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What is BPM?

Business Process Management (BPM) is a collection of methods, tools and techniques used to make business processes more efficient and effective. BPM has been called a process-centric approach because it focuses on improving an organization’s performance at the level of its individual operational processes. As technologies and markets constantly change, BPM helps organizations monitor, analyze and control business processes to make sure that they are keeping pace with the demands of an evolving marketplace.

Business process management techniques help organizations ensure that their operational processes are aligned with their business objectives and strategy. The rigors of BPM force companies to examine business practices to determine if they are using a series of steps that can be plotted on a workflow chart, or an actual business process.

Why use BPM?

Why should organizational leaders choose BPM over the host of other process improvement methods available today?

Today’s organizations are competing in a global marketplace. These operations require that processes located in different parts of the world integrate flawlessly and adapt quickly to meet the constantly changing needs of a worldwide customer base.

Process improvements that result from applying BPM help increase an organization’s productivity by generating more value with fewer resources in less time. BPM also provides cost reduction and greater cost control for mature product lines where price is considered the distinguishing factor.

BPM focuses on innovating processes by inventing new approaches and separating from methods of the past, not just adding incremental improvements. This emphasis on innovation can be applied to services, business and manufacturing processes, product development and existing business models.

Applying BPM principles gives organizations the ability to increase employee satisfaction and retention by adapting business processes to meet the expectation of employees in today’s workforce. These needs include telecommuting, flexible time and collaboration.

How BPM improves business operations

Business process management focuses on three areas to help organizations to improve business processes – agility, transparency and effectiveness.

Agility

BPM’s focus on process automation helps organizations adapt their processes to meet the needs of markets and customers that are in constant change. Process automation gives businesses a detailed understanding of business processes which enables leaders to make changes quickly. Because BPM emphasizes the importance of communication, departments within an organization are better able to agree on performance metrics and share best practices. BPM also encourages collaboration with customers and suppliers to quickly determine the impact of changes to a process.

Transparency

The process automation feature of BPM allows organizations to monitor their business processes in real time to determine how the process impacts the organization’s objectives and strategies. Employing technology to “pull back the curtain” on process performance gives organizations a better understanding of their business processes, and allows them to diagnose problems and identify opportunities for improvement.

Traditionally, organizations have used process models to understand the performance of their business processes. This modeling approach is limited by the fact that models do not always accurately represent actual process performance. BPM uses what is called a unified modeling environment that allows collaboration from multiple departments. This provides a model in an executable form that is a much more accurate representation of how the process truly works.

Effectiveness

BPM enhances process effectiveness by first using complex software tools to help determine the process’s optimal level of performance. These software tools monitor the process to determine how close it is to optimal performance. Effectiveness can be increased even further by automating manual tasks.

As the global business environment grows increasingly competitive, more organizations may begin seeking the benefits that BPM can provide, such as greater operational efficiency, rapid response to changing customer needs and increased product and service innovation.