Business Process Management (BPM) is a discipline in operations management that uses various methods to discover, model, analyze, measure, improve, optimize, and automate business processes. BPM focuses on improving corporate performance by managing business processes. It can be described as a “process optimization process.” It is argued that BPM enables organizations to be more efficient, more effective, and more capable of change than a functionally focused, traditional hierarchical management approach.
Understanding BPM requires a comprehensive understanding of what a business process is, the different types of business processes, and the role of BPM in business analysis. This article will delve into these topics in detail, providing a comprehensive glossary of terms and concepts related to BPM and business analysis.
Understanding Business Processes
A business process is a series of steps performed by a group within an organization to achieve a specific goal. These steps can be manual or automated, and they can occur in a sequential or parallel structure. Business processes are at the heart of what makes or breaks a business—and what differentiates it from the competition.
Business processes can be categorized into three types: operational processes, supporting processes, and management processes. Operational processes create the primary value stream, supporting processes enable the operational processes, and management processes govern the operational and supporting processes.
Operational processes, also known as primary processes, are those that make up the core business and create the primary value stream. Examples include manufacturing, marketing, sales, and customer service.
These processes directly touch the customer and are essential to the organization’s value proposition. They are usually well defined and documented, and they require strict adherence to ensure consistency and quality.
Supporting processes, also known as secondary processes, support the core processes. Examples include accounting, recruitment, technical support. While they do not provide value to the customer directly, they are essential to the effective management and operation of the business.
Supporting processes often span several functions within an organization, and their effectiveness can have a significant impact on the success of the operational processes they support.
Role of BPM in Business Analysis
BPM plays a crucial role in business analysis. Business analysis is the practice of enabling change in an organizational context by defining needs and recommending solutions that deliver value to stakeholders. BPM, as a part of business analysis, helps organizations understand their current processes, design new ones, and ensure that changes are effectively implemented.
By using BPM, business analysts can help an organization to become more efficient, reduce costs and errors, improve customer service, and become more agile in responding to market changes. BPM tools and techniques provide a systematic approach to improving a company’s workflow, which is crucial for achieving strategic goals.
Process modeling is a key aspect of BPM and business analysis. It involves creating a visual representation of a business process, which can help to identify potential improvements. This model can be as simple as a flowchart or as complex as a detailed process map with decision trees and dependencies.
Process modeling helps business analysts understand how processes work, identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies, and design improved processes. It also provides a common language for discussing processes, which can facilitate communication and collaboration among stakeholders.
Process improvement, another key aspect of BPM, involves identifying and implementing changes to a business process with the goal of improving some aspect of the process, such as reducing costs, improving quality, or increasing efficiency.
Process improvement can involve a wide range of activities, from small tweaks to existing processes to major overhauls that involve redesigning the process from scratch. Regardless of the scale of the improvement, the goal is always to improve the performance of the process in some way.
Key Concepts in BPM
There are several key concepts in BPM that are important to understand. These include process architecture, process owner, process visibility, and process governance.
Process architecture refers to the structure of the processes within an organization, including how they are related to each other. The process owner is the person or group responsible for managing a process and ensuring it achieves its objectives. Process visibility refers to the ability to see and understand what is happening in a process, which is crucial for identifying problems and opportunities for improvement. Process governance involves the rules and procedures for managing and controlling processes.
Process architecture is a critical concept in BPM. It refers to the arrangement and interplay of processes within an organization. A well-designed process architecture ensures that processes are aligned with the organization’s strategic objectives, and it provides a framework for managing and improving processes.
Process architecture can be complex, especially in large organizations with many interrelated processes. However, a clear and well-understood process architecture can greatly facilitate process improvement efforts and help ensure that changes to one process do not have unintended consequences for others.
The process owner is another important concept in BPM. This is the person or group who has been given the authority and responsibility for managing a process and ensuring it achieves its objectives. The process owner is responsible for the performance of the process, including its efficiency and effectiveness.
Process owners play a crucial role in BPM. They are responsible for understanding the process, identifying opportunities for improvement, and leading process improvement efforts. They also serve as the primary point of contact for any issues or questions related to the process.
Benefits of BPM in Business Analysis
BPM offers several benefits in the context of business analysis. These include improved efficiency, increased agility, better compliance, and enhanced customer satisfaction.
Improved efficiency is often the most immediate benefit of BPM. By analyzing and improving business processes, organizations can eliminate waste, reduce errors, and increase productivity. This can lead to significant cost savings and improved profitability.
Increased agility is another key benefit of BPM. Agile organizations can respond quickly to changes in the market or the business environment, and BPM can help organizations become more agile by making their processes more flexible and adaptable.
By understanding and improving their processes, organizations can more easily adapt to new opportunities or threats. This can help them stay competitive in a rapidly changing business environment.
Better compliance is another benefit of BPM. Many organizations face a complex web of regulations and standards that they must comply with, and managing this compliance can be a major challenge.
BPM can help organizations manage their compliance by providing a clear understanding of their processes and how they relate to regulatory requirements. This can help organizations identify potential compliance issues and take proactive steps to address them.
BPM is a crucial aspect of business analysis, providing a systematic approach to understanding and improving business processes. By using BPM, business analysts can help organizations become more efficient, reduce costs, improve customer service, and become more agile in responding to market changes.
Understanding the key concepts and benefits of BPM can help business analysts and other stakeholders make the most of this powerful tool. Whether you’re a business analyst looking to improve your skills, or a business leader looking to improve your organization’s performance, a deep understanding of BPM is a valuable asset.