What is BPM?
Just like questions revolving around the definition of employee engagement, the question, “What is BPM?” has been difficult to answer until now. Previously, various schools, universities and experts could not agree and had to emphasize one facet or another of this broad concept.
But BPM.com, one of the leading business websites that gives free information on actual business case studies and provides great resources has managed to answer, “What is BPM?”
A Unified Definition of Business Process Management
According to BPM.com, “Business Process Management (BPM) is a discipline involving any combination of modeling, automation, execution, control, measurement and optimization of business activity flows, in support of enterprise goals, spanning systems, employees, customers and partners within and beyond the enterprise boundaries.”
With this answer to “What is BPM?”, they seek to unify the ambiguous nature of business process management, frame it within a set of processes that drive towards reaching business goals. At its heart, business process management is a discipline that organizations and companies approach in their own unique ways that suit their infrastructure, culture and business goals.
To help you answer the question, “What is BPM?” here are some words to remember:
- Process. Process means a flow of business activities and seeing those activities as connected toward the achievement of some business transaction. Flow isn’t a strict term since it can mean actual flow in Lean Management or simply the way you’ve ordered your processes.
- Modeling. There is no single standard way to model, but the model must encompass the process. If your model doesn’t take into consideration every part and activity of the process, it’s not going to be effective.
- Automation. In many cases this means writing software, but it might include building machinery or even creating signage to direct participants. While it doesn’t mean eliminating the human factor in your processes, it does mean lessening chances for variation and error.
- Execution. Conceptually, the process instance executes itself, following the BPM practitioner’s model, but unfolding independent of the BPM practitioner. This means that your process has developed to perform activities and tasks independent of the practitioner thanks to thoughtful planning and modelling.
- Control. This can be strict control and enforcement, or it might be loose control in the form of guidelines, training, and manual practices. This depends entirely on your company, culture and your employees.
- Measurement. It means that effort is taken to quantitatively determine how well the process is working in terms of serving the needs of customers. Every activity in the process has to be measured and related to the whole.
- Optimization. Improvement is relative to the goals of the organization, and ultimately in terms of meeting the needs of customers. Keep in mind that it isn’t about maximum ROI or efficiency—those are from a different discipline.
More Things to Keep in Mind
The mention of enterprise goals is included here to emphasize that BPM should be done in the context of the goals of the enterprise, and not some small part of it. BPM differs largely from a functional to an organic approach.
Within and beyond the enterprise boundaries in this BPM definition recognizes that the enterprise is part of a larger system. Customers are part of the business process. Their interaction, along with those of employees should be considered as part of the end-to-end interaction.
Process within the BPM discipline differs from the functional view as something that is seen within the scope of the whole business. When you answer “What is BPM?” you are not optimizing each step, material, design and process for maximum output and ROI. Instead, BPM takes the whole business within an organic framework that has interconnected and interdependent parts that need to work together to attain a goal or objective.
This means that executives, customers, workers, machinery, executives, infrastructure and really any part of the business or organization is a living organ or part of one whole body that has a goal and has to stay healthy.