Integrating Business Process Management (BPM) with Business Management Systems
The structure of the standard management system has changed little in the past 30 years. However recent revisions to the ISO standards for quality and the environment have forced a re-think on the structure of the document repository, leading to a paradigm shift in thinking towards a process based business management system.
The legacy approach that uses the standard Document Management System to maintain content is now inflexible and cumbersome.
While both national and global markets require compliance to regulations and industry standards, the drive for competitiveness is unceasing. With processes forming such a major part of the ISO 9001:2015 quality standard, there is now recognition that delivering maximum performance has maximum priority.
The incorporation of these complementary techniques improves the value of the business management system significantly by providing a combination of Compliance and Process Improvement. Maintaining Compliance can be expensive and resource hungry, but these costs can be offset with improvements to the operational processes. Let’s look at how these new standards and practices are changing the way business process management (BPM) and management systems are structured and how a combined process approach provides an efficient means to ISO compliance.
What is Business Process Management?
Business Process Management (BPM) refers to methods for tracking, studying, and improving business processes.
An understanding of what’s taking place (as is) is essential for implementing changes that lead to improvements in efficiency and profitability (to be). Business processes are normally viewed in terms of workflow, although there are many factors at work in any process, such as tools, documentation, and staffing. Any or all of these factors may require adjustments for continuous improvement. Poorly designed or non-existent processes lead to poor information flow and inefficiency.
Business Process Management in the Enterprise
Managing processes is considered an essential practice, but effective process management requires structured approaches and proven techniques. Although there are business process management software tools and technologies to support these methods, managing processes requires streamlining work or information flows to align with company goals. It’s about designing and adopting better ways to accomplish tasks across the enterprise. This process approach is one of the eight principles upon which ISO 9001: 2015 is constructed. The process approach maintains that a desired process result or “output” as it is defined is more effectively achieved when resources and activities are managed as a process.
Using this process management approach to improve results typically requires the following concepts:
* Organising processes in terms of outcome and value rather than specific task efficiency. The “output”.
* Improving designs prior to adding process automation
* Defining policies for specific roles and accountability. Human nature often leads to a loss of focus as the momentum of a new initiative fades.
* Creating standardized processes so they can be more easily studied, measured, and provide consistent quality
* A culture of change so that all processes can undergo continuous improvements
* Gradual improvement rather than replacement or reinvention of existing processes. Dramatic changes can require retraining and periods of adjustment that minimize any potential gain.
A Culture of Improvement
Process management is rarely a one-time problem solver. Effective process management requires constant evaluation of both potential improvements and the effect of the changes made. Integrating process management across departments is a continuous cycle of analyzing potential rewards, costs, and risks.
The most basic form of process improvement is simply re-organising workflow. For example, using the Agility Systems process mapping tool is simple and fast, and allows re-creation of the set of integrated activities performed as well as providing an overview of how the process actually works. This accurate overview can then be used to re-distribute labour, re-evaluate the economy regarding movement of the operators or re-stage materials.
Most processes also rely on the flow of information which could be traditional hard copies, mobile devices, or client-server software platforms. For example, within a production/manufacturing environment one station in the process feeds the next, so that work must be completed at point A before work can begin at point B.
Without effective processes, this can be an ad-hoc system of sequential rather than integrated tasks. The slightest delay or over-production at any station could lead to bottlenecks. Workflow must be viewed as a system rather than a series of tasks.
What Business Process Management is Not
Proper business process management isn’t focused on perfecting the movement of goods from A to B and then B to C but in designing tasks that can be done in parallel, saving time and increasing productivity. This improves total output without the loss of control and quality. A good process minimizes the waste of time and resources while providing a balanced and coordinated flow. That includes minimizing the impact of issues such as staffing shortages, mechanical failures, or bad materials.
Workflow is more than just smoothly running processes. The ability to manage multiple processes taking place at the same time should also allow for exceptions and failures through business-specific rules.
Process management almost always involves these six basic steps:
* Redesign and testing
* Implementing the new model
* Monitoring to ensure success
* Managing resources, human and otherwise, to support the change
* Introducing process automation where possible to maximize output and sustain quality
Business Process Management and Information Flow
In today’s digital environment, process management frequently takes the form of establishing connections between IT resources and development. For better communication, this can require adoption of process execution and management notation languages. This creates a standard of documentation that better facilitates both collaboration and IT development.
Part of a well-managed process is ensuring that the right information gets to the right spot at the right time. The communication process is just as critical as the actual tasks performed. Each workstation in the flow needs to have all the data necessary to proceed with each step. Otherwise, there are further delays in asking questions or waiting for approval or clarification. It’s also necessary that there be systems in place for data collection so that the entire process is documented for study.
Process management is designed to capture data in order to tackle complex issues. This allows insights into data-driven as well as organizational factors, either of which could become instruments of change.
Traditionally, process management is done in-house for both large and small businesses, but the era of cloud computing has led to the growing availability of Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions that can be centrally managed and shared. There are full-service application suites that encompass the following capabilities:
* Discovery and mapping of processes
* Software modelling and design
* Implementing business rules
* Workflow analysis
* Use of data for creating and testing simulations
The goal of process management is to minimize waste and error. As a continuous method, it provides increasing value to both company stakeholders and their customers.
Integrating BPM with the Management System
To recap, Management Systems are systematic frameworks designed to manage a company’s policies, procedures and processes and promote continuous improvement.
To cope with the multiple demands of ISO and industry standards, and to align with the process approach of ISO 9001 specifically, the incorporation of these complementary techniques improves the value of the management system and drives Process Improvement through Workflow and its automation capabilities.
Recognising the power of BPM technology and the visual simplicity of the process mapping methodology, the overlapping of these techniques makes their incorporation within the management system extremely compelling.
By assimilating the business process management tool within the management system software, processes can be orchestrated to link to portals and can extract data from applications.
Treated separately, the sum of the parts will not be achieved.
Written By Peter Shields, Managing Director of BusinessPort
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