What is business process management?

A business process is a set of activities that are organised into a sequential process flow to accomplish a specific goal. All businesses have processes, whether that’s to onboard a new member of staff, approve a loan request or just process a payment. Whatever it is, there will be a series of steps (or ‘tasks’) that are required to be executed before the process can be considered finished.

Business process management is the discipline of identifying and analysing those steps, and the people or systems that perform them, with a view to improving the overall efficiency of the business.

Take a care hire reservation as an example:

  • the customer kicks off the process by submitting a car hire request
  • the hire company will validate the request: this may involve getting additional information from the customer
  • the hire company’s system will check for available vehicles for the period specified
  • a vehicle will be selected
  • the hire company will validate the customer’s payment method (credit card etc.)
  • a reservation will be made in the hire company’s system
  • confirmation will be sent to the customer

Most businesses – particularly as they grow – will end up with many different business processes, some of which can become large and chaotic. There will often be inefficiencies such as manual re-keying of information or duplication of effort. There may also be processes that involve a series of manual or paper-based steps that could benefit from automation. All in all, a less than ‘streamlined’ set of processes.

BPM: exactly what is it

Business process management (BPM) is the methodology by which processes are designed, modeled, analysed, measured, improved, optimized and automated. These activities can be grouped within the overall BPM lifecycle, as follows:

  • design – designing the process flow and associated tasks
  • modeling – taking the theoretical design and using it in a number of ‘what if’ scenarios with real-world data
  • execution – implementing the model, either manually or via automation (usually involving a software tool)
  • monitoring – tracking the state of process instances and their associated data. This may also include measuring time taken to execute tasks
  • optimization – identification of bottlenecks in a process and applying improvements
  • re-engineering – where optimization isn’t sufficient or the process is too complex, the process may need to be completely re-engineered

Business Process Management Technology

BPM Software (BPMS) supports all the concepts of BPM, allowing users to:

  • design a business process graphically in terms of a ‘flow chart’
  • model a process by running simulations against scenarios with real-world constraints
  • deploy business process designs to a dedicated runtime environment
  • execute business processes
  • monitor running processes and tasks, and their relative execution times
  • produce management reports that can identify bottlenecks in process execution

Design and modelling

During the design and modelling phase, BPM software tools can support the following activities:

  • create a data model to represent the data which will move through a business process
  • write business rules which can be executed at various stages of the process
  • compose logic which can divert a business process along an alternative path depending on the results of previous tasks or business rules
  • assign users or groups of users to human tasks
  • design forms to allow users to enter data and perform tasks
  • automate various tasks by means of integration to external systems
  • add additional properties to tasks, such as email notifications and escalation points

Execution

During the execution phase, BPM software tools can support the following activities:

  • promote a business process design into an execution environment
  • allow users to start business processes
  • generate task lists that allow users to view their current workload
  • allow users to interact with the live business process e.g. claim and complete tasks, delegate tasks to other users etc.
  • view the current state of a running process
  • terminate a running process

Monitor, measure and track

During the monitoring phase, BPM software tools can support the following activities:

  • allow users to monitor process performance through pre-built dashboards
  • report and aggregate metrics such as volumes and durations of processes and tasks
  • create customised dashboards containing actual business data, in combination with process and task performance metrics

BPM Summary:

  • BPM is a methodology that allows us to formalise and improve business process
  • BPM methodology views processes as important assets of a business that must be understood, managed, and developed to announce and deliver value-added products and services to clients or customers

Benefits of BPM:

  • Increased visibility – making it easier to monitor and control critical business processes
  • Management with an increased ability to identify bottlenecks, make improvements where needed and re-assign resources to meet customer demand
  • Increased ability to identify further areas of optimisation – to improve customer satisfaction or lower transaction costs
  • Reduced lead-times – for example a customer hears from the bank in days rather than weeks
  • Better definition of the duties and roles of the company
  • Good tool for auditing, fraud prevention and assessment of regulatory compliance
  • Prevents cross function – for example a customer being repeatedly transferred to a different team who claim they cannot help

To succeed in today’s evolving business environment, your business has to be agile. It must respond quickly as markets, customer needs and regulations change. BPM with rule-driven applications is key to making that happen. Red Hat® JBoss® Process Automation Manager Suite can help your organisation be successful in your transformation initiatives

Tier 2 Consulting are experts in BPM. Keep an eye out for our team at BPM webinars and conferences.