Business Process Management (BPM) has evolved to the next level, it has now become an integral part of the software development process. Can a software company sustain without making BPM a part of their project management practice? Will it help clients’ to easily understand the process intricacies and help improve process effectiveness? Will BPM play a vital role in a success or failure of a software project? These are few of the questions that crop up in our minds, when we think about BPM.
In this article, we will try and gain some basic knowledge on Business Process Management and understand the role it plays in today’s IT sector. Let’s start by talking three basic aspects of BPM.
- Definition of BPM
- What is a Business Process?
- Key Factors Enabling BPM Success
Business Process Management – Definition
Business Process Management (BPM) is a process-centric approach to improve business performance using a combination of information technology and other governance methodologies. Although, BPM started as a management practice to efficiently manage business operations of large corporations. The software industry was quick to realize the benefits of BPM and started implementing it as early as 1980’s, this is the initial period when software companies started developing software products for large corporations. Why did they start implementing BPM? Well, the software companies felt, utilizing BPM would help their clients’ to understand the entire software development life cycle (SDLC) easily.
What is a Business Process?
Business Process is essentially a standardized way to convert a set of inputs into a desired output that a customer would find valuable, business analysis is the core aspect of process management. Let’s consider a real life example that would help you understand the BPM concept in a better way, take an example of an ‘online loan application’ process at any bank.
The general process is that a customer fills up an electronic application form (typically on the bank’s website), this information becomes the input for the loan application process. The business process involves a credit check and other activities that enable the bank to take a decision on the loan request raised by the customer i.e. whether to approve the loan or not. When it comes to output, here the output of this particular business process is a ‘decision’ that is communicated to the customer followed by a loan being granted to the customer.
Based on this we can say that the business process transforms multiple inputs into specific and more valuable outputs. In general, we can define the output of a process as everything that emerges from within the process.
- Primary output is what is desired by the customer. Example: In this case, the loan that the customer wanted to borrow from the bank.
- Secondary output is an e-mail that is being sent to the customer notifying the decision taken by the bank. Continuing with the process flow, the input of the process is provided by one or more parties (which is often in the form of information).
- Any entity that demands and consumes process output is considered as a customer. A ‘subsequent process‘ can also be treated as a customer, as it is consuming the information created by the first process.
Key Factors Enabling BPM Success
There are three major components that decide the success or failure of a Business Process Management (BPM) Implementation.
As a business entity, your business needs to ensure that these three aspects are working concurrently for a BPM implementation to be a successful.
All business processes need to be ‘fit for purpose’ and actually need to satisfy the demands of the clients/stakeholders involved.
Individuals play a key role in the success of BPM implementation, they are the ones who provide inputs e.g. in our online loan application example, we have observed that if the customer does not provide all the required information then the process would most likely get delayed.
Technology also plays a significant role in the success of any BPM implementation. In our example, if the manager misses to ‘approve’ a certain process step, he/she will get a notification alert and in spite of alerts or reminders if the application is not being approved, the system would send out a notification to the next level (senior manager) stating that the process is getting delayed due to the pending approval. This level of control is only possible by utilizing cutting-edge technologies. In order to successfully implement BPM, the information systems need to work seamlessly at all times.
Business process management is gradually evolving and offering businesses the advantage to streamline business processes effectively. You might have observed increased awareness among software businesses about BPM implementation. Based on the inputs provided by the clients / stakeholders, BPM analysts are able to effectively undertake process mapping / modelling utilizing various BPM tools , which is improving the overall efficiency and quality of business processes.