Business Process Management (BPM) is a set of methods, tools and techniques that companies can use to help make business processes more efficient and effective. BPM helps business leaders align business processes with the organization’s strategic goals and the needs of the customer. BPM does not follow a hierarchal approach to process improvement, and it does not rely on one segment of the organization. It works best when applied across multiple departments throughout the enterprise.
Leaders who wish to apply BPM practices throughout their organizations encounter the challenges of coordinating multiple departments and helping these departments cooperate to effectively apply the BPM methodology. Imposing BPM across multiple departments brings greater opportunity for a company and its employees, but the following factors must be carefully considered.
Process improvement efforts frequently fail or succeed on the strength of the leadership of those involved. Deploying and sustaining BPM requires matching leadership roles to individuals with the required talents. An important role in implementing BPM is the process steward. This individual takes responsibility for the process’s performance. The steward monitors performance metrics to ensure that BPM processes meet established expectations. These stewards must be able and allowed to influence others in departments where they have no direct control or formal authority.
Any attempt to coordinate the optimization of business processes across multiple departments must follow a well-structured communication plan. Good communication helps draw different departments together in harmonious action to improve a process. Establishing a solid communication system helps solve some potential problems before they become an issue.
While an organization’s acceptance of BPM and its successful integration happen at all levels, there are clear advantages when top management supports and approves BPM. A C-level endorsement gives BPM a much stronger claim on the organization’s resources, and an increased ability to obtain funding. When support for BPM comes from the executive level, it creates exposure and visibility for the initiative that crosses departmental boundaries. This exposes BPM to a larger pool of sponsors and helps it to become a permanent part of the organization’s operations.
BPM requires support from the IT department because of its reliance on automation technology. The IT department is ideally qualified to manage the technology component of BPM. However, it is important that BPM does not become solely an effort of the IT department. When this happens, the danger exists that it will lose its business focus and become focused exclusively on technology.
Once all of the pieces are in place to deploy BPM, organizations require a system for choosing and prioritizing the processes to be improved. Project selection can greatly impact an organization’s efficiency in implementing BPM. As the Pareto principle teaches, 80 percent of the benefits of process improvement come from 20 percent of the organization’s efforts.
Implementing Business Process Management across all departments of an organization and getting those departments to apply BPM principles to processes is not a one-time endeavor. Successfully deploying and managing BPM across the company is an iterative activity requiring continuous monitoring and the flexibility to adapt to a constantly changing environment.