Business Process Management (BPM)
Business Process Management (BPM) is an approach to change and the management of business processes that focuses on:
- The alignment of activity to the strategic goals of the organisation
- Business process effectiveness in meeting the needs of the stakeholders
- Business process efficiency
- Deep integration with information technology
- Continuous improvement
BPM has some empirical studies suggests the approach can improve:
- Customer Satisfaction
- Product Quality
- Delivery Speed
- Time to Market
- Organisational Efficiency
Business Process Management (BPM) originated post the advent of Business Process Reengineering (BPR) and is an approach to change heavily linked to Information Technology needs.
In many ways BPM went back to the roots of Business Process Improvement (BPI) and significant change approaches like Total Quality Management (TQM) and then emphasised the reliance on technology to get things done in so many business processes. Business Process Management attempts to separate itself from TQM by stressing the integration and part in change that information technology plays. It also stressed the strategic nature of a business process and that this view end to end across an organisation enabled the flow of information, goods and services to be seen as a strategic asset.
Business Process Management attempted to address the criticisms of BPR based on the exclusion of a people element in process redesign by looking at both the business flow and the people aspects of changing a process.
In other respects BPM follows all the core principles of Business Process Improvement (BPI).
There are some other naming conventions for Business Process Management which are worth noting:
Management By Business Process - this can be confusing as it is not clear how 'management' with is hierarchical and functional structure approaches a process
Corporate Management Through Processes - an attempt to address the issue above and bring in the end to end nature across a business of its processes
Company Performance Management Through Processes - an attempt to understand that BPM is all about company performance to stakeholder needs and that this will be achieved by managing its processes
Writers such as Thiault1 have attempted to help this 'corporate end to end' view of managing performance by articulating two elements of managing corporate performance through processes:
- Process Governance - all governance activities that allocate resources and given activity relating to the maintenance and improvement of business processes and
- Process management - all the management activities that are required for a process to perform
Business Process Management is still seen as many as a process imrpovement methodolgy based around Information Technology and its needs with complex process modelling and IT models being required for implementation. BPM specialists argue that the people element is just as important and carries equal weight as BPM attempts to align activity with a redesigned process and its technology components.
BPM has in recent years attempted to integrate itself with other well known Business Process Improvement (BPI) approaches such as Six Sigma as it can use many of the same basic steps and tools such as the Six Sigma DMAIC process improvement methodology.
BPM has suffered because of its linkage with Information Technology. Many of the initiatives described as BPM originate in Information technology based or driven approaches to change in a specific area of a business i.e the implementation of a new IT system across a business unit.
BPM is seen as having a number of generic steps:
- Vision - the strategic need and alignment
- Design - Existing As- Is process understanding and the design of the To-Be future process
- Modelling - the testing of the design proposal against different variables and criteria and what-if questions
- Execution and business rules - the delivery of the new process and the business rules that drive information technology and procedural implementation and performance
- Monitoring - Monitoring and reporting on the results of the new process. Again from an IT perspective using tools like Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) and Process Mining of events reported via the technology.
- De-bottle-necking and process optimisation - refining the process following the monitoring phase
- Initiating Business Process Reengineering - when significant redesign is required to ensure process meets new and changing needs
As can be seen from these elements the 'IT centric' nature of BPM can dominate thinking. Indeed IT has developed a series of software programmes and approaches for delivery of BPM and is developing standards to support his approach. These 'suites' of software to support BPM revolve around data modelling and analytics, content management systems and collaboration tools.
BPM continues to evolve and tries to take the Business Process Improvement (BPI) basics, the Business Process Reengineering (BPR) radical change approach and combine them with detailed information technology needs to:
- drive end to end process change across an organisation with supporting technologies
- Bring company wide data needs together
- Create IT infrastructures that support the business process flows
- Integrate systems and consolidate the Information Technology real estate
- Reuse software computer code in an efficient manner following an approach called Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)
BPM should be seen as one approach to change which is pulling from a number of other Business Process Improvement (BPI) ideas and focuses heavily on the needs of the technology as well as the people.
Note 1 - Domonique Thialut - Managing Performance Through Business Processes