Business process management (BPM) is the practice of using automation to speed up the workflow for business processes that occur on a regular basis or in predictable patterns. It’s different from project management, which focuses on one-time events or projects that need to be completed at irregular times. Business process management is about eliminating bottlenecks and improving operational efficiency for the routine processes you’re using every day. BPM technology works with your other software systems, so you can find the best ways to use them most efficiently.
There’s little doubt that your enterprise already runs on digital solutions, but technology alone won’t be enough to keep you competitive. Here’s how a BPM suite can help you use process automation to its fullest potential and how you can decide on the right solution for your business.
The BPM Lifecycle Through Data Virtualization
In a world of big data analytics, integrations, and digital transformations, there’s a good chance that you’re already familiar with data virtualization. This is a way of collecting and transforming data automatically, so it can be shared between multiple systems. This gives you a single source of truth to monitor all your business processes and gather insights to improve them.
BPM software can use data virtualization to essentially make a digital copy of your business and operations, so it can effectively plan and test different solutions to implement for process improvement. It does this using the following steps.
- Design: The software analyzes each business process by breaking down the individual steps. It then looks for inefficiencies in the process and begins designing ways to overcome them. The new processes will be tested in a virtual environment.
- Modelling: This is when the software lays out a visual design, such as a flowchart, for the new process, so business leaders can have a clear idea of the new event sequence.
- Execution: At this point, the software puts the new process into action. It’s tested with a small group of business users first, and upon success, it can be deployed everywhere.
- Monitoring: As the new process takes over the workflow, it will be checked against business rules and metrics of progress to ensure it’s both more efficient than the previous process and working as intended.
- Optimization: This is the final stage where any improvements that still need to be made to the new process will be implemented.
Of course, business objectives can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Here are the basic types of BPM, so you can choose the right one for your business.
If you’ve been keeping up with technology solutions, then you probably already have integrated software systems that feed master data to a single source for more effective data analytics. Integration BPM automates processes that occur between existing systems with little to no human intervention. A good example would be the process of your CRM system sharing customer demographics data with a marketing research information system to help your marketing department come up with more relevant promotions.
This approach is meant to improve business processes that have documentation front and center. This type of BPM software would be great for your human resources team, which is always dealing with a large volume of documents that need to stick to precise business rules. You can automate the gathering of application forms and the distribution of employee onboarding documents for successful candidates, for instance. This frees up the team to focus on core processes.
Naturally, no matter how much automation technology you incorporate in your enterprise, you’ll always need to rely on human workers and processes. What you don’t need to do, however, is slow down your workers by requiring them to report progress directly to a supervisor every step of the way. With a convenient dashboard, you can let workers report at their own pace, and supervisors can check up on progress when they have time.
A full BPM suite will include solutions for each of these approaches, but it can be difficult to roll out everything at once. Determine which workflows your business needs to improve the most, and that will lead you to the correct software to focus on.