BPM Revisited

Introduction to BPM:

What is Business Process Management (BPM)? A simple definition of Business Process Management (BPM) is the practice of diligently managing the entire lifecycle of a business process.  The business process could consist of one or more “workflows” and may also integrate with one or more “systems of record”.   Systems of record are typically those systems that contain information, such as employee or customer data, financial information, files or documents that must be stored or retrieved, and much more.

Managing business processes effectively is typically a cyclical practice that includes several key phases.  Each phase will be performed by one or more key people within your organization.

BPM Lifecycle

BPM Lifecycle

Let’s take a brief look at each of these phases and how they effectively contribute to a successful BPM Lifecycle.

Phase 1:  Model or Document the Business Process

At a minimum, your business process should be documented in some form or another.   Additionally, this documentation should be maintained regularly, throughout each phase of the business process lifecycle.  As the process changes, the documentation should be maintained to reflect the latest changes.

A “Best Practice” is to document your business process in the form of a process model or diagram.  There are many process modeling tools on the market, ranging from very simple to very complex.  Choosing the right modeling tool is critical to the success of your business process.

Many organizations prefer the approach of documenting the process in two states:

  • As-is – Modeling the process as it appears today.   Typically, this is done by a Business Analyst or Project Manager, so that key stakeholders and subject matter experts can identify and agree upon how the process is perceived to be implemented at the current time.
  • To-Be – Modeling the process as it should be in the future. The Business Analysts or Project Managers will often include the IT staff and/or key subject matter experts in this process.  The to-be model will usually depict improvements made in process flow, workflow automation, document or data routing, and more.

The advantage of this dual-stage approach is so that the organization can create a benchmark for success, build a business case, or just get to a clear understanding of where the process is today.  The “to-be” model will help you get approval on a project, streamline the business process, cut costs, and improve operational or individual productivity.

Take time to evaluate several process modeling tools, if necessary, and choose one that meets the needs and skills of your organization.    We will discuss how to pick a modeling tool in our next post.

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