Business Process Management


In the last section, we introduced the concept of business process management systems. According to AIIM, Business Process Management is defined as “a way of looking at and then controlling the processes that are present in an organization.” It is an integral part of business process automation; however, they are not the exact same thing.

In this section, you will learn more about business process management and how it relates to business process automation.

What Is Business Process Management?

Business process management is not a particular set of software, tasks, or a method of project management. BPM is an all-encompassing approach to creating automated processes and keeping them in place to maximize the efficiency of your business. It is the way to create your roadmap for business process automation like you read earlier. The best way to think of BPM is as a business practice or the set of regulations that are put in place to strive to improve processes throughout the entire life and depth of your business.

Effective business process management is going to be completely focused on outcomes rather than on individual tasks or projects. BPM is a way that processes can be understood and improved to set the stage for successful automation. It puts processes in place and assigns responsibilities so that the systems that you eventually implement can keep running and standardizes those processes so they are easy to understand and execute.

BPM is also something that is not static in a business. It is something that will need to be reviewed and built upon over time as the business scales or the goals of the business change. A key thing to keep in mind is that, similar to business process automation, you can not just set and forget your system for business process management.

Finally, effective business process management is not a way to completely redesign the way that your business functions to try and perfect your operations. It is a living and moving framework and set of ideas that are centered around improving the way that your business functions consistently.

There are two main categories in the world of business process management, even though the processes that are addressed through BPM are much more far-reaching than the categories may suggest.

Human-Centric Business Process Management

Human-Centric BPM, as the name implies, focuses on the people. This type of business process management seeks to support employees through automation because the employees in certain areas of a business can not be easily replaced. Sometimes, this is referred to as document-centric as well.

Software that falls into this category is going to communicate tasks to your workforce rather than just automatically assign or carry out those tasks behind the scenes. It allows employees to manage their workflow in a more individual way, allows tasks to be paused or reassigned, and more. Any process that requires human employees to take action is going to fall under human-centric BPM. This can include employee onboarding, customer complaints and service, filing reports on expenses, and other things of that nature.

System-Centric Business Process Management

System-Centric BPM is the one that is primarily focused on automation and technology overall. Software, systems, applications, and other technology-based resources all come together in this BPM approach. This can also be called integration-centric.

System-centric processes are going to help organize tasks and processes between different applications, regardless of the origination of the applications or whether or not they will need to be manipulated by human employees at some point. This type of BPM makes it so that all software can be integrated to help processes become more automated or to streamline workflows.

Regardless of the approach that a business takes to BPM, a strong framework will help this entire effort be more worth the investment and create better outcomes down the line.

What Is A Business Process Management Framework?

A BPM framework is going to be the overall management framework for your business and the processes that it uses to achieve the goals and attain the results outlined in the business plan. There are several elements that a solid BPM framework will include and there are a few different types of dedicated frameworks that businesses can use. In this section, that is what you will learn about.

The Key Elements of A BPM Framework

Creating a business process management framework is an approach that is going to solve the problem of organizing all of the processes in your business so that they can be automated or otherwise improved. When you’re creating the framework, there are some questions that you need to ask.

  • How does this business process management system align with the overall strategy of your business?
  • How will this system be governed across its lifetime?
  • What are the key roles in this framework and who will fill them?
  • In what ways will this system impact the overall culture of your organization?

A business process management framework can significantly change the way that a business is run. You will need clearly defined policies and rules to make sure that the system doesn’t fall apart and you need to make sure that the strategy you end up implementing for business process management advances the overall strategy of your business.

Additionally, people who are employed at your business need to be receptive to the new system and you will need to determine everyone’s role within it. Without clear definitions and allocation of your workforce, the system can fail before it ever gets off the ground.

Three Types of Business Process Management Framework

BPM frameworks tend to be industry-specific in that the industry you are in will define the type of framework that your business will ultimately implement. The regulations, policies, and standards that you use in the creation of your BPM framework are going to depend on the industry that your business is in and that is what determines the approach to the framework.

There are three clearly-defined types of BPM frameworks that exist.

Horizontal: This strategy is focused on process design and development and depends primarily on the use of technology or software. This type of framework enables business process management and additional solutions across multiple industries.

Vertical: This strategy is targeted towards a specific industry or category of processes within a business. While this one is more tailored, it can still be employed across a variety of locations or regions that a business operates in.

Full-Service: This strategy is an amalgamation of both of the previous types. This is a framework that is going to encompass all aspects of business processes like workflows, designing processes, simulation, testing, and more.

Identifying the Business Process Management Lifecycle

When it comes to creating an effective system or framework for business process management, it helps to understand the lifecycle of BPM. Business process management is a discipline; it is a business practice. In light of that, there is a specific approach that is outlined as a best practice to creating an overall system for business process management, and that is often referred to as the BPM lifecycle.

There are five distinct phases of business process management, and they move in a cycle repeatedly, since this is something that is never exactly finished. The phases are not always presented in the same way, but we are going to go over them in their most simple form below.

Phase One: Design

The first phase involves the overall design of the business process management system that your organization will employ. Business processes need to be defined and broken down into individual steps. Everyone involved needs to have a clear understanding of how each business process works.

In this phase, you are going to outline how each business process is carried out currently and how they are going to shift to fall in line with the new approach. This is one of the most critical phases because this is how you define the way that business processes and the overall framework for business process management are going to be aligned with the overall strategy of your business to meet your goals.

Phase Two: Modeling

In the modeling phase, you are seeking to answer the “what if?” questions. This phase will be the one in which different processes are simulated in multiple ways to determine the most efficient process that will later be implemented across your entire organization. Modeling is the way that you can test the design of your business process management system to make sure that it is functioning at its best and test any ideas for further improvement.

Phase Three: Execution

The third phase in the business process management lifecycle is execution. In this phase, the processes that you chose in the modeling phase are going to be implemented based on the results you found.

Phase Four: Monitoring

Monitoring is the next phase. This includes monitoring and analyzing the processes that you have put in place to make sure that they are working as intended. This is also the phase where you will be observing the overall culture of your organization and making sure that the right conditions are present to uphold the system. Metrics will be used in this phase to compare processes and make sure that they are making the improvements that you determined they would in the modeling phase. Think of this phase as simply auditing the systems that you began executing and making sure they are doing what you intended for them to do.

Phase Five: Optimization

The final phase, though the cycle never truly ends, is optimization. In this phase, the data that you found in the monitoring phase will be put to use. This is where you will take the necessary steps to identify any problems and further improve the processes that you set in motion in the execution phase. Based on the information you find, you will return to the design phase to help keep your business management system alive and running at the maximum level of efficiency for your business.

The Lifecycle and Your Framework

Each of the steps in this lifecycle is executed with the framework in mind. The framework that you set out initially is used to determine each of the phases, who is responsible for what elements of each phase, and then how any changes will be drafted and made.

The lifecycle also supports the framework by allowing you to observe any issues, improvement, and future ideas and then alter the existing framework according to what you discover over the course of the lifecycle.