The goal of business is to make a profit and profit is a result of proper cost management – keeping costs lower than revenue. The practice of Business Process Management (BPM) in an organisation can be very helpful in standardizing business processes, and providing insight into bottlenecks in the processes leading to inefficiency and wastage.

BPM is a way of looking at and then controlling the processes that are present in an organization. It is an effective methodology to use in times of crisis to make certain that the processes are efficient and effective, as this will result in a better and more cost efficient organization.

See more at: AIIM

Business Process Management (BPM) Steps

According to AIIM, BPM practice is made up of 6 steps namely:

  1. Analyze
  2. Re-design and model
  3. Implement
  4. Monitor
  5. Manage
  6. Automate

I am of the opinion that the sixth step – “Automate” is very important in the successful adoption of BPM in any organisation. While BPM does not refer to any specific technology, there is a wide range of offerings from open source to enterprise solutions – each with their pros and cons. By automating BPM, an organisation reaps the following benefits:

Process standardization and visibility

The use of a BPM solution allows the organisation to define and model its business processes on a platform that is readily accessible to all participants/stakeholders. There are no confusions about which version of the process is the latest and approved one, as the system serves as the single source of truth for the process model. 

Enforcement of policies

You doubtless are aware of situations where an organisation has policy documents that took weeks or months to draft and approve only to have no member of staff adhering to it. By implementing a BPM solution, changes in organisations policies can be built into the process workflow and policies enforced as checks in the approval process. 

For example, if there is a new policy enforcing expense limits by grade, the BPM solution can be automated to lookup an employee’s grade, expense limit and total expense incurred so far for the period. The system then shows the allowable amount that can be expensed at the point of filling out an expense form and enforces it. 

Consider the alternative. The employee spends valuable time checking on the intranet or asking colleagues for the limit applicable to his or her grade and then tries to remember what amount has been spent and what is left. The accounts/finance department also has to repeat the same process plus the additional step of verifying the employee’s grade, before approving the expense. These seemingly small tasks which can easily be handled by the system adds up to sizable costs that negatively impact the bottom line.

Reporting and insights

Three important steps in BPM practice are Analyze, Monitor and Manage. In the absence of an automated system, these steps become very laborious. It would require physical inspection of employees carrying out tasks to see how long it takes, manual review of documents and data capture to Excel or other reporting systems to generate reports for analysis.

With a BPM solution, reports such as SLAs and turn around time are a breeze. Managers can easily see which employees are completing more tasks and the steps in the process which take the longest. These insights can then be used to refine the process to eliminate identified inefficiencies.

There are many more benefits of adopting a Business Process Management solution in the implementation of BPM in an organisation and we will highlight more in the coming weeks. Irrespective of the size of the organisation, the rewards of BPM automation more often than not outweigh the costs. If you are still running your business processes manually and without BPM, today is a good time to ask if you are not doing more harm than good to your organisation.

Photo by Andreas Klassen on Unsplash