Organizations are constantly looking for new ways to bring agility and adaptability into their operations, and business process management (BPM) is the latest attempt to fulfill that need. In fact, recent data from BPTrend's State of the BPM Market found that 50% of those surveyed say their organizations have made a significant or a major strategic commitment to business process change and 75% strongly agreed that BPM processes and technologies have helped their organizations accomplish their goals.
But what is BPM, why is it advantageous, and how can companies implement some best-practices?
What Is Business Process Management?
“BPM as a software category first emerged in the early/mid 2000’s,” explained Burley Kawasaki, chief product officer at K2, “as a way to discover, model, analyze, measure, improve, optimize and automate business processes.” Over the last few years, these solutions have evolved to enable more rapid deployments through low-code tooling, cloud-based platforms, artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, and other advancements that put BPM solutions at the forefront of digital transformation.
Advantages and Pitfalls of BPM
“The key advantage of BPM,” said Vignesh Swaminathan, VP of product management at ASG Technologies, “is the synergy that it brings between the way business is conducted and the way the IT systems are designed to help conduct that business.” When businesses processes are translated to automated digital processes, enterprises can benefit from measurability, optimization, regulatory compliance, risk mitigation and governance. That means BPM can lead to efficient business operations and cost-savings over the long term.
“The downside is approaching a business process automation as an IT project — all automation projects need fundamental support from the business side of the equation.” If there isn’t synergy between IT and business teams, the resulting BPM implementation could be overly complex, difficult to roll out, sub-optimal and costly. That’s why organizations need to follow BPM best-practices when getting started.
“Businesses that implement intelligent process automation have the opportunity to improve their customer satisfaction and continuously optimize processes,” Kawasaki added, “while focusing on providing better customer service and a more innovative product or service.” By intelligent automation, he means modernizing processes using automation, AI, analytics and advanced capabilities to bring new efficiency to processes beyond just digitizing them. As long as they avoid the common pitfalls of over-analyzing technology decisions or implementing too many fragmented systems, BPM can vastly improve business operations and customer satisfaction.
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Getting Started With BPM
“When it comes to implementing the latest generation of intelligent process automation,” Kawasaki said, “organizations need to understand their processes and identify which processes need to be digitized, where to integrate intelligence, and establish a roadmap for true digital transformation.”
“All automation projects need to have the underlying business process as the focal point of the automation initiative,” Swaminathan suggested, “and teams must avoid getting distracted by technological waves.” Sometimes organizations implement new software or business systems that end up adding more complexities to the process they’re meant to automate, so it’s crucial to avoid following technology trends. “Secondly,” he continued, “automation projects need to be driven from the business side of the enterprise with IT as an enabler.” By letting the business initiate BPM projects, organizations can closely align their digital solutions to the reality of the enterprise.
Choosing Business Processes
“While there will be obvious candidates,” Kawasaki stated, “it can sometimes be difficult to identify and define all the processes you should be digitizing.” But there are AI-driven process mining tools that can analyze event logs or existing information to understand and document the way organizations operate. “Mapping out your processes,” explained Kawasaki, “allows you to gain clarity on the areas that could be improved using digital approaches.”
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“Capabilities such as machine learning, optical character recognition and natural language processing are growing increasingly accessible,” Kawasaki said, “not only to large corporations, but also midsize businesses.” That means more organizations than ever before can leverage advanced intelligence capabilities to optimize their business processes. “AI can be deployed to automate tasks that usually require human involvement,” Kawasaki explained, “such as analyzing the sentiment of a customer comment or extracting a phone number from a scanned document.” Finding opportunities to leverage intelligence is crucial when implementing BPM.
Defining a Roadmap
“Once you have discovered how your processes can be improved,” said Kawasaki, “it is useful to establish a roadmap for digital transformation.” Choosing technologies and digitizing processes often requires upfront costs that pay off over time, so it’s crucial to prioritize process automation and improvement projects for the future.