is. Business processes are basically activities that involve multiple people and resources, and lead to an outcome that produces value for the organization or its customers. A business process can lead to a positive outcome ideally, which delivers value. Or it can result in a negative outcome which reduces value.
Managing these processes requires business process management tools. BPM uses technology tools, specifically automation software, to visually depict — or model — the flow of work and information in your company. This model can then be used to create rules for each of your processes (e.g., who should be doing this? who should be notified at a certain milestone?). These rules will help you manage your processes. Finally, BPM software can help you monitor processes so improvements can be made. Just remember the old adage that while automation software can help efficient processes become more efficient, it won't make inefficient processes better.
Governing the usage of technology and software are the methodologies for managing business process flows. This is an entire industry that has grown up around educating teams and implementing frameworks for improving BPM in companies. The frameworks include:
- Lean - a methodology that focuses on cutting out all waste in processes. Lean seeks to create more value for customers while using fewer resources.
- Six Sigma - a quantifiable method for continuous process improvement that improves processes by measuring defects and eliminating them.
- TQM - (aka Total Quality Management) a method to improve products and services via continuous feedback.
- Lean Six Sigma - a hybrid method that eliminates waste so that processes are highly efficient, cost effective, and meet customers’ needs.
Before You Dive Into Business Process Management Software
A proper business process management system will enhance your efficiency. But even before going through the process of due diligence with software tools and vendors, you must be able to answer the following questions:
- What are the objectives of implementing a business process management software?
What pains are you trying to solve? And is BPM software the best solution for your organization at this time? If you can't identify the goals you want to achieve with this new tool, then you're spinning your wheels. On the other hand, clearly marked objectives will make planning much easier for all.
- How will the tool fit into your company?
In order to better understand how a BPM solution might fit into your organization, you have to understand your processes. Are your processes data-centric but needing a variety of integrations? Or will the BPM tool be used more for modeling workflows? What about factors such as scalability, or flow requirements?
- Is the company ready for process automation?
Have you communicated to your team why you're going for a BPM solution and how this will affect their day-to-day work? A business process manager must prepare a communication plan so that onboarding is as frictionless as possible, and any questions or concerns have a platform for being heard.
5 Items to Examine When Choosing a Solution
When you're ready to begin the process of searching for, and testing out, different tools and vendors then you must look at these five items in order to make the best decision:
- Customer references: Ask for customer references and make sure these customers actually purchased the vendor's software. Were they happy with the software and the service?
- Support: Test the vendor's support systems. Do they respond quickly? How will these support services scale when you onboard your firm?
- Technical resources: Look at provided learning materials such as knowledge bases, documentation, or wikis. What does the vendor provide for customers to educate themselves?
- Advisory capability: Look for a provider that understands your business situation or industry, and whose people seek to be more of a longterm partner rather than just make the sale. If they can provide guidance rather than simply product specs, you will have a better chance at working through whatever challenges lie ahead.
- Development experience: Make sure the vendor has long-term experience in developing and improving its products.
Why is business process management important to organizations? Because it's a way to deliver value to customers by optimizing existing processes. That makes the decision to purchase BPM software one of utmost importance for any firm that's ready to roll up its sleeves and commit to improving the way it works.