It may have been around since the turn of the century—this century—but there’s still plenty of mileage in business process management (BPM), and there’s still plenty of BPM benefits, according to a recent report.
“BPM may not get the same level of recognition that many other business practices do, but having a robust BPM practice in place is vital for many organizations for achieving optimal business process performance, efficiency, effectiveness, and agility,” writes Jorge García, principal analyst for Technology Evaluations Centers in the recent report Selecting a Business Process Management (BPM) Solution for the Modern Business. This is particularly true for organizations in industries such as software, information technology, and services, he adds.
What makes BPM so important today is it’s been able to incorporate up-to-date technologies such as mobile, cloud, analytics, and increased automation, García writes. “The end result is the acceleration of business processes, encouraging agile and adaptive ways for handling changing and complex business conditions,” he writes. “Another benefit is increased data centricity, and the potential for analytics to not only improve business process monitoring and efficiency, but also increase automated decision making in business processes.”
Moreover, BPM is a methodology that can grow as an organization grows, including working with companies outside the organization, García writes. “Every organization needs to set up a series of processes to address its current operations: Processing a customer request, authorizing a budget, monitoring client requests, etc.” he writes. “As a business grows in complexity, these processes will need to be designed, executed, and controlled with the assistance of a specialized tool.”
It’s not surprising, then, that market research firm MarketsandMarkets predicts that the BPM market size will grow from $6.96 billion in 2016 to $13.52 billion by 2021, for a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 14.2 percent.
What is a process? According to García, it is a set of connected activities to achieve the optimal execution of a business transaction. Consequently, it needs to be measurable, controllable, and adaptable so that it can be improved, he writes. But many organizations still rely on inadequate tools such as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel to manage their business processes, writes Dennis McCafferty in CIO Insight.
BPM is particularly helpful in three process components, García writes:
- Business complexity, so companies can continuously review, modify, and improve constantly changing business processes
- Collaboration, which is increasing inside and outside organizations and makes efficient processes more important
- Process interaction, because efforts such as just-in-time manufacturing and Agile development require constantly improving efficiency
No doubt you’ve heard of a “vicious cycle,” where things just keep getting worse and worse. Set up properly, BPM means your organization can instead have a process of continuous improvement by making changes in a business process, measuring how well they work, and then continuing to monitor the business process—including implementing new technology—to look for other changes that could be made, García writes.
This means there are three basic BPM benefits, García writes:
- Efficiency by reducing waste
- Effectiveness by making better decisions
- Agility by being able to implement changes more quickly
Incorporating New Technologies
The advantage of new technologies is that they can help jumpstart business processes. For example, mobile and cloud mean that users can perform business processes without being tied to their desks while reducing companies’ investments in IT hardware and software resources, García writes. Social media provides new avenues for requesting and obtaining information. Automation means that software can perform routine tasks without human intervention, leaving the humans to deal with the more complex cases, while analytics makes it easier for the company to see how changes improve a process and where the bottlenecks are, he adds.
Think that BPM benefits only big companies? Think again. TEC also surveyed 250 users of BPM software and found that well over a third of them worked for companies with fewer than 50 employees and earned annual revenues of less than $10 million.
The biggest barriers to improving BPM efforts? Not surprisingly, they’re the standard ones: Money, time, and resources, McCafferty writes.
Getting prepared for BPM
If you’re not already using BPM, what should you do? García offers four suggestions:
- Have a clear business case, including the cost of the inefficiencies your company’s business processes already have, and a proposal for changing and improving them
- Get buy-in from senior executives, including from outside IT and perhaps even outside the company
- Realize that to work effectively, BPM is a continuous process, not a time-limited project
- Develop a roadmap for the various steps of the initiative, including making sure participants can respond quickly
It takes work and commitment to realize BPM benefits, writes Alyssa Huntley in FierceCIO. “Having a BPM plan is more than just deciding to have one,” she warns. “It takes a good deal of initial preparation and monitoring down the road.”
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