Business Process Management (BPM) is a very important aspect in a business analysis discipline but unfortunately BPM is mainly synonymous with just business process modeling and creating ‘As-Is’ (Current State) and ‘To-Be’ (Future State) process flows. In this article, I would like to discuss BPM discipline and the different phases of BPM to enumerate how BPM is much more than just modeling business processes.

What is a business process?

Business Process’ refers to a set of coordinated activities (tasks and/or sub-processes) conducted wherein each activity takes an input, processes it and churns out an output for the next activity (output from the previous activity becomes an input to this activity).

What is business process management?

Refers to application of management principles (such as planning, monitoring, coordinating) in improving an organization’s business processes for better performance, business agility with an overall goal of reducing costs, increase profitability and improve productivity of an overall enterprise.

BPM Lifecycle:

Step 1 Scope Area of Study: Scoping your BPM project is the first step. Determine which process(es) needs to be part of BPM initiative. It may be a process spanning across the enterprise, multiple business units or within a single business unit. Generally speaking, business processes, which shows symptoms such as high defect rates, high processing times, starvation (steps in the business process where a business worker is waiting for an input), imbalance workload etc would be ideal business process candidates to be included in the scope.

Step 2 Redesign the business process (As-Is and To-Be): Discuss the ‘As-Is’ (Current State) of your process with your stakeholders and map it out using an ‘Industry Standard’ tool. Analyze your ‘As-Is’ (Current State) process, identify the bottleneck, pain points and issues within the process. From your ‘As-Is’ (Current State), model your ‘To-Be’ (Future State) process flows. If you are using a good modeling tool and have a good set of historical data set, you can also simulate the process i.e. run ‘What If’ scenarios to see how your ‘To-Be’ (Future State) process flow performs under a given set of variables and environmental conditions. It is highly recommended that models are build based on BPMN (Business Process Model and Notation) standards so that they can be used further to execute them on a BPM tool. Another advantage of using BPMN notations is that you can validate your process flow to detect any issues/gaps in your process flow.

Step 3: Implement the redesigned business process (Execute): Your ‘To-Be’ (Future State) process now needs to be implemented so that your stakeholder can reap the proposed benefits of this new process. The ‘To-Be’ (Future State) business process is ‘Run’ (executed) on a BPM engine. This tool will build a seamless workflow across the process participants, with all user interface, business rules, system validations, alerts and notifications built in. Currently there are various BPM tools such as Appian, Tibco, IBM, Pegasystems in the market and all of them are build around BPMN and BPEL standards. Step 4: Monitor the redesigned business process (Measurement and Metrics): Once a business process is implemented, it’s important to collect some metrics/measurements around the process to ensure that the overall goal of the BPM project is met. For example: initially it took 6 hours to process an order, but after executing the new process, it takes only 4 hours. Finally, is there any scope of further improvement? If yes, repeat the process from ‘Step 1’.

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