Business Process Management (BPM) for Small Business

Let us start with a definition of a business process. Essentially it is a sequence of events or tasks that must be performed for a business to operate.

Business Process Management (BPM) is focused on repetitive and ongoing processes that follow a predictable pattern. Often businesses can have wasteful processes. These require process management because if they are left unorganised and unsystematised, it could lead to mayhem and chaos in your business.

BPM is not isolated to focusing on individual tasks or project flow which is generally a one-time or unpredictable flow. BPM is a way of looking at and then controlling the processes that are present in an organisation. In its most simple form BPM is geared for the full effects of a process, where it starts and ends, the key data needed, and where potential bottlenecks and inefficiencies lie.

What is business process management system?

BPM tools and systems adopt a systematic approach and methodology to optimise business processes. These systems are used to model, implement, and automate business workflows with the goal of improving performance by minimising errors, inefficiencies, and miscommunication. The idea is to streamline the way things operate in order to maximise efficiency.

BPM systems can be categorised based on the types of processes, programmes and platforms that a business is performing, essentially these are:

Integration-Centric BPM

This handles processes that are primarily used between existing systems with minimal human involvement. Integration-centric business process management systems have extensive connectors and accessibility to communicate to be able to create quicker processes.

Human-Centric BPM

This is for those processes executed by humans driven by approvals and tasks performed by individuals. These platforms excel at being a user-friendly interface, displaying easy notifications, and quick tracking.

Document-Centric BPM

This is used when a document (e.g. a contract or agreement) is at the heart of the process. They enable routing, formatting, verifying, and getting the document signed as the tasks pass along the workflow.

Most business process management systems will be able to incorporate elements of each of these, but each one will usually have one core component.

Here are business process management examples of the key players in this space: Appian, Nintex, Oracle, IBM, Software AG, Comindware, K2, Alfresco, ProcessMaker, Bizagi, Promapp, PMG, AgilePoint, Red Hat, Kofax, TIBCO Software, BizFlow, Kissflow, AIIM, Process Street. 

These key players offer support for your business, but some of them also provide training programs to obtain business process management certification. Training is concrete evidence of business process management knowledge; learning new concepts /best practices; and benefiting from the experience of trainers/mentors.

How does business process management work?

Business process management framework is a discipline in operations management which uses various methods to discover, model, analyse, measure, improve, optimise, and automate business processes. BPM focuses on improving corporate performance by optimising and managing business processes.

There are five steps in business process management:

Step 1: Design. Identifying who performs and owns existing processes and the design of “to-be” processes, we are aiming to ensure a correct and efficient new design.

Step 2: Model. Representing the process in a visual layout or a theoretical design and introduce a combination of variables or conditions to give a clear idea of the sequence of events, and the flow of data through the process to determine how the process might operate under different circumstances. It may also involve running “what-if analysis.”

Step 3: Execute. Test the process with a small group first and then open it up to all users.

Step 4: Monitor. Keep an eye on the process as it runs through the workflow. Use the right metrics to identify progress, measure efficiency and locate in the case there are any issues.

Step 5: Optimise. Identify any changes that need to be done to workflow to make them more efficient. Consider business process improvement steps.

The current trend with BPMs is to perform an analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (called SWOT analysis) which are being used by some key companies.

What is the purpose of business process management?

Business process management has a few beneficial purposes. It aims to gain control of chaotic and wasteful processes. BPM are used for digital transformation, process standardisation and tracking individual items and assigning ownership as they move through a workflow.

They also enable continuous change so the improvements can be extended and propagated over time, this is called business process management life cycle where process improvement repeats continuously for the life of the process. This introduces a culture of continual process improvement into the organisation in a structured but easy to use way.

What are the key goals of business process management?

The simple answer is to streamline the way things run to maximise efficiency. But some of the methodology is different depending on the type of BPM.

For human or document centric BPMs, it’s essentially a tool to create, map, analyse, and improve or automate business processes to ensure everyday operations run more efficiently to realise bigger organisational goals. Usually driven by business rules, it involves a lot of operational analysis and flow charting, and the more sophisticated offerings in the space include not only process designers, but also simulation tools so that processes can be run virtually to identify bottlenecks or other issues related to either people or underlying infrastructure.

For system centric BPMs it is about getting information to where it needs to go, when it needs to go there. Having those insights communicated to you in an immediately usable format. This is what reporting and querying software is all about. Success depends in large measure on how well you label the data so it can be identified and included when an appropriate query comes along. A major boost toward accomplishing this goal exists in data warehousing and business intelligence tools that can leverage to successfully interchange shared metadata. It is based on three standards (modelling, repository, interchange).

BPM itself is perhaps the “ultra” process improvement technique because it explicitly addresses the complexity of inter-application and cross-repository processes, and incorporates data-driven, as well as, content-driven processes – all on an ongoing basis.

Modern businesses that want to thrive, are embracing and harnessing Business Process Management.

Download this Business Process Management PDF as a guide note.

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