What is Process Management?
Process Management or Business Process Management (BPM) is the organizational discipline that provides tools and resources for analyzing, defining, optimizing, monitoring, and controlling business processes and for measuring and driving improved performance of interdependent business processes. You can also review the Gartner definition. While it is a broad organizational discipline, many of the tenets of managing processes can be applied to individual business areas as well. While you may hear companies discuss their BPM software (Integrify included), keep in mind that some BPM software is simply used within the business process management discipline to accomplish certain aspects of it. Even a complete BPM system or “suite” is simply another tool available to BPM professionals. Let’s discuss some process management capabilities.
Business analysts review current workflows, interview participants and discuss desired outcomes with management. The goal is to gain an understanding of how things are done and if the results are aligning with the business expectations. For instance, “What is the current method for handling customer merchandise returns and what has the impact been to revenue and profit?”
Process definition is a significant undertaking and involves scoping, prioritizing and mapping business processes. Some efforts will simply begin defining the future, desired state while others, depending on the situation, will map current state processes first.
Key performance indicators need to be established (often in the process definition phase) so metrics can be tracked against them. This can be done through reports or dashboards and can focus on macro or micro indicators (an entire process vs. process segments).
With effective tracking in place, an organization can effectively steer operations toward optimization or process improvement. This means identifying process bottlenecks, resource issues, etc. and finding ways to improve the process on a regular basis. Business Process Optimization (BPO) is the redesign of processes to foster efficiency and strengthen the alignment of individual processes with a comprehensive strategy and goals. A BPM initiative may include BPO efforts but it also provides a robust framework for driving the organization through the major changes that arise from regulatory policies, adoption of new technologies, restructuring, growth or marketplace dynamics.
The Role of the Business Analyst
The goal of any process management framework is to deliver improved results while ensuring the best use of existing resources. Process analysts are skilled at modeling future state business processes by conducting interviews, analyzing data and using process modeling tools. These models are then used when using workflow management tools to automate tasks (human or machine) that need to be performed during a process.
Because process improvement often requires new behaviors and technologies, change management is a critical part of the framework and individual process management projects. A great process rolled our poorly is likely to fail. Training, coaching and ongoing involvement with the process design among stakeholders and those affected by the changes helps ensure the new process is adopted upon implementation.