How can Business Process Management
be used to optimise your processes?

Business Process Management software: BPM methodologies and tools

While Business Process Management is primarily itself a process, it requires technological resources making it possible to both model business processes in detail and then to run them within the organisation.

Up to about ten years ago, BPM projects were mainly the preserve of large businesses. But nowadays, technological maturity and the experience of previous implementations enable any type of business to complete a BPM project within a reasonable timescale and quickly see the benefits.

A BPM project is first and foremost a business project to support strategy. Before embarking on such a project, you must therefore ask yourself how process optimisation will improve your products and services and increase customer satisfaction.

What is Business Process Management?

Business Process Management is a technique used to examine processes by modelling them to streamline and optimise procedures, by allocating further resources and services, to improve consistency and operational efficiency and to benefit financially.

Business processes consist of a series of tasks and actions designed to achieve some predetermined outcome. The sequencing of the steps in a process can vary depending on different interaction scenarios, and require different resources, be they human or technical. A single process can therefore follow different procedures, of varying degrees of efficiency.

Processes typically span more than one department in a business. A typical example of this aspect is CRM, a process that involves marketing, sales and the after-sales services (or customer services) departments. Each function will describe procedures from their point of view, without necessarily knowing what happens before or after its own involvement. It is therefore crucial to get the functional business areas, IT department and senior management to talk, and talk the same language.

BPMN (Business Process Model and Notation:
a standard to make collaboration and execution easier

The BPMN 2.0 standard (Business Process Model and Notation version 2.0) is an internationally-recognised modelling standard that meets this need for a common language.

This simple language has the advantage of fostering cooperation and visually coordinating the logical sequences of actions and messages that exist across the various business departments, including inputs/outputs, automated tasks, manual tasks and any templates they use, sub-processes called by a parent process, routing and constraints for various tasks, and the role of each group, participant or user.

Based on mathematical rules, this language can also be easily translated into different BPEL Business Process Execution Languages which makes it ideal for quick design of Web services.

Two approaches to process optimisation

Implementation of an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) or CRM (Customer Relationship Management) package or a WMS (Warehouse Management System) can be an opportunity to optimise business processes. Depending on your business culture and its size, you might adopt one of two approaches:

  • The first approach is performance-oriented. Focusing on best practices and methodologies such as SCOR, Lean and Six Sigma, it consists of overhauling a process, either from absolute scratch or at least disregarding the existing process. This approach can result in a culture shock, and some resistance to any change. It can also entail a great deal of IT work. It is therefore helpful to produce a master plan describing the processes and how to optimise them.
  • The second approach aims for continuous improvement, focusing on an examination of existing processes without a comprehensive review, streamlining them little by little. It makes for a faster and more flexible implementation, applying iterative improvement techniques. Culture shocks are thus avoided through measurable and immediate ROI. However, implementation timescales to achieve the same final results are much longer than for the first approach.

BPM systems to accelerate business process optimisation

Nowadays, far and away the vast majority of processes deal with data and are thus data-focused. Continuous improvement therefore requires us to be as interested in changes to processes operationally as in data processing.

Once processes are described and modelled, they are then put live. Most execution engines include modules, some more sophisticated than others, to transport and transform data, and connectors to provide access to source and target data, regardless of where and how data is stored.

At Blueway, we firmly believe that rolling out a Business Process Management or Process Governance strategy requires a number of components to be combined:

  • A hybrid workflow design package, one that applies the BPMN2 standard
  • An ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) to identify steps that can be improved, and then automate certain sequences connected to IS applications
  • An MDM system to take charge centrally of all the complex issues relating to data management, quality and traceability.

Many functional modules can be combined to accelerate business process optimisation. These include BAM (Business Activity Monitoring) which is used to proactively check and measure the level of functional, technical and organisation services, and CEP (Complex Event Processing) which is used to manage large numbers of business rules and variables.

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