What is business process management?

We take a look at the holistic approach designed to help organisations achieve their goals

Every successful business wants to make its workflow more efficient, effective, adaptable, and ultimately more aligned with its operational goals.

This is precisely the purpose of business process management (BPM) - to take existing and ongoing business processes, and continually improve them over time.

It's important to note that this is not the same as task management, which organises a set of activities so that a project can be completed on time. It is also not a catch-all term for general system upgrades. It instead refers to the improvement of business processes, or the fundamental, end-to-end events that are required in order for a company to keep operating. An example of this may be a customer placing an order through an online store, which then results in a delivery.

BPM is an organisational discipline - it presumes that you are able to view your business as a series of processes that can all be 'improved' in some way. The driving force behind this may be to increase efficiency, to incorporate new software tools, or adapt to changes in regulatory compliance - all in the view of meeting business goals. Often these goals will be centred on the delivery of a service that meets the varied expectations of a customer.

Yet a company may be looking to reduce expenditure, increase productivity, or even reduce paper waste. By incorporating methods such as change management, risk assessments, and predictive analytics, supported by new technology, a company will be able to align their goals with what their business is currently able to deliver.

BPM is most often deployed for processes that span multiple organisational departments, people, and regions - when the risk of human error and inefficiencies are at their greatest. For example, a customer request may run through many departments in a large multinational, and finding bottlenecks in those processes can improve the overall customer experience.

The problem is, a single person or team improving a particular element of a business process runs counter to the attitudes that BPM tries to engender. While it may be instinctive to think that everyone should be working towards making the systems they use as efficient as possible, this is far too broad and chaotic to be of any use to the company.

For example, a team using upgraded software or new devices may improve efficiency within its own department, but may create headaches for other participants in the chain. Optimisation does not happen in isolation, and requires a complete understanding of the entire business process. As a result, it is often the case that only a small team of dedicated insiders is best poised to handle BPM.

Technology is often considered interchangeable with BPM, simply throwing the latest hardware and software at a problem - yet this is not the case. While many process evaluations may result in some parts becoming automated, BPM may involve the streamlining of automation and technology itself. In fact there are many business processes that are inherently difficult to automate, yet can benefit greatly from business process management, such as complex supply chains that involve a myriad of fluctuating daily factors, from weather to congestion.

Simply put, BPM is the constant cycle of evaluation and improvement, a holistic approach that looks at business processes from above and assesses how best to untangle the entire chain so that business goals can be achieved.

Picture: Bigstock

Featured Resources

BIOS security: The next frontier for endpoint protection

Today’s threats upend traditional security measures

Download now

The role of modern storage in a multi-cloud future

Research exploring the impact of modern storage in defining cloud success

Download now

Enterprise data protection: A four-step plan

An interactive buyers’ guide and checklist

Download now

The total economic impact of Adobe Sign

Cost savings and business benefits enabled by Adobe Sign

Download now

Recommended

How to delete a Facebook business page
social media

How to delete a Facebook business page

15 Sep 2020
IT Pro Live: Trust through conversations in the 'suddenly virtual' enterprise
Business

IT Pro Live: Trust through conversations in the 'suddenly virtual' enterprise

1 Sep 2020
What does a CISO do?
Careers & training

What does a CISO do?

17 Aug 2020
Amazon Contact Lens gives call center managers real-time call insight
Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Amazon Contact Lens gives call center managers real-time call insight

23 Jul 2020

Most Popular

16 ways to speed up your laptop
Laptops

16 ways to speed up your laptop

16 Sep 2020
16 ways to speed up your laptop
Laptops

16 ways to speed up your laptop

16 Sep 2020
The Xbox Series X shows how far the cloud still has to go
Cloud

The Xbox Series X shows how far the cloud still has to go

25 Sep 2020