Welcome back to our business process primer unit. Having looked at business processes in detail, we now look at the role of business process management (BPM). This is an approach used to identify, analyze, measure, and improve an organization’s processes. Despite regularly being confused for ‘just another type of software,’ BPM isn’t a technology or piece of software at all. Instead, it should be seen more as a drive for operational excellence, helping a company to run faster, better, and at a lower expense.
The Six Stages of the BPM Lifecycle
How is this achieved? That’s where we should introduce the BPM lifecycle, a six-stage process that a company continually undertakes to strive for operational excellence. The six stages are design, model, implement, monitor, optimize, and re-engineer.
Let’s look briefly at these six stages:
- Design: where existing processes are identified, and new versions are then designed.
- Model: where you look at how the process should behave in different scenarios.
- Implement: where the process is carried out and supporting applications are development.
- Monitor: where you track the improvements to see how they perform.
- Optimize: where you continue to modify and improve the process.
- Re-engineer: where you look at simplifying a process if it’s become too complex or isn’t delivering the required improvements.
The Benefits of Managing the Business Process Lifecycle
By running through the BPM lifecycle, companies can benefit in several ways. These include:
- Enhanced visibility into organizational activity and control over the key tasks that make a business successful.
- The ability to identify and solve bottlenecks or blockers, saving time and costs.
- Improved collaboration and communication across the business, allowing staff to focus on the work that adds the most value.
- Greater agility, because transparent and consistently documented processes can be adapted or modernized more quickly when needed.
- As mentioned previously, BPM helps a business to achieve organizational efficiency.
The Challenges of Business Process Management
As with all business approaches, implementing BPM across an organization can be challenging or come with limitations, usually tied to the trade-off between standardization and flexibility.
The introduction of BPM can impact innovation and future planning. With resources being used to their full extent, and in a rigid way, staff aren't free to find creative solutions or use different approaches to tackle a problem.
Implementing BPM can involve bringing in external consultants and organizations may face a resistance to change or a lack of trust among its staff. This can make the process expensive, place a burden on administration if the methodology is not strictly followed. It can end up being inefficient, which is the opposite of what it aims to achieve.
Summary: Business Process Management
Business process management is how an organization can analyze, measure, and improve its processes. It can bring great benefits, but it can also create a resistance to adaptation. It’s important to strike the right balance between standardization and efficiency, with the ability to effectively respond to changing business conditions.
Furthermore, the methodology itself is not software, but it can be greatly facilitated by software. By following the steps systematically to understand how to manage even the smallest processes, a citizen developer can clearly see how their low-code / no-code automation or application should be built and managed over its lifecycle to ensure it continues to run effectively.
In the following lesson in this business process primer unit, we look at the software used by businesses to manage their process.