Business process management (BPM) is a management approach focused on aligning all aspects of an organization with the wants and needs of clients. It is a holistic management approach that promotes business effectiveness and efficiency while striving for innovation, flexibility, and integration with technology. Business process management attempts to improve processes continuously. It could therefore be described as a “process optimization process.” It is argued that BPM enables organizations to be more efficient, more effective and more capable of change than a functionally focused, traditional hierarchical managementapproach.
A businessprocess is a “series or network of value-added activities, performed by their relevant roles or collaborators, to purposefully achieve the common business goal.” These processes are critical to any organization as they generate revenue and often represent a significant proportion of costs. As amanagerial approach, (BPM) considers processes to be strategic assets of an organization that must be understood, managed, and improved to deliver value added products and services to clients. This foundation is very similar to other Total Quality Management or Continuous Improvement Process methodologies or approaches. BPM goes a step further by stating that this approach can be supported, or enabled, through technology to ensure the viability of the managerial approach in times of stress and change. In fact, BPM is an approach to integrate a “change capability” to an organization – both human and technological. As such, many BPM articles and pundits often discuss BPM from one of two viewpoints: people and/or technology.
Roughly speaking, the idea of (business) process is as traditional as concepts of tasks, department, production, outputs. The current management and improvement approach, with formal definitions and technical modeling, has been around since the early 1990s (see business process modeling). Note that in the IT community, the term ‘business process’ is often used as synonymous of management of middleware processes; or integrating application software tasks. This viewpoint may be overly restrictive. This should be kept in mind when reading software engineering papers that refer to ‘business processes’ or ‘business process modeling.’
Although the initial focus of BPM was on the automation of mechanistic business processes, it has since been extended to integrate human-driven processes in which human interaction takes place in series or parallel with the mechanistic processes. For example (in workflow systems), when individual steps in the business process require human intuition or judgment to be performed, these steps are assigned to appropriate members within the organization.
More advanced forms such as human interaction management are in the complex interaction between human workers in performing a workgroup task. In this case, many people and systems interact in structured, ad-hoc, and sometimes completely dynamic ways to complete one to many transactions.
BPM can be used to understand organizations through expanded views that would not otherwise be available to organize and present. These views include the relationships of processes to each other which, when included in the process model, provide for advanced reporting and analysis that would not otherwise be available. BPM is regarded by some as the backbone of enterprise content management.
Because BPM allows organizations to abstract business process from technology infrastructure, it goes far beyond automating business processes (software) or solving business problems (suite). BPM enables business to respond to changing consumer, market, and regulatory demands faster than competitors – creating competitive advantage.
Most recently, technology has allowed the coupling of BPM to other methodologies, such as Six Sigma. BPM tools now allow the user to:
* Define - baseline the process or the process improvement * Measure - Simulate the change to the process. * Analyze - Compare the various simulations to determine an optimal improvement * Improve - Select and implement the improvement * Control - Deploy this implementation and by use of User defined dashboards monitor the improvement in real time and feed the performance information back into the simulation model in preparation for the next improvement iteration.
This brings with it the benefit of being able to simulate changes to your business process based on real life data (not assumed knowledge) and also the coupling of BPM to industry methodologies allow the users to continually streamline and optimise the process to ensure it is tuned to its market need.