What is business process management (BPM)?

Business process management focuses, among other things, on analyzing and continuously improving business processes. It helps if every process within a company has a clear beginning and a clear end. The output of this must be as efficient as possible and of high quality. You achieve this by mapping work processes, tasks, software, data flows, authorizations and the collaboration of employees.

Basically you ask the question: what exactly is happening in my organization and how do I get a better grip on all my processes?

Why business process management?

If a business process is not maintained, you run the risk that there is no coordination in the entire chain, that information is lost, that money is wasted or, for example, (legal) rules are not complied with. Effective BPM contributes to the quality of your business processes, allowing you to achieve your goals faster and more cost-effectively.

BPM can be of great value to companies in many situations, such as companies that have recently experienced significant growth, which are engaged in intensive collaborations, acquisitions or the replacement of business-critical software such as an ERP.
After all, the processes that worked very well a few years ago can suddenly become time-consuming or inefficient, or have changed in practice without ‘people’ being aware of it. Or the knowledge lies with only one or a few people, which jeopardizes the continuity of the organization.

As mentioned, BPM is indispensable when major changes take place within your organization. By mapping out the desired change, the impact and the possible risks, you can have the change take place in a structured and controlled manner. Who would not want that?

Using a business process management tool

Identifying, analyzing and optimizing business processes is only a first step towards better. If business processes are not kept up to date, you run the risk that agreements made will be ‘forgotten’ again or that improvements will gradually be lost. These are typical examples as a result of employee turnover or the hectic pace of the day.
A process management tool gives you the opportunity to record the processes, work agreements and responsibilities. This makes it easier to control and analyze the process. For example, think of:

  • The lead time of a process.
  • Which documents are used?
  • Who is involved and responsible?
  • Which system should you use for this?

In this way you can continue to structurally monitor whether processes are still relevant and make improvements. This is also known as a continuous improvement cycle.

Which business process management tool do you choose for your organization?

There are different types of BPM tools available, each with its own purpose. Broadly speaking, there are three types: business process modeling tools, process management tools and process automation tools.

  • With a business process modeling tool you describe processes for redesign, continuous improvement or execution analyses.
  • Process management tools mainly focus on the execution of processes. These are mostly case management tools to support processes across departments.
  • Process automation tools mainly focus on low-code/no-code process automations. Workflow software or RPA are typical examples of this.

However, there is a trend within the BPM software suites; these tools are increasingly converging. After all, all these goals are part of the Business Process Management course.

Despite the fact that a BPM tool yields a lot, the implementation is very time-intensive. Especially if you find out later that you chose the wrong tool, it can come with a high price tag. Which BPM tool you need exactly depends on the needs of your organization such as:

  • Making and guaranteeing clear work agreements, so that they are not lost.
  • Defining responsibilities.
  • Making real-time connections with machines or, for example, software systems to automate processes.
  • Use the tool (also) as a means of communication.
  • Dashboards to monitor the performance of your processes.
  • Linking certain applications to extend the tool.
  • Redesigning your organization and providing insight into its impact.
  • Set up dependencies, so that a task automatically moves on to the next responsible after it has been completed.

You can only discover these BPM needs if you have mapped out all processes. Standardizing processes first, then automating them, is a credo that fits perfectly within BPM.

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