Business Process Management (BPM): it’s an important subject for every business. Unfortunately, the organization of core business processes often fails to get the attention it deserves; be it through insufficient time or the feeling that there isn’t much room for improvement left. That improvement is usually possible though, and in many cases seriously necessary.
“Business process management (BPM) is a systematic approach to making an organization’s workflow more effective, more efficient and more capable of adapting to an ever-changing environment. BPM software allows firms to define their processes and manage the entire process lifecycle. It can store content related to individual tasks and support the detailed numerical measuring and analysis of performance. “
Many companies look to increase their margins by adopting ‘lean’ principles: they look hard for waste and try to cut it out of their processes. An important benefit of this approach is the business’ focus on activities that can enable both growth and greater profitability.
What can still hold you back?
There are of course all manner of challenges that can get in your way of effectively managing, adapting and developing your company’s processes. And of course, the changes you plan on paper are unlikely to be executed quite as smoothly in reality. These challenges are also different for every business, but there are questions that can help you to define – and then hopefully overcome – potential issues beforehand.
What is the most effective approach to getting the new changes genuinely embedded in the organization? What will fit well wit the existing business culture, and what wont? Many manufacturing companies now work with compensation models: if employees find a way to save costs, the savings are shared with them. This has proven to be an excellent motivational tool for driving changes.
Numbers as a mirror
To develop focus you need knowledge: knowledge that every business actually has available, but is often hard to find or lacking in precision. In most cases, the knowledge involves process performance numbers and their associated analysis. If they are correct, you’ll know exactly how successful each component part of your businesses is in realizing it’s objectives. The analysis let’s you clearly visualize how well your processes function in reality – a mirror for how your business really looks.
To measure is to know – and create success
The ‘mirror’ gives companies the opportunity to zoom in on where they can make effective cost savings and adopt more lean practices. That in turn helps them to highlight where the genuine potential for growth lies and where people should be concentrating their efforts. It’s knowing through measuring – the core of a BPM solution. You have the necessary numbers and analyses available, enabling valuable change to be implemented when necessary, and not after the fact.
How do you get the numbers?
Accurately measuring how effective your business processes actually are is certainly a challenge. If that can’t be done, it’s very difficult to pin down exactly where it’s going well, and less well within the business. You need clear workflows generating unambiguous figures and analysis to make results tangible and available for proper consideration. That’s the only way to quickly identify and implement the necessary changes to generate tangible performance improvement.
A BPM system where you can begin small will help you realize a successful implementation. In practice, an out-the-box, ready to go solution that can be rolled out step by step, workflow by workflow, has the best chance of success. Although of course, such a solution also needs to adaptable to the specific needs of your business processes.
In short every BPM system needs to make several key steps possible – measurement of the frequency and duration of key processes and process steps, and the rapid identification of bottlenecks between stakeholders. If this can be successfully implemented and accepted, BPM can be the key to unlocking significant gains in insight and efficiency.