Apr 23, 2019

Business process management: the backbone of successful enterprise

A short primer on what it does and how to use it

In today's high-stakes business environment, firms are recognizing that they must satisfy a wide range of stakeholder demands:

  • Customers want useful, innovative products and services that create satisfaction
  • Shareholders and owners want efficient and well-managed operations that keep costs down and maximize profits
  • Employees want satisfying work
  • Society wants companies to comply with statutory and regulatory requirements

To meet these demands, successful companies have learned that a functional approach to operations – that is, one that organizes a firm according to specific roles, such as finance and marketing – no longer achieves the results they desire.

Instead, they first consider their objectives, then take steps to achieve them through their business processes. Business processes consist of the tasks, resources, and behaviors that produce value for an organization. Digital workflow, which defines, executes, automates, and streams jobs, information, and documents from one worker to another, is at the core of most efficient business processes today. Ideally, each business process measurably helps a firm accomplish its mission and contributes to its success.

Many companies take a comprehensive approach to business processes through business process management (BPM). BPM is the discipline and tool set for improving a business process through design, development, implementation, monitoring, and maintenance. Typically, firms use a software suite to plan, organize and control all the process activities that they undertake.

The different elements of BPM

BPM has many subsets. Business process improvement (BPI), for example, applies a range of methodologies to help company leaders identify process areas in need of improvement. Business process reengineering (BPR), meanwhile, analyzes, rethinks, and redesigns business processes – often from the ground up. Finally, process intelligence (PI) provides real-time monitoring of computerized business processes and activities to determine where bottlenecks and interruptions occur.

As well, two tools are key to successful BPM. The first is the graphical representation known as Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN). It models the steps of a planned business process from end to end as a means of identifying potential improvements. The second is Web Services Business Process Execution Language (WS-BPEL), the standard programming language that enables the defining and creation of business processes as web services.

BPM software has evolved from the days when programmers and experts applied it to automate workflow. Today, it has become a useful tool for all business users. It now has powerful integration capabilities and can effectively optimize and maintain business processes to drive continual improvement.

About the author

James Luxford

James Luxford

VP, Digital Solutions

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