Drive process change that delivers ongoingvalue
No two business processes are alike, but all are in a near-constant state of flux. Sometimes leaders and teams tweak processes on the fly; other times they completely reengineer them. Business process management (BPM) is how organizations help ensure that any business process change is the rightone.
Through effective BPM initiatives, your company can implement more efficient, flexible processes. More quickly and precisely determine where to deploy workflow automation and other innovative technologies. And achieve continuous business process improvement through monitoring andanalysis.
BPM initiatives that drive meaningful change generally encompass the following business process management steps: plan, design, model, implement, monitor, andoptimize.
These six stages of business process management comprise the BPM lifecycle. A structured, cyclical approach based on best practices, the BPM lifecycle provides a useful framework for modernizing operational, management, and supportprocesses.
Step one: Plan your strategy
First, collaborate with management to create a business process management strategy that supports the organization’s core business goals. Companies want to invest in high-impact, low-risk projects that deliver measurable results tightly aligned with theirKPIs.
Look at business areas where progress on meeting company objectives has slowed or stalled. Broadly define what needs to potentially change—and how—by categorizing the associated business activities into one of three main types of businessprocessmanagement:
- Human-centric BPM. Largely lacking automation, a human-centric process revolves around people. Certain decisions, approvals, and other process tasks are uniquely meant for employees, customers, and other individuals to perform. In these cases, BPM should empower individuals with well-designed application interfaces and notification and trackingfunctions. Human-centric BPM examples include hiring processes in which HR personnel work with managers to post job openings, screen candidates, ask for referrals, and interview candidates. Another instance is customer complaint processes handled by servicerepresentatives.
- Document-centric BPM. Processes involving paper- and electronic-based documents must be handled with care and in accordance with company, industry, and regulatory requirements. Document-centric BPM frequently uses workflow automation to promote efficiency and accuracy while maintainingcompliance. Document-intensive BPM examples can be found in legal, finance, purchasing, and other departments that route contracts and agreements to multiple people for review and signoff. Another example is medical organizations that maintain electronic healthrecords.
- Integration-centric BPM. This category focuses on integrating and automating systems, such as enterprise resource management (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), and human resource management systems (HRMS) applications. Integration-centric BPM enables people to quickly access apps, data, and services through connectors and APIs, enhancing user productivity andsatisfaction. Integration-centric BPM examples include marketing and sales teams that use interconnected campaign, lead analytics, and CRM tools to share detailed information about potential and existingcustomers.
Step two: Design and map idealprocesses
Once you’ve clearly defined strategic objectives and have support from the business, analyze and map each process targeted for improvement. Identify key process events, the manual and automated tasks required for each one, the people who perform them, timelines, and any technologies used. Look for bottlenecks and delays; redundant, unnecessary tasks; and areas characterized by excessive costs and human errors, customer dissatisfaction, ornoncompliance.
Next, once you fully understand the “as-is” state, use the insights to establish new business requirements for the process. Then, design and map an ideal “to-be” state. Brainstorm various ways to solve problems. Also, outline metrics to track business process improvement. Ask process stakeholders, whose participation is critical to project success, to help collect assessment data and provide feedback ondesigns.
Early on in your BPM initiatives, your company may want to adopt a business process improvement methodology to further structure your approach and foster a shared sense of purpose. Although business process improvement methodologies have different principles and techniques, they all seek to help eliminate waste, remove obstacles, enhance collaboration, and drive culturalchange.
Common business process improvement methodsinclude:
- Agile management
- Lean management
- Six Sigma
- Total quality management
Also, take advantage of process mining, process mapping, and other business process management software (BPMS) to quickly analyze and visualize workflows. Similarly, intelligent BPMS (iBPMS) solutions can help enhance workflows with cloud, AI, and big data analytics capabilities.
Step three: Model and test processflows
In this step, put the ideal design to the test. Build a prototype model that digitally represents all process activities, business rules, and data flows. Then, run simulations against the model using different combinations of variables, such as time, costs, and resources. Based on the results, continue to adjust and test the model, modifying existing workflows or creating new ones to drive optimal businessoutcomes.
Simulation modeling provides a cost-effective way to analyze how a process performs given different conditions. BPMS tools that automate modeling, testing, and analysis can significantly streamline this step. They can also help your company more quickly determine how to improve a design before rolling out changes in the workenvironment.
Step four: Implementimprovements
You’re ready to go live with your optimized process. Start with a proof-of-concept solution in which a small group tests the process. Then, use their feedback to evolve the process accordingly. Take advantage of BPMS prebuilt templates and connectors to develop intuitive user interfaces for newly automated and integratedprocesses.
Before you formally launch the process with the larger organization, put plans and resources in place for project and change management. Transition teams appropriately so you can smooth out initial kinks, avoid operational interruptions, and promote adoption. Also, finalize the metrics, and use business intelligence (BI) tools to build dashboards and generate reports that provide real-time or near real-timeinsights.
As part of your change management plan, update job roles and responsibilities and hold training sessions with employees. Notify affected customers and suppliers and offersupport.
Step five: Monitor and track performancemetrics
In this phase of the BPM lifecycle, identify potential areas for further change by monitoring data for generating performance metrics. Depending on your objectives, you can delve into different aspects of new process efficiencies, such as howwell:
- A workflow functions within aprocess.
- A process functions within the largerorganization.
- A process operates from a technicalperspective.
Also, talk with stakeholders to learn more about time and cost savings—both realized and potential—and uncoverbottlenecks.
Use BI tools to generate, visualize, and report on metrics, comparing the statistics with industry benchmarks and evaluating how they measure up to your organization’s KPIs. Once again, take advantage of BPMS solutions to assist with data collection and simulation modeling. Monitor performance as regularly as possible to ensure the BPM initiative continues to meet its aims and support the organization’s larger businessgoals.
Step six: Optimize based on freshinsights
Your monitoring and tracking efforts have generated a plethora of actionable insights. Now is the time to use this information to double down on business process improvement. Through continuous iteration and innovation, keep refining the process and its workflows to achieve new operational efficiencies. Often, you’ll uncover additional opportunities for automation, standardization, andintegration.
The quest to generate greater business value never ends, and neither do process monitoring and optimizing activities. Business strategies, marketplace conditions, and regulatory requirements continue to change, so be ready to adapt your processes inresponse.
If circumstances call for significant updates, begin the BPM lifecycle again. By now, your enterprise has made the stages of business process management its own. Leaders and process stakeholders can come together to strategize on newinitiatives.
Frequently asked questions
What are the steps of business processmanagement?
The steps of business process management (BPM) commonly include six phases: plan, design, model, implement, monitor, and optimize. These steps provide a structured, cyclical approach for business process improvement, including streamlining manual processes through workflow automation.
What is the BPMlifecycle?
The BPM lifecycle is a standardized, step-by-step framework for iterative business process improvement. It encompasses strategy, design, model, implement, monitor, and optimize phases. Companies often use business process management software to simplify and accelerate activities within every stage, especially when automating manualprocesses.
What are the various business process managementtypes?
Business process management can be categorized into three main categories: human-centric, document-centric and integration-centric. The extent to which BPM uses automation and integration depends on the degree to which only people can perform critical process tasks.
Where can I find examples of business processmanagement?
BPM examples exist within and across all types of organizations. For example, human-centric BPM focuses on creative processes. Document-centric BPM spans legal and accounting processes. Integration-centric BPM facilitates processes for online purchases andbanking.
What are the different business process improvementmethodologies?
Common business process improvement methods include Agile management, Kaizen, Lean management, Six Sigma, and Total qualitymanagement.