Business Process Management – What Is It?

The term Business Process Management (BPM) is a systematic approach to making a company’s workflow more efficient, more effective and more capable of adapting to the ever changing business environment. It also refers to how professionals study, change and monitor business processes for purposes of ensuring they run well and can be upgraded over time.

BPM is a field of both infrastructure management and operations management both of which are concerned with optimizing and maintaining an organization’s core operations and equipment. It is best thought as a business practice that encompasses structured methods and techniques. BPM is not a technology, but there are technologies in the market that carry this descriptor by virtue of what they enable, such as identify and changing the already existing processes so that they align with desired, presumably improved, future state of affairs.

The purpose of Business Process Management is to minimize miscommunication and human error, focusing stakeholders on the requirements of their duties. Business Process Management is often the meeting point within an organization between the IT department and the Line-of-Business (LOB). Business Management Notation (BPMN) and Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) were both developed to help in the facilitation of communication between the LOB and IT. Both languages are quite easy to learn which means most business professionals can quickly and easily learn to use them in designing processes. Both BPMN and BPEL strictly adhere to the basic fundamentals of programming, so that these processes created in either language are made easy for developers to translate them into hard code.

There are three basic types of BPM frameworks in the market today. Horizontal frameworks focus on the design and development areas of business practices and are generally focused on technology and reuse. Vertical Business Process Management frameworks focus on a particular set of coordinated tasks. They also have pre-built templates which can be easily accessed, configured and deployed.

Full service Business Process Management suites encompass the following six basic concepts:

• Process discovery and project scoping

• Project scoping and process discovery

• Process modeling and design

• Workflow engine

• Business rules engine

• Simulation and testing

For a long time now, on-premise business practices management has been the norm for several enterprises. Advancements in cloud computing have been the reason for increased interests in on-demand, software as a service offerings (SaaS).

Business Process Management is the “ultra” business practices advancement technique since it explicitly takes into consideration the complexity of cross-repository processes and inter-applications, and includes data-driven, as well as content driven processes-all on an ongoing basis.

Generally driven by industry rules, Business Process Management incorporates a lot of flow charting and operational analysis as well as the more complex offerings in the space which not only include process design but also simulation tools. This helps process run virtually so as to identify bottlenecks or any other issues related to either the underlying infrastructure or people.

Successfully executing BPM requires the following:

• Organizing processes around outcomes instead of tasks to make sure the required focus is maintained

• Correcting as well as improving processes prior to automating them

• Installing processes and assigning ownership lest the improvements and entire work simply drift away-and they will, as the momentum peter out and the human nature takes control

• Making sure business processes are standard across enterprises so they can be readily available, understood, managed, risks mitigated and errors reduced

• Activating continuous change so that any advancements can be extended and easily propagated over a period of time

• Boosting the already existing business practices around the existing outcomes as opposed to building radically fresh or ‘perfect” ones, since that can take a long period of time as to negate and erode any gains achieved

Business Process Management should not be made a one-time exercise. Instead, it should include a continuous evaluation and analysis of processes and incorporate taking prompt actions to improve the total flow of business practices. All this focuses on a continuous BPM life cycle of evaluating and improving the organization.

The steps that can be recognized in Business Process Management include:

• Analyzing

• Re-designing and process modeling

• Implementing

• Monitoring

• Managing

• Automating

Directing information to where it should go to, when it needs to go there is just a portion of the big picture-much of the task lies with first requesting the required insights and then having them communicated in an immediate but useful manner. This is basically what reporting and querying software entails.

The success of Business Process Management depends in a large measure how well professionals label the data in their repositories for easier identification and inclusion when appropriate queries are received. A major advancement towards achieving this target exists in a comprehensive specification of semantics and syntax that business intelligence and data warehousing tools can leverage to successfully interchange shared metadata.