Processes are the core of a business. They exist in every department and team, and they are critical to the outcome of operations. You can think of business processes as a blueprint that defines the pathways and flow of activities that run within and between different business functions. But moving from point “A” to point “B” along these pathways, and doing it as efficiently as possible, doesn’t come without effort. It takes time, resources, and bit of good planning to make sure your blueprint is sound, and work is running smoothly. That’s where business process management comes into play.
What Is Business Process Management?
Business Process Management (BPM) is the practice of designing, executing, monitoring and optimizing business processes. It is a methodology (not a product) that can turn your business into a well-oiled machine. Done correctly, it is also carried out with the intention of continual improvement.
Many people confuse BPM as simply workflow automation. However, true BPM should be centered around driving outcomes (like process improvement or efficiency gains) and must take into account the complete, end-to-end process at hand. Processes can be structured and have a predictable path from start to end, or they can be unstructured with a less predictable path to a goal. Naturally, the processes or workflows that are structured and repeatable are the ones that make good candidates for automation.
Automation is possible through tools like BPM software, which supports the application development of technology solutions to carry out business processes. Check out this blog, to learn more about BPM software in its current form.
Benefits of Business Process Management
If done properly, BPM can bring many benefits to your business. Here are a few:
- Cost efficiency: By streamlining operations and collaboration, and reducing duplicative efforts, companies can decrease costs while improving productivity.
- Increased productivity: The practice of BPM often leads to automation of repetitive tasks, removing bottlenecks, and reducing unnecessary steps.
- Better employee and customer satisfaction: Instead of spending time doing boring and repetitive tasks, employees can spend more time in activities that bring more value to the business and the customer.
- Stronger corporate strategy: By aligning BPM with business outcomes, organizations can improve their overall performance and resource optimization.
Why Is Business Process Management Important?
Business process management is about conducting business in the most efficient way possible. That can mean optimizing resource allocation, eliminating bottlenecks, reducing process duplication, speeding up transactions, etc. Employing this outcome-oriented methodology helps organizations deliberately improve operations, as well as their bottom line. In doing so, they can become stronger and more prepared to weather any storms influenced by the market.
The scope of use cases for business process management is incredibly broad. This methodology could be applied to almost any workflow or function for the purpose of greater efficiency and process improvement. Some use case examples include:
- Expense Approval
- Travel Request
- Inventory Management
- Order fulfillment
- Credit card request
- Employee onboarding
Business Process Management Life Cycle
As indicated by the definition provided earlier in this article, business process management operates in a continuous cycle. Opinions on the naming and granularity of each stage differ depending on who you’re asking, but I’d suffice to say the following is a safe summary of the complete lifecycle:
Design – Identify existing processes as well as areas for improvement. Map the flow of work between people and systems and evaluate any dependencies or handovers.
Execute – Carry out processes identified and designed in the previous step. This can be done manually or using automation.
Monitor – Track processes to stay up to date on their status and performance. Flag areas that are underperforming or serving as potential bottlenecks.
Optimize – Use the information gathered in the monitoring phase to make process improvements to achieve cost savings or greater efficiencies.
Business Process Management Market
To be clear, BPM is a practice, not a market. There are BPMS vendors offering tools to support this practice, and there are also vendors providing sets of tools to address a wider spectrum of use cases, including BPM. A good example of the latter is low-code technology.
Using Low-Code to Solve for BPM
Low-code platforms like OutSystems remove the complexity of development through configurable tools, resources, and reusable components. This way, your team can quickly create or change simple or complex BPM solutions with minimal effort through a built-in workflow engine without worrying about the different steps for modeling and implementing business processes. If you want to see how this works, I invite you to watch this short webinar about building workflows and complex logic with a low-code platform.
By now you may be asking: what’s the advantage of using a low-code solution, instead of a traditional BPM tool? Well, here’s what you can do with low-code for BPM:
- Create and deliver digital processes to the business 10x faster than using traditional development methods. This way, you can build and use your processes within days rather than months (or years);
- Build customer-centric processes that address their real needs, while eliminating internal silos and replacing tools that hinder your customer’s experience;
- Test, measure, and experiment with new business processes and models, easily create minimum viable processes, and gather insights that support continual improvement.
Want to learn more about how to automate and optimize your business processes with low-code? Then check out our OutSystems for Business Process Management page.