What is Business Process Management? BPM Explained

Key takeaways

After reading this article you should have a good understanding of the following points:

  • What business process management is 
  • The stages of business process management
  • The role of business process management in an organisation

What is Business Process Management, and why do we need it?

Business process management (BPM) is all about managing your business processes so they deliver the results you need. This is important because good processes help you to deliver better customer service, higher quality work, and improved productivity—and that means more revenue and a stronger, healthier business.

 

It’s not just about improving the way you work—it’s about making sure your workforce has the tools it needs to do great work.

The stages of BPM

The stages of BPM are:

 

  • Process discovery: What is the process? This can be done through interviewing stakeholders, reviewing past documentation, and observing current procedures in action.

 

  • Process analysis: Is this the best way to do things? Once you know what your process is, you identify its strengths and weaknesses by measuring its costs, value, efficiency (compared to industry standards), and other factors.

 

  • Process design: How could it be improved? Now comes the fun part—you take the insights from step two and redesign your process to create a more streamlined version that has better efficiency, customer experience, etc. At this stage, you can conduct tests on a small scale before implementing changes for everyone if you want to test viability first.

 

  • Process implementation: How does it get implemented? This stage involves making changes in IT systems (if applicable), training employees on how to execute the new processes effectively and efficiently, communicating any changes with customers or other relevant people outside of your organisation, etc.

 

  • Process monitoring: How is it performing now? After implementation is complete, you need to monitor whether the redesigned procedures are actually working better than before according to key performance indicators (KPIs). If not, go back up a few steps and see where improvements could be made!

 

  • Process optimisation: Are there even more improvements we could make? As time goes on after implementation of a process redesign, there will likely be more opportunities for fine-tuning how things work based on feedback from employees and customers or changes in technology or market conditions (i.e., an organisation’s competitive landscape). The BPM cycle should never end!

If you’re interested in learning more about the stages of BPM I’d suggest reading our blog post on how to implement BPM

BPM helps achieve visibility, efficiency, and value

BPM plays a critical role in helping you achieve visibility, efficiency, and value.

 

Visibility is the key to transforming your organisation with process management. Visibility helps ensure that everyone understands how processes work from beginning to end—which makes it easier for your employees to identify areas of improvement and make informed decisions about future improvements. 

 

This level of transparency often comes naturally in small organisations, but as companies grow larger and more complex, it can become harder for employees at different levels to see the big picture and understand how their own role fits into the overall structure of an organisation’s processes. 

 

The right process management solution makes it easy for people across your organisation—from senior executives to frontline employees—to get real-time insights into their processes. With this kind of access, they can quickly see where things might be going wrong or slowing down by looking at metrics like bottlenecks or where there are too many handoffs between team members or departments within a process.

Is BPM a strategy or a tactic?

This is a question with many different answers. The first answer is that it depends on how you define business process management. If you look at BPM as a strategy, then it’s certainly much more than a set of tactics for improving your processes. 

 

BPM can help you make better decisions and become more efficient, but if all you’re looking at is the possibility of automating workflows and improving visibility into processes, all while being able to get real-time reporting, then that’s just a list of tactics. And while they’re arguably important tactics, they only scratch the surface of what BPM can do for your organisation when looked at as a strategic initiative.

 

A better way to think about this may be to look at BPM as both a strategy and tactic:

 

  • When thought of as a way to improve business processes—a series of tasks completed in a specific order within an organisation—BPM may be considered a tactic because it helps businesses streamline their operations by automating tasks and giving them greater visibility into their processes. But when viewed from the perspective of gaining insight into how your organisation operates so you can make better decisions based on data-driven analysis, BPM becomes much more than just another tactic: it’s part of an overarching strategy designed to help companies gain competitive advantage and become more profitable.

 

  • When thought about as an end in itself (i.e., implementing technology in order to gain visibility over what happens within your organisation), then yes – this could be said to be tactical; however if one views Business Process Management through the lens which assesses not just what happens within each process but also how these activities interact with one another across functions or departments – then this moves beyond simply being tactical and begins becoming strategic (because now we are looking at organisational effectiveness).
Positive crew of male and female multiracial colleagues enjoying productive cooperation looking at planning

Does BPM require technology, and what kinds?

As we’ve seen, BPM is a discipline that involves ongoing and very intensive collaboration between all relevant parties, including employees and management, in order to put the business on an effective path for growth. 

 

Technology is absolutely essential for achieving this goal—it makes coordination across different units swift and efficient, it enables the continuous monitoring and adjustment of processes that’s crucial to success with BPM, and it facilitates data collection at every stage. With the right software tools in place, the intimate involvement of top executives can be maintained without consuming disproportionate amounts of their valuable time.

 

Of course, you may wonder what kind of technology you need to get started with BPM. At one end of the spectrum are simple spreadsheets or other off-the-shelf programs; while these offer limited functionality compared to dedicated BPM software solutions, they can be sufficient for basic process mapping (one step in the overall disciplined approach). 

 

On the other hand, there are a variety of specialised tools meant specifically for business process management; these are typically more expensive but provide greater depth and breadth of features. Agility Workflow is an example of business process management software that can be used to streamline your business processes through workflow automation.

What is the role of BPM in an organisation?

BPM combines both the human and technology sides of your organisation. At its core, business process management is about people and technology working together to achieve business goals. 

 

Although this might sound simple, it isn’t always—business processes can be complex, especially when you consider the number of moving parts involved. BPM software should help you define these processes within your organisation and serve as documentation to guide your team in their day-to-day workflows.

BPM can drive efficiency and value across the organisation. Whether you use BPM as a strategy or a tactic for doing business, it can be a good approach to streamline business processes and increase visibility into how operations are running within your company. By using BPM software to simplify tasks and provide more transparency into key performance indicators (KPIs), you may find that teams are able to work more productively—and ultimately, deliver more value to customers than ever before.

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Peter Shields
Peter Shields

With extensive experience of Quality Management, Risk & Compliance in the Energy, Nuclear & Defence industries since 1979, Peter formed BusinessPort in 1996 to specialise in Process-based Management Systems delivering both Performance and Compliance.

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