If business process management itself is not a technology or a software, how are these processes managed and monitored?
That’s where BPMS comes in. These are enterprise-level technology solutions that enable businesses to design, model, execute, automate, monitor, and improve their systems and related processes in a digital way.
It's either as part of one complete software solution or a combination of tools, with each fulfilling a different part of the BPM lifecycle. Departments like Human Resources, Procurement, Finance, and Sales process large amounts of information. They constantly need to analyze and improve that data. The data is then used to inform their decision-making, allowing them to make objective, rather than subjective decisions on the job.
Benefits of BPM Software
We already learned the benefits of Business Process Management, so how can software take these advantages to the next level? Efficiency is one of the most significant points. Not only does BPMS give employees a set of standardized tools to manage processes, it also helps problems become visible more quickly. In a company running hundreds or thousands of processes, it is not always easy for management to see where things are going wrong, and BPMS makes that more transparent.
Faster identification of breakdowns in processes means a faster response time, too. If you see something is going wrong, you can fix it sooner. That translates into organizational agility, the idea that you can change the way you operate to fit the goals, which is, of course, a competitive advantage. It also means solutions are defined and implemented when they are needed, rather than letting issues remain, so overall work quality is improved.
Finally, BPMS strengthens teamwork from two key perspectives. Firstly, collaboration between departments becomes easier, more automatic, and with reduced administrative load. Secondly, it frees people up from doing boring work that can be taken care of by smart technology, allowing them to spend more time connecting personally and working creatively together.
Elements of a Complete BPMS Program
In terms of major features of BPMS, many offer the following:
- A visual process designer, enabling people to sketch a process out. This is also known as process mapping.
- A drag-and-drop form builder, allowing data to be entered and routed to relevant departments.
- Workflow management features, a rules-based way to manage access and roles, assign tasks and set deadlines.
- Approval mechanisms, allowing for decisions to be made and to advance a process as it progresses through the steps.
- Integrations with existing software systems, including Application Programming Interface (API) support, webhooks, and features that help to eliminate manual data sharing.
- Testing and simulation tools, allowing you to run new processes before moving them to production.
- Activity monitoring and dashboards, to deliver instant visibility into system and business health.
- Reports and analytics, which give insights into key performance indicators.
BPMS and Automation
One feature set that is becoming increasingly common among business process management software is the set of automation capabilities. Process automation uses technology to perform complex business processes automatically. In other words, it enables you to identify tasks that are often manual and allocate them to a piece of software to undertake for you. It’s not quite robots taking over, but more reducing the need for people manually enter data, copying lines from spreadsheets, or repetitively clicking the same buttons.
Automation has been designed to remove bottlenecks, reduce errors, and reduce loss of data, all while increasing transparency, communication across departments, and speed of processing. While it would be great if all processes were automated, many are far from it. But that situation is about to change.
In the past, it didn’t make a lot of sense to invest in a big IT project to try and standardize and automate micro processes and long tail processes with all their variants. BPMS implementations focused on core systems and large-scale, mission-critical activities, the macro of the macro processes.
With the possibilities of hyperautomation and the advances in low-code / no-code software development, business process management is entering a new era where any employee can decide to become a citizen developer. You can learn to cheaply and effectively build processes automations to power your daily work, even using complex capabilities like machine learning and integrations to other software systems.
Summary: Business Process Management Software
Business Process Management Software (BPMS) is technology that enables large companies to design, model, execute, automate, monitor, and improve their systems and related processes in a digital way. It builds on the benefits of the BPM methodology by further increasing efficiency, enabling faster identification and solving of problems, elevating the quality of work, strengthening teams and helping organizations evolve into intelligent enterprises.
The adoption of BPMS varies from organization to organization, but it is quite widely embraced and a hallmark of the world’s most competitive companies. Yet, quite a few business processes remain unautomated to this day. To better understand the varying state out there today, we need to look at the process automation maturity spectrum, which we’ll do in the next lesson.