Sometimes we tend to confuse managing business processes with business process management, the latter known universally by BPM. While the first is an activity that supports the smooth execution of processes, their control, including its improvement, the second (BPM), is conceived as a comprehensive discipline that defines a model of how companies should organize to achieve their strategic business objectives. I say a model, to emphasize that there are other models different to BPM, such as the orientation of the organization of the company’s functions – i.e. departments (Does this mean that departments make less sense in an organization aimed at BPM? This doubt I leave open to discuss in future articles.)
Managing business processes (or MBP) comprises of all those management activities aimed at the proper execution of each process of the company, that is, monitoring, provision of resources and sufficient means, its improvement so that subsequent executions of the same process are more efficient, resolution of incidents and problems associated with the process execution, the reengineering of a process (one-shot project on time) etc. Any task that focused on the process to run as best as possible, we could frame as ‘managing business processes’.
Business process management or BPM is a discipline / framework upon which a company organizes, operates, produces, derives income and so on, i.e. it operates in the company over a lifetime (Enterprise Architecture). BPM determines clearly that the fundamental object for the operation of the company is the business process (whether this is indeed so or not is the orientation of BPM, and it is possible that many business experts do not think the same), and about this concept (the process) one should organize the company. BPM has a clear objective, to promote and facilitate continuous improvement (continuous projects). Having a business process view is easier to identify and makes the improvements that enhance the activity of the company, according to BPM.
As a result, BPM is not in opposition to managing business processes and vice versa, but the second is an activity or set of activities necessary but not sufficient for BPM. It completes BPM, but does not fully define it. We are talking on different scopes, both within BPM, a global company and other specific business processes.
Some examples of scope of different concepts depending on whether you are contextualized in BPM or Managing Business Process:
|Organization||Leadership and participant roles in company management and processes. Organization of company.||Responsible and participants roles identification in processes. Organization in processes.|
|Processes||Characterization and relationship processes. (Horizontal vs. Vertical). Process Architecture.||Processes inventory.|
|Improve||Continuous||Spot. Concrete actions for improvement in a process.|
|Architecture||Business and Processes Architecture. Common threads.||Technical Architecture with services orchestation of activities.|
In my opinion, when we want to refer to managing business processes, it would be more appropriate to speak about process improvement or BPI instead of BPM, and leave this last concept to discuss about a framework for Enterprise Architecture.